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Cocaine addiction is a disorder in which a person persistently uses cocaine despite serious consequences. Regular cocaine use produces euphoria and increased amounts of energy.
Signs that are indicative of cocaine addiction can be physical, psychological, or social. The most common symptoms of cocaine addiction include frequent nosebleeds, hyperactivity, paranoia, tolerance accompanied by withdrawal, and isolation from family and friends.
Addiction to cocaine has multiple causes and certain biological, psychological, and social factors can all play a role in the development of the disorder. The causes of cocaine addiction are genetics, neurotransmitter imbalances, co-occurring mental health disorders, and social pressure.
Frequent use of cocaine can impact one’s overall health in physical or psychological ways. The effects of cocaine addiction include decreased appetite, intense euphoria, irritability, increased heart rate, heart attack, and lung damage, just to name a few.
Cocaine addiction is a chronic disorder characterized by compulsive use of cocaine despite serious risks and consequences. Cocaine is an illicit drug that has a high potential for abuse.
A cocaine addict will continue using the drug even though there are obvious harmful effects. Cocaine addiction often involves physical and mental dependence. Becoming dependent on the substance means that a person may experience symptoms of withdrawal when cutting back on cocaine use.
Addiction to cocaine stems from several contributing factors. The most common causes of cocaine addiction are listed below.
Regular cocaine use has a plethora of negative impacts. The effects of cocaine addiction are listed below.
Symptoms can be physical, psychological, or social. The most common signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction are listed below.
Other possible cocaine addiction symptoms include:
Cocaine addiction is bad for an individual’s physical and mental health. In 2018 alone, 5.5 million people in the United States have reported cocaine use in the past year. Furthermore, cocaine, alongside other club drugs such as ecstasy and LSD, is mainly used in higher-income settings by younger people.
But while younger people are more likely to use substances, the rate of cocaine use among people over 40 is 37%. Cocaine addiction is more prevalent in males than in females, with 2.6% of males admitting to having used cocaine and 1.5% of females who have engaged in addictive behaviors around the drug.
Cocaine addiction has a plethora of health dangers. The negative effects of long-term cocaine use can manifest in physical and mental ways, including cognitive impairment, weight loss and eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, psychosis, violent behavior, and social withdrawal, to name a few.
The positive effects of cocaine center on the drug’s medical uses. Cocaine is an effective local anesthetic used in medical procedures as the drug has numbing properties. In some cases, cocaine can also be used in treating minor lacerations as the drug causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels).
Recognizing that a cocaine abuse problem exists and deciding to address it are crucial in overcoming cocaine addiction. Deciding that one’s drug use needs to be addressed is often the toughest step.
However, taking a look at a person’s cocaine use may be a stepping stone to recovery. But at times, a cocaine addict may lack self-awareness and may fail to understand that there is a problem. In such cases, family members and loved ones play an essential role in convincing the struggling person that help is needed to recover from addiction.
Once help and support from loved ones have been established, it is easier to take steps in improving an individual’s situation. With the right assistance, a cocaine addict may start looking for facilities that offer specific treatment options depending on one’s needs and the severity of the disorder.
Joining self-help groups that focus on emotional support may also be beneficial for people struggling with cocaine addiction.
Some people are more likely to become addicted to cocaine. The risk factors for cocaine addiction are listed below.
Cocaine addiction is treated by addressing the unique underlying cause of the disorder for each individual, including inpatient programs, support groups, medications, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Inpatient programs allow individuals to enter residential treatment centers, away from potential triggers that may tempt people to use cocaine. Inpatient treatment also offers a safe and supportive environment for a recovering user.
Support groups are also beneficial in treating cocaine addiction. Taking part in support groups may be done during residential treatment or after a patient leaves therapy. Peer support groups such as Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer the support of recovering addicts with other people who share the same struggle and experiences.
There is no FDA-approved medication intended to treat cocaine addiction. However, medication treatments involving the use of antidepressants or stimulants may aid in suppressing cravings and offering relief for withdrawal symptoms.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of behavior treatment commonly used in treating people struggling with addictions. CBT helps cocaine addicts recognize harmful thought patterns and behaviors that can potentially cause a relapse and healthily avoid such situations.
Using cocaine is addictive because the substance significantly affects the brain by preventing dopamine from being reabsorbed, resulting in euphoric feelings. Cocaine is a white powdery substance that is derived from the South American coca plant. A powerful stimulant drug, cocaine has a huge potential for abuse.
The substance is known for its medical and herbal uses. Cocaine is a popular anesthetic legally used in medical procedures involving the ear, nose, and throat. The drug can cause vasoconstriction or narrowing of blood vessels, which helps reduce bleeding. In certain countries like Peru and Bolivia, coca leaves are made into an herbal tea called coca tea. The tea is commonly recommended for travelers in certain nations to prevent altitude sickness.
The advantages of cocaine mainly involve the drug’s medical benefits, including the local anesthetic properties of cocaine that allow certain surgeries to be done without pain. However, the medical use of cocaine also comes with major disadvantages as the substance has cardiotoxic effects and can cause an increased risk of developing glaucoma.
Another obvious disadvantage of cocaine has something to do with its highly addictive potential. Prolonged use of cocaine can negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health. Cocaine addiction can also cause damage to one’s personal relationships and finances.
Cocaine use can be addictive because the drug produces abnormally high levels of dopamine, a chemical in the brain associated with reward and motivation. Regular cocaine use can cause a brief yet intense high which encourages repeated use of the substance.
Cocaine addiction counseling is necessary when addressing the psychological aspect of a person’s addiction. Through counseling, therapists gain an understanding of what triggers an individual’s cocaine use and develop coping strategies that may help patients avoid giving in to such stressors.
Counseling can be done individually, in groups, or with family members. Sessions with a therapist or counselor are vital in identifying the root cause of an individual’s cocaine dependence and providing solutions to maintain sobriety.
The symptoms of cocaine addiction withdrawal can manifest themselves in physical and psychological ways, including but not limited to fatigue, irritability, fever, muscle aches, overwhelming cravings, anxiety, paranoia, and depression.
Cutting down on cocaine use can cause extreme discomfort to an individual. Cravings are commonly intense and can result in strong urges to use cocaine again.
Aside from cocaine, several drugs can lead to addiction, including methamphetamine, marijuana, hallucinogens like LSD, inhalants like aerosol sprays and solvents, and opioid painkillers such as oxycodone and heroin.
The addictive potential of cocaine and other drugs mentioned may differ from each other, but all commonly misused drugs activate the reward center of the brain. This mechanism of action makes such substances habit-forming.
Recent statistics about cocaine addiction show overdose death rates involving cocaine and the age group that is most likely to use the substance.
Drug overdose fatalities due to cocaine saw an increase by nearly 9% from 2018 to 2019. In fact, in 2019, 16,000 Americans died from a drug overdose involving cocaine. The age group with the highest percentage of people who reported recent cocaine use was 26 and older. The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that around 760,000 adults aged 26 or older suffered from a cocaine use disorder in the past 12 months.
Results of several studies indicate that the quality of life among addicts was lower in terms of physical and mental aspects, including bodily pain, impaired social functioning, anxiety, depression, and inappropriate quality of life. Such physical and mental consequences affect a cocaine addict’s self-esteem, career, and social relationships, ultimately leading to a decline in the quality of life.
Cocaine addiction affects the brain by constantly increasing dopamine levels and damaging brain structure over time. Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. In normal amounts, dopamine travels from one brain cell to another to convey feelings of pleasure and reward.
Regular cocaine use leads to overly high dopamine levels that can interfere with the communication between brain cells. Over time, cocaine addiction causes the brain to adapt to excessive levels of dopamine, making the addictive behavior less pleasurable. As a result, an addict develops tolerance to cocaine and will need more of the substance to achieve the desired effects of a dopamine high.
Long-term use of cocaine causes excess dopamine to flood the brain and damages its structure over time. This may explain why cocaine addicts experience seizures and other neurological complications.
Cocaine can stay in the body anywhere between a few days, weeks, and even months, depending on the frequency of use and other contributing factors. There are different tests done to identify cocaine usage and each varies when it comes to detection time.
Cocaine can be detected in the blood for 12 hours following last use, in the saliva and sweat for up to 2 days, in the urine for up to 3 days, and in a hair sample for multiple months.
Other influencing factors such as age, gender, frequency of use, and overall health can affect how long cocaine will stay in someone’s body.
There are different routes of cocaine administration. The main ways of using cocaine are listed below.
Cocaine overdose can be treated with emergency medical attention. An overdose is an emergency that requires prompt medical treatment to prevent long-term health problems or death.
Physical signs of a cocaine overdose include difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, repeated convulsions, seizures, extreme agitation, and nausea or vomiting. An overdose may happen when combining cocaine with other substances of abuse.
The mental signs of a cocaine overdose include extreme agitation or anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, delirium, and hallucinations. Overdosing with cocaine has long-term health effects, such as stroke, heart attack, or respiratory failure.