Of all the illicit drugs out there, cocaine is one of the worst. This drug has gained notoriety over the years and has gained popularity in the party scene. Now, what is cocaine and what makes it so addictive?
The White Powder
Cocaine is popularly known for its white powdery appearance that, when inhaled, reacts with the body’s central nervous system which could then produce euphoria and excitement. It is commonly taken through the nose by snorting, smoking which is also called “freebasing”, or can be injected in the body by dissolving it in water first before using. Cocaine is also known for its street names like “blow”, “coke”, “powder”, “dust”, “line”, “rail”, “Big C”, “snow”, “stash”, “pearl”, and “bump”. Because cocaine is still a popular drug today, many are still attracted to it. In fact, as many as 1,800 Americans have been reported to experiment with it on their first try.
Cocaine Abuse and Effects
Using cocaine is illegal and if caught using by authorities, it could land you in jail. This is because cocaine is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system, therefore, affecting the brain by stimulating it to produce high levels of dopamine. This dopamine is a chemical that is responsible for the “reward and pleasure” center of the brain and when it is stimulated like this for a long period of time, the brain cells will not only be affected but will also change. These changes are not limited to brain cells alone, in fact, cocaine could also affect the nerve cells and proteins of the brain leading to more permanent brain damage. Besides affecting the central nervous system, cocaine can also result in:
It could also make a person feel extra happy or excited. Since this is a stimulant, users can also experience being wide awake for days (depending on how much cocaine they have taken), feel extremely confident, and have feelings of being seemingly invincible. It can also make the user feel effects like:
- Increased palpitations
- Increased body temperatures and often feel hot
- Decreased appetite
- Irritated bowels
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Engages in risky behaviors that could endanger one’s life
You can usually tell someone is using cocaine when they act differently than their normal behavior. Again, these behaviors are displayed in an extreme manner. If a person who is normally quiet starts to exhibit behaviors like extreme confidence, more talkative or is more animated (e.g. jumping from heights with no hesitations, running around, etc.) then there may be a strong possibility they’re using the substance.
A cocaine user also has increased sexual desires and may even desire to have more intense sex. However, taking cocaine for longer periods of time can actually decrease your sex drive in the long run. Their normal sex drive will eventually come back once they stopped taking cocaine excessively.
Duration of Cocaine
The amount of cocaine that a user takes and how they take it will alter the duration and potency of its effects. If cocaine is snorted, the effects are usually short-lived, last somewhere between 5-30 minutes. If cocaine is injected or smoked, effects are more intense but the duration is not that long, approximately 5-10 minutes only.
This is why many users will consume doses more frequently to keep the desired effects going. Injecting cocaine, on the other hand, is far more dangerous and poses a massive risk for overdose compared to just snorting it. It can also lead to stroke or cardiac arrest since it can put a strain on the heart.
Once cocaine wears off, users will feel anxious, depressed and paranoid the next day. Sometimes, this paranoia can last for days. Cocaine can also stay for a long time in the body. In fact, it can last for 3 days after snorting and will be detected in urine samples.
Many cocaine users will notice a sudden decline in their health as well as physical appearance. They are also at risk for high blood pressure as well as heart problems (both young and old users can have heart problems) and may overdose if the user mixes it with other drugs or alcohol.
Snorting cocaine also damages the cartilages of your nose. Many heavy users can lose this cartilage and as a result, they end up with one large nostril and a misshapen nose that can disfigure their face. If you are pregnant and are taking cocaine, this could damage your baby’s life. You can go into premature labor with low birth weight or have a higher chance of miscarriage. Smoking cocaine has an almost immediate reaction but, if done over a period of time, can lead to breathing problems as well as chest pains. Injecting cocaine into your system can damage the veins of your arms. This can also cause gangrene on the injection site and ulceration. Sharing needles with someone else puts you at risk for infections, hepatitis, and HIV as well. Not only that but overdosing from cocaine can also cause death.
Mental Health Risks
Using cocaine in higher doses regularly can have a huge effect on your psyche. Once cocaine wears off, a person can feel a bit run-down, depressed, anxious or paranoid. It can also trigger previous mental health issues to the surface. If you have a history of mental health problems in the family, then you could be at greater risk after using this substance.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Just like any type of drug addiction, users who want to get better must first go through detoxification. Counseling, as well as other types of therapy, are also part of treatment for cocaine addiction. Some patients may take time to recover and must stay in a rehabilitation center. If you are to submit yourself for cocaine addiction treatment, sessions with a trained therapist are also part of your recovery.