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Recreational cocaine abuse can easily turn into addiction. Cocaine abuse and addiction can cause serious medical problems. For this reason, comprehensive treatment may be needed. Cocaine is a stimulant drug that carries a high potential for abuse and addiction. Cocaine comes in two forms, both of which are extremely addictive. The more common, powdered form is referred to simply as cocaine, coke or blow. The freebase, rock-like version of cocaine, crack, is even more addictive than its parent drug. Powdered cocaine is most commonly snorted, however, it may also be injected, smoked or taken orally. Despite being viewed as a fun party drug by many, each route of administration carries unique risks and exposes a person to the threat of addiction. Cocaine is considered a stimulant or “upper” due to the way it stimulates the central nervous system and brain. As this occurs, certain parts of the brain and body can speed up. When cocaine hits a person’s system, it causes the neurotransmitter dopamine to build up. This creates a sense of reward and pleasure that drive patterns of drug seeking and using. While these characteristics are responsible for the pleasurable effects people who abuse cocaine seek, they’re also what makes this drug so risky to abuse. Some people believe that because cocaine is made from coca leaves, a natural substance, the drug is safe. On the contrary, cocaine is a very dangerous drug, abuse of which carries serious risks and dangers, including overdose and death. Cocaine found on the street is rarely pure. Instead, it is frequently cut or laced with other drugs or chemicals, such as baking soda or amphetamine. Depending on the substance, this could increase the risk of overdose and adverse hea
Cocaine Abuse Signs And Symptoms As cocaine abuse accelerates into addiction, a person will likely develop the following major signs of cocaine addiction:
As these states set in, an individual’s priorities can rapidly shift, leaving important work, family, educational and personal goals ignored. A person may act evasive when questioned about drug use and push close friends and family members away. In their place, a person may spend increasing amounts of time with people who buy or use the drug. When a person is struggling with cocaine addiction, they may continue to take the drug even after it’s causing physical or mental health problems. A person may not be able to quit using the drug even after multiple attempts at quitting. Cocaine Paraphernalia In order to use cocaine, a person must have certain equipment or paraphernalia. Many of these items are common household goods that are adapted to serve this purpose. If abuse is suspected, being on the lookout for the following items could help a person spot a potential problem.
Paraphernalia for snorting cocaine includes
Cocaine Abuse Short-Term Effects The high or euphoric state caused by snorting cocaine can last 15 to 30 minutes, however, a person may feel some effects for one to two hours after their last dose. To compensate for this short-lived high, some people may binge, or take back-to-back doses of cocaine. Cocaine can quickly change the way a person’s body and mind functions. Shortly after taking cocaine, an individual may become extremely talkative, energetic or excited. They may also seem overly happy, however, shifting moods can accompany cocaine abuse. Taking cocaine can make a person feel as if they’re not hungry or that they need little sleep, effects that can be even more pronounced during binges. A person may also become overly sensitive to sights, sounds or touch.
Other short-term physical effects of cocaine abuse can include:
Additional short-term mental effects of cocaine abuse can include:
Cocaine Abuse Long-Term Effects As a person continues to abuse cocaine, their neurochemistry, or chemistry of the brain, can change. These changes contribute to the development or reinforcement of tolerance, dependence and in turn, addiction.
The more a person uses cocaine, the greater the changes to their reward system. With continued exposure to this drug, the brain’s reward pathway struggles to experience reward and pleasure from natural rewards, such as eating, drinking water or relationships.
These changes in the brain circuitry can also lead to negative moods and depression when a person is without the drug, sensations that accompany withdrawal from cocaine. The combination of these effects can drive patterns of drug-seeking and intensify addiction.
As a person’s focus becomes increasingly centered on cocaine and they struggle to feel pleasure from anything else, they will likely begin to ignore things that are vital to their health and well-being. Paired with the physical side effects of the drug, such as a decreased appetite, this can cause a person to eat or drink very little. From this, a person may develop dehydration, malnourishment and/or lose a substantial amount of weight.
When a person experiences sensitization to cocaine’s effects, smaller doses of the drug can cause toxic effects, such as anxiety or convulsions. After a binge and crash cycle, a person may also become irritable, restless or have panic attacks.
Cocaine Overdose Signs At its most severe, a cocaine overdose can cause heart attacks, an irregular heartbeat, seizures, and death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, deaths from cocaine are most frequently due to cardiac arrest or seizures. Getting prompt medical help could be dependent on knowing the signs of cocaine overdose which may include:
A cocaine overdose can occur any time a person uses this drug, however, the risk of overdose can increase when cocaine:
Individuals who have developed both a tolerance to cocaine and sensitization to cocaine toxicity may face an increased danger of overdose when they abuse this drug. Further, cocaine may be cut or laced with harmful substances that increase the potential for addiction and overdose, such as the potent opioid fentanyl. Just a minuscule amount of fentanyl-laced cocaine could cause a deadly overdose.
Cocaine Withdrawal Signs And Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can include:
Cravings and depression may continue for several months for individuals who used large amounts of cocaine over a prolonged period of time. Suicidal thoughts have been linked to withdrawal symptoms in certain individuals as well.
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