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Is Cocaine Addictive?

Cocaine is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant with an intense but short-lived high. The feelings associated with cocaine include increased confidence, euphoria, and heightened concentration. These intense feelings can cause people to continue taking cocaine repeatedly. However, doing so can give way to cocaine addiction.

If you use cocaine for a prolonged period, you will gradually develop a tolerance to the effects that the drug comes hand-in-hand with. Sadly, this means the amount of cocaine you use will increase in a bid to feel the desired high. Regular cocaine use can evolve into an addiction, negatively impacting your physical health, mental health, emotions, behaviors, and relationships.

Should you want to find out whether cocaine is addictive, we have shared a wealth of information for you to review here.

If you or a loved one struggles with a cocaine addiction, please contact us today to find out about our substance abuse treatment.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a drug extracted from the leaves of the South American coca plant. Like other drugs, cocaine has been used by people for many years. However, the rate of use fluctuates significantly throughout different countries.

Like many other drugs, cocaine comes in various forms. The most well-known is a white powder that is snorted through the nose. Cocaine also appears in small rock-shaped crystals – this is called crack cocaine.

Cocaine mainly affects the central nervous system, as uncovered in an International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, and Toxicology study. Cocaine creates a spike in neurotransmitters – also known as brain chemicals – including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?

Cocaine is physically and psychologically addictive. It acts on the brain’s limbic system, producing psychoactive and addictive effects by acting on a set of interconnected regions that regulate pleasure and motivation.

Although the short-term effects of cocaine can seem appealing, it can also rapidly produce some adverse side effects, such as aggression, irritability, paranoia, and impaired mental health. These effects can be felt within minutes of using the drug and can last for up to an hour.

If you use cocaine frequently, you will begin to adapt to the spikes in neurotransmitters. This means your tolerance increases, causing you to use a higher quantity of cocaine to feel high.

Because of the rapid and intense high that users typically feel, cocaine is commonly abused in a binge cycle. During this cycle, cocaine users take dose after dose to maintain the initial high, which is often followed by an intense crash, leaving them experiencing depression, lethargy, and strong urges to use the drug.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classes cocaine as a Schedule II controlled substance. Drugs within this classification have limited medical use. However, they are very rarely administered. Generally, cocaine is an illicit drug with a high potential for abuse and addiction.

The breakdown of people living with cocaine addictions shows that men are more likely to abuse the drug. Still, research hasn’t defined whether this is because of physiological or environmental factors or a combination of both.

How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?

Cocaine works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, a natural chemical related to the control of movement and reward.

In normal brain function, dopamine recycles back into cells that release it, inhibiting the signal between nerve cells. Cocaine stops dopamine from being recycled, resulting in large amounts building up in the space between two nerve cells, preventing normal communication.

These high levels of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit encourage drug-taking. As noted above, if you continue to use cocaine over time, your reward circuit eventually adapts. Therefore, you will need to take higher quantities at more frequent intervals to feel the same high and ease any withdrawal symptoms you may experience.

What Are the Health Impacts of Cocaine Abuse?

There are many short and long-term effects of cocaine use. Below, we look at some of the health impacts typically experienced by people who abuse cocaine.

Short-Term Impacts of Drug Abuse

The short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Increased senses
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia

Some people believe that using cocaine increases their abilities to fulfill certain physical and mental activities. Therefore, cocaine is often associated with particularly demanding or stressful industries. Research by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that the foodservice and hospitality industry had 19.1% rates of cocaine use, and the arts and entertainment industry had 13.7% rates of cocaine use.

As a fast-acting drug, the effects of cocaine use appear within minutes, and they disappear anywhere between 10 minutes and one hour later. Taking large quantities of cocaine can lead to strange, unpredictable, and aggressive behavior.

The length of time the effects last depends on how cocaine is used. For example, if you smoke or inject cocaine, the drug creates a faster, more intense high lasting approximately five to 10 minutes. Snorting cocaine could see the effects last up to 30 minutes, but they may be less intense.

Some of the other effects of cocaine and drug abuse include:

  • Pupil dilation
  • Nausea
  • Increased body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle twitches

Long-Term Impacts of Drug Abuse

The long-term health effects cocaine use causes vary depending on its use.

If you snort cocaine, the following long-term impacts may arise:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Constant runny nose
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Pain and difficulty swallowing

If you smoke cocaine, long-term impacts could include:

  • Respiratory issues
  • Coughing
  • High risk of pneumonia

In addition to the above, when cocaine is consumed through the mouth, health impacts include bowel decay from reduced blood flow. If cocaine is administered via a needle, there is a high risk of contracting blood-borne diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C, and skin or soft tissue infections. Cocaine addiction can also impair your mental health, increasing the risk of a co-occurring disorder.

The Dangers of Cocaine Addiction

If you use cocaine, you may gradually come to notice a decrease in your appetite, which can increase your risk of becoming malnourished. Cocaine is also associated with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, after prolonged use.

When abusing cocaine, it is also common for you to experience agitation. Likewise, you may feel uneasy after taking large amounts. In more severe cases or after a period of binging, you may experience intense paranoia, causing you to see images or hear noises that aren’t there.

While the impacts of cocaine use on the brain are significant, the rest of the body is also impacted. Vital organs like the heart, lungs, and blood vessels can all be damaged. Research has shown that cocaine dependence causes damage to the heart and cardiovascular system, which increases your risk of heart-related issues, including heart attacks.

Although many people overlook some of the dangers of cocaine use, becoming addicted to cocaine presents a high risk of a cocaine overdose. If mixed with other substances, particularly alcohol and heroin, the risk of a lethal cocaine overdose increases.

One of the most dangerous psychological consequences of cocaine abuse is how it alters your emotional state, particularly after heavy binges or during withdrawal. Suicidal thoughts and deep bouts of depression are common for people with cocaine use disorder.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine withdrawal and treatment can be challenging, but they do not usually have associated health risks if you choose a medically certified treatment provider.

Although withdrawal symptoms can be distressing, they generally subside within a couple of weeks. However, it’s important to remember that this is the first part of the journey. Cocaine dependency is extremely powerful and complex. Maintaining sobriety, therefore, requires strength and concerted effort, especially as cravings and urges to use cocaine can continue for years after the last use. For this particular reason, building a strong support community is imperative to life-long recovery.

At Empowered Recovery, we can provide a lifeline for those looking for a way to beat substance abuse. We take a person-centered approach and look at all aspects of health – from the psychological to the physical – to form a compassionate and understanding position.

Seeking Help for Substance Abuse

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug, and addiction can bring severe health implications. Your health, happiness, and relationships are all compromised by remaining in cocaine addiction.

But there is hope. Cocaine addiction is treatable, and help is available for you. If you struggle with a substance use disorder or think you are at risk for a potential psychological addiction, contact us today to discuss treatment.

Likewise, if you are worried that a loved one is addicted to cocaine and requires addiction treatment, please reach out to us for help and support.

At Empowered Recovery, our team has extensive expertise in the area of addiction. Our treatment programs are unique and client-focused.

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    Marietta, GA 30066

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