Drug and Alcohol

Cocaine: It’s a Short Walk to Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine: It’s a Short Walk to Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a popular party drug, but it’s also extremely addictive and will cause damage to your life. Learn how in our blog.

Approximately 5.2 million people reported taking cocaine within the previous 12 months, as part of the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by SAMSHA. Ages 12 and up are included in this data set.

The CDC produced a report that same year estimating that 19,447 people had died from cocaine overdoses. [CDC Wonder Database]

The number of people who have used cocaine in the United States is estimated to be around 39.3 million. [Statista]

It's little wonder, then, that America and other countries have declared a "War on Drugs."

Cocaine is a stimulant that occurs naturally and is derived from the coca plant leaves, or Erythroxylon coca, a shrub native to the Andean region of South America. This substance ranks high on the lists of both addictiveness and mortality.

After a lengthy hiatus, cocaine consumption has become widespread in the United States again. Only a small percentage of the population has used cocaine. Consequently, there has been a resurgence of curiosity about it ... and a painful rediscovery of the negative outcomes surrounding the drug. The last epidemic of cocaine use occurred around the turn of the 21st century.

Today, cocaine can be found just about anywhere in the world.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a controlled substance; hence any misuse of it is considered abuse. In the US, it is mainly distributed in two forms: a powder and a crystalized version known as crack cocaine.

In its purest form, cocaine is a white powder generally sold on the streets with fillers like lactose, lidocaine, or even baking soda. It can also be found as a mix with other substances, such as methamphetamines or heroin. Because it looks like a packet of harmless white powder, cocaine can be combined with various things. And since its purity and strength are hard to determine, it is easy to risk a cocaine overdose

The immediate effects of cocaine can be so pleasurable and desirable that there is a strong desire to want to believe that the drug is safe. It acts as a stimulant to the dopamine receptors in our central nervous system. A large amount of dopamine builds up in the synapses between neurons and causes a satisfying high.

When this pattern of cocaine abuse continues, this innocuous-looking white substance alters our brain chemistry for the worse. It causes tolerance, dependency, and addiction to the drug. It's one of the most dangerous drugs to abuse.

Reasons Which Can Drive Cocaine Abuse & Cocaine Addiction

So, why do some people abuse cocaine and eventually get addicted? Many scholars and researchers have come to the understanding that abuse of any illegal drug, like cocaine, is an outcome of various dynamics. All these factors work in conjunction and increase the chances of a person being addicted to abusing cocaine.

Read on to find out the leading causes of addiction, and why people who abuse cocaine sooner or later will develop an addiction: 

Genetics

It is hard to find out the actual reason why people abuse cocaine. However, to some extent, science has helped show that people are more likely to harm cocaine because of genes. In addition, people with addicted parents may be more likely to become addicts. For instance, childhood trauma can result in mental illnesses that increase the chance of addiction.

Moreover, those who have a family history of addiction can be at a greater risk of exposure to drugs than other people. They may also consider ingesting drugs a normal and acceptable activity to mask their emotions and feelings.   

Physical Traits

According to one theory, some people are born with behavioral traits that make them more likely to get addicted to stimulants and abuse drugs like cocaine. Furthermore, individuals who abuse cocaine may be doing so to overactive neurotransmitters that control euphoria and the body's general functioning.

Mental Health

Regrettably, like with other substance abuse issues, those suffering from mental health issues are more likely to develop a cocaine addiction. Addiction frequently begins with major depression or anxiety.

In this capitalistic society, it is understandable that things that bring solace and joy to humans are hard to find. The difficulty of living with a mental illness can push people into the dark abyss of abusing illegal substances.

The sense of belonging and the small moments of happiness that are supposed to be our source of dopamine have now been replaced by the momentary comfort that cocaine provides. 

Social Pressures

Feelings of increased energy and confidence are among the immediate effects of cocaine abuse. This makes social cocaine use fairly prevalent. Due to its social effects, which can make users feel more attentive and at ease in social settings, cocaine is one of the most well-known "party drugs."

People who initially feel the need to take cocaine in social settings may end up being addicted to it as a result and start using it when they are alone. 'Functioning addicts' are also rather prevalent when it comes to cocaine.

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Recognize the Signs of Cocaine Abuse

Depending on each person's consumption habits, genetic makeup, length of addiction, the amount of ingested, and the presence of other substances, the symptoms of cocaine abuse and addiction will differ.

Here is a list of the primary signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse:

Behavior-related symptoms:

  • Tendency to be excited about illegal activities 

  • Lots of energy

  • Risk-taking behavior 

  • Talkativeness

  • Talking about random topics one after the other

Physical Symptoms:

  • No fixed sleeping patterns

  • Bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils

  • Erratic eating habits

  • Cardiac arrhythmias

  • High libido

  • Prone to seizures

  • Fast beating heart

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Focusing an unhealthy amount on one job

  • Being excessively alert

  • Feelings of unwarranted confidence and being useful

Psychosocial Symptoms:

  • Depressing thoughts & feelings

  • Anxiousness

  • Incidents of hallucinations 

  • Being unable to stay at one place

  • Feeling euphoric or paranoid 

  • Facing sudden mood changes 

Health Effects of Cocaine Abuse

First-time abuse of cocaine can lead to feelings of an intense high. However, as you continue doing this regularly, the dose you need to feel a powerful high keeps increasing. A usual cocaine high includes exhilaration, increased energy and confidence, and general well-being.

However, these positive feelings only make you more addicted to the drug. 

The daily routine of cocaine abuse exposes users to major health problems, including:

  • Potentially severe damage to the respiratory system, 

  • Increased risk of strokes or heart attacks, 

  • Chronic abrasion of tooth enamel

  • The complete disintegration of the septum – the cartilage that separates the nostrils 

Additionally, cocaine may make it more likely for individuals to contract autoimmune conditions like lupus. Because crack is a more potent type of cocaine, it carries all the same health dangers. However, because the high from crack is stronger, it also has stronger adverse effects.

Seizures spurred on by crack can commonly result in deadly respiratory arrest. The term "crack lung" is widely used to describe the irreversible damage and injuries caused to lung tissue by frequent crack usage. Often, this causes a violent cough, breathing problems, and excruciating chest discomfort.

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How Cocaine Abuse Destroys Relationships

Loss of appetite, malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss, etc., are the smaller losses acquired through long-term cocaine abuse. True losses are the relationships that suffer and end abruptly or after a long-drawn, exhaustive battle. Abusing cocaine not only deteriorates your physical and mental health by literally shutting down your organs but also strains your friendships and all other relationships in your life. It destroys all things that matter. Most people start with cocaine innocently enough. However, they unknowingly hand it the reins of their lives. Slowly, a few instances of cocaine abuse grow into a full-blown addiction.

And consequently, people start lying, cheating, stealing, and even abusing their loved ones. When a cocaine addiction takes hold, people may stop returning home at night, forget memorable times with their children, or ignore communication from their parents. They become someone their own families refuse to recognize anymore. The white powder takes over every aspect of the user's existence. 

How Cocaine Abuse Leads to Financial Turmoil

It is common knowledge by now that cocaine is expensive. Regular cocaine abuse is an expensive habit to develop. If and when a cocaine addiction develops, it is impossible to control the cravings. These hankerings may or may not be supplemented by feelings of dysphoria, anhedonia, or other symptoms characteristic of the earlier withdrawal phase. The sudden urge to consume the powdered drug can occur in association with a variety of factors, including mood states (positive as well as negative), geographic locations, specific persons or events, intoxication with other substances, or in the presence of various objects directly or indirectly connected with cocaine use. 

When an intense craving sets in, a lack of enough money would not be able to prevent the purchase of cocaine. This would force the user to make poor financial choices- sell family belongings, steal from strangers or even friends and family members, and take out loans that cannot be paid back. Apart from this, the powerful physical and psychological hold of cocaine would even prevent people from working. This would result in zero sources of income and total depletion of personal or family savings. 

Adding to the unfortunate events, a history of cocaine abuse can also land users trouble with law enforcement services. Cocaine is illegal. Every time the user buys the drug, they risk being caught by police. They could be trapped in an undercover sting operation conducted by the local police station.

Even being in possession of the drug could lead to a considerable amount of jail time. The legal repercussions will depend on the amount of cocaine you might have on you and the activity you were caught doing. Not to forget that illegal deeds like theft, rash driving, and violent behavior can also cause legal trouble. 

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Cocaine Abuse Always Ends in Addiction

Clearly, cocaine abuse on any level can ruin lives in multiple ways. Even early warning signs of cocaine abuse must be taken seriously. It is a severe health issue. The physical, mental, and psychological effects of cocaine abuse can end tragically in an overdose or even in suicide. Becoming addicted to this stimulant is no joke.

The drug always ends up taking priority over everything in an addict's life. The teen who was once a high achiever would end up skipping classes and lying to teachers and parents. The young girl on her way to becoming an entrepreneur may lose all interest in starting her own business. The lovely couple trying to start a family might end up getting a divorce. 

Why Risk the Dangers? Get Treatment for Cocaine Addiction Today at The Edge Treatment Center

The good news is that cocaine abuse can be stopped from turning into an addiction. And a cocaine addiction can be beaten. It will, undoubtedly, take a lot of willpower, discipline, dedication, and determination, but it can be treated. Throughout the entire course of trying to kick the habit of cocaine abuse, family and friends must remain supportive. Gentle and frequent reminders to your loved one that you will support them in quitting cocaine use will be helpful. No matter how annoyed the user gets, try to have a good attitude.

All it takes to overcome cocaine addiction is endurance and drive to reach the other side, where a better life is waiting for you. The most crucial step is getting out and asking for assistance. Find assistance for the person if they are a family member. It's not usually the person struggling with cocaine abuse that takes the initiative; someone else has to.

Successfully getting over a cocaine addiction or even a short-term cocaine abuse episode might be difficult, but with help from the right resources, it can be achieved. The Edge Treatment Center treats cocaine use and addiction with a highly personalized program catered to your needs. Our effective, holistic drug rehab has helped many people find their release and lead a life of sobriety. In their custom treatment plan, you will have the necessary medical assistance and supervision as you withdraw. Just one step in the right direction will lead you to a better life. 

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

December 9, 2022