Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug and over 5 million Americans reportedly abuse cocaine. Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. Unfortunately, many people do not realize they are addicted to cocaine until it is too late.
Cocaine addiction often begins with occasional use, but it can quickly escalate into a substance abuse problem. Early recognition of the signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse can help prevent addiction and other adverse health effects. Some common symptoms of cocaine abuse include euphoria, increased energy, talkativeness, paranoia, and changes in mood or behavior.
In this article, we will talk about the symptoms of cocaine usage and addiction signs so you can identify them in yourself or someone else.
What is crack cocaine?
Crack cocaine is a more addictive and harmful derivative of cocaine prepared by a chemical process where coke is mixed with water and baking soda. The three components are first mixed together to form a liquid and then boiled down till it condenses into a solid. Then it is cooled down smashed into smaller pieces and crushed to form a powdered crack.
Many people believe that crack is more addictive than cocaine because it is smoked rather than snorted. Smoking cocaine allows the drug to reach the brain more quickly and creates a more intense high. Additionally, crack is often cheaper and more readily available than cocaine, which can contribute to its increased use and addiction potential.
Moreover, since it’s a concentrated form of the drug, hence making it more addictive than powdered cocaine. Crack addiction can lead to a number of serious health consequences, including heart attack, stroke, mental illness, and significant medical complications include seizures, cardiac arrhythmias and respiratory arrest.
More About Cocaine Abuse
Though once thought of as a party drug, the effects of cocaine abuse have long-lasting, negative consequences on the health and well-being of a cocaine addict. Cocaine addiction can develop quickly, especially if the drug is smoked or injected as “an initial, short-term effect—a buildup of the neurochemical dopamine—gives rise to euphoria and a desire to take the drug again” (The Neurobiology of Cocaine Addition, Nestler, 2005). The risk of addiction also increases if it is used frequently or in large doses. Addiction can occur even after just one use.
Before we jump to the side effects and symptoms of cocaine addiction, let’s first understand how one becomes addicted to cocaine. Like most street drugs, cocaine triggers the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine otherwise known as the feel-good hormone. After snorting cocaine, the user feels instant euphoria or a feeling of calm and relief.
However, the stimulant effect is short-lived but leads the user to consume progressively larger doses of the drug more often to attain a high of similar intensity, leading them to abuse cocaine as well as other drugs. Often times the root cause of cocaine usage in addicts is depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses. Due to these co-occurring disorders, they abuse drugs to feel pleasure, but they get trapped in a never-ending binge and crash pattern.
Early Symptoms Of Cocaine Use
Cocaine addiction is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences. The early symptoms of cocaine addiction can be difficult to spot, as they may be subtle or easily dismissed as something else. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential signs of cocaine abuse so that you can get help for yourself or a loved one before the addiction takes hold. Some of the early and short-term effects of cocaine addiction include:
- Increased energy and alertness
- Impaired judgment
- Reduced inhibitions
- Intense euphoria
- Increased alertness
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Mood symptoms i.e. anxiety and anger
- Damaged blood bessels
Since cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that is the major controller of bodily functions, therefore the user of the drug experiences a sudden state of heightened attentiveness and hyperactivity.
Cocaine works by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for pleasure and reward-motivated behavior. When cocaine enters the bloodstream, it rapidly travels to the brain where it binds to and blocks dopamine transporters. This prevents dopamine from being recycled back into the neuron, causing an accumulation of dopamine in the synapse. The resulting increase in dopamine activity produces the stimulant effects of cocaine.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these symptoms of cocaine use, it’s important to seek addiction treatment and help from a professional as soon as possible.
Side Effects Of Cocaine Addiction
Long-term cocaine use can lead to a number of physical and psychological health problems.
Chronic users may suffer from impaired liver function, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and gastrointestinal problems. For example, chronic cocaine abusers can damage the heart and blood vessels due to increased blood pressure, leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Excessive snorting of powdered cocaine also has a numbing effect on the mucous membranes in the nose. When snorted, cocaine damages the delicate membranes of the nasal cavity and throat, which can lead to a host of problems. These include:
- Nasal congestion
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Sores or ulcers in the nose
- Perforated septum (a hole in the cartilage that separates the nostrils)
Moreover, some addicts become prone to skin infections or other blood-borne pathogens when injecting cocaine due to the lack of proper infection prevention procedures.
In addition, chronic cocaine use can lead to neurological problems such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating. The prevalence of cocaine abuse by patients with schizophrenia has led researchers to investigate features of the disorder correlated with abuse, as well as the development of bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression.
In addition, chronic cocaine use can lead to paranoid delusions and violent behavior. If you or someone you love is struggling with cocaine addiction, please get help today. Treatment for long-term cocaine addiction typically involves a combination of medication and counseling. With proper treatment, many individuals are able to recover from their addiction and live healthy, productive lives.
Causes Of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Though healthcare professionals can use cocaine for legitimate medical purposes, such as local anesthesia for some surgeries, recreational cocaine use is illegal. Research suggests that various risk factors play a role in why someone might abuse cocaine
- Poor mental health is a major contributor to drug use since people tend to chase the high that comes after their consumption. Past traumas such as child abuse, death or loss of a friend or family, divorce, etc, can also be one of the major risk factors.
- Genetics also play an important role in developing addiction as research has proven that you have a higher chance of abusing a drug if you have a relative with a substance abuse problem. The chances are even higher if you are a first-degree relative.
- Peer pressure is often cited as a leading cause of drug abuse, as individuals may feel pressured to use drugs in order to fit in with a certain group or be accepted by friends. This pressure can be especially strong during adolescence when individuals are trying to establish their identity and figure out where they belong. As sometimes it takes a single dose of cocaine to develop an addiction.
If you or someone you know is struggling with or displaying any signs and symptoms of drug addiction, please seek help from professionals at a treatment center.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
When someone uses cocaine regularly, they build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning they need to take increasingly larger doses to get the same effects. This can lead to dependence, and eventually addiction. When people with a cocaine addiction try to quit, they can experience withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
These symptoms can make it difficult to stick to a quitting plan. However, there are treatments available that can help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and increase the chances of long-term abstinence. Medications, behavioral therapies, and support groups are all effective tools for managing cocaine withdrawal and staying sober in the long term.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Cocaine addiction is a serious problem that affects the lives of millions of people around the world. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to overcoming an addiction, there are a number of effective treatments available.
One of the most important aspects of treatment is addressing the underlying psychological issues that may contribute to drug use. Many people who struggle with drug abuse also suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems. Treating these underlying conditions can be an important step in recovery.
There are many treatment centers that offer holistic medical care to patients struggling with drug abuse. The highly trained staff at these treatment facilities have heightened preventative measures and symptom screening protocols in place to help individuals fight withdrawal symptoms.
The Medication-Assisted Treatment at Lantana Recovery is designed to treat co-occurring disorders where the patient is simultaneously suffering from a mental disorder and substance abuse. The patients are consistently monitored in our treatment facility during their control training which empowers them to fight concentration and intense cravings. We use the medication in conjunction with behavioral therapy and support groups to treat the underlying mental health issue in our patients.
In response to covid-19, we have implemented physical distancing strategies and the use of personal protective equipment items for both our staff and patients. Since our patients’ safety is our utmost priority, that is why we are continuously in contact with the local health department to stay updated about the latest health advisories.
Our staff maintains proper distance from the patients and their visitors and provides hygiene guidance to contain the spread of the virus within our treatment center. We also advise our patients to immediately dispose of the patient care supplies provided to them during the course of treatment.
We also offer on-site visitation so that our patients can remain connected to their friends and family while seeking treatment in our treatment facility.
Any time you suspect signs of cocaine use or early warning signs in someone you know, you should immediately have them seek treatment at an addiction treatment center, where they can be continuously evaluated by trained professionals and therapists.
Although an illegal drug, cocaine usage is still rampant throughout the world affecting millions of people. However, with the right treatment and support from Lantana, it is possible to overcome cocaine addiction and live a healthy, happy life.