How Cocaine Addiction Can Happen

One of the most widely abused narcotics in the history of modern society, cocaine is considered the primary drug threat in the U.S. More than 36 million people in this country have used cocaine at least once – and nearly half of all drug-related emergency room visits are related to cocaine use.

Cocaine hydrochloride is a white crystalline powder. “Crack” is cocaine hydrochloride that has been refined with either baking soda or ammonia and water into a liquid “freebase” form. Cocaine, or “blow,” can be snorted in pure powder form, where it is absorbed by the mucous membranes, or it can be dissolved in water and injected. Crack cocaine is smoked.

What Does Cocaine Feel Like?

With cocaine, the user experiences a euphoric high that heightens the senses, increases energy and mental alertness, and boosts confidence, making them feel more “alive.” This is because cocaine stimulates the brain’s pleasure receptors, dopamine, and serotonin. The effects of the drug can begin to dissipate within an hour, which triggers the desire to use again. This repeated activation of the brain’s pleasure receptors alters the brain’s chemistry so that it “remembers” that feeling of euphoria, and associates the drug with that feeling. As a result, the user believes the only way to achieve that sense of well-being again is to use more cocaine. Different forms of cocaine, such as crack, can be absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream. However, faster absorption also results in a shorter high.

Once the effects of the drug have worn off, the user experiences a “crash” which can lead to severe fatigue and depression, prompting the desire to use again. With repeated use the body develops a tolerance to the drug, so more cocaine is required to achieve the same high. Additionally, since cocaine is a stimulant, users will often resort to alcohol or other drugs to “come down” or induce sleep when needed.

 

Physical Effects of Cocaine Use

The physical effects of cocaine can begin to manifest even after the first use. Initially, the user may experience dilated pupils, a manic “rush” of energy, elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, or fever. The effects of prolonged cocaine use include tremors, severe weight loss as a result of a decrease in appetite, constriction of blood vessels which could eventually lead to heart attack or stroke, sexual dysfunction, respiratory problems, itching or a sensation of skin “crawling,” and even convulsions. Snorting cocaine can damage the sinuses and mucous membranes, causing nosebleeds and eventually a deviated septum. Repeated use severely impairs the central nervous system, the brain, and cognitive function.

Psychological Effects of Cocaine Use

Psychologically, repeated cocaine use can cause panic attacks, severe mood swings, paranoia, hallucinations, and erratic behavior. Habitual users may begin to demonstrate personality changes akin to schizophrenia. Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine can include delirium tremens, anxiety, exhaustion, depression, nausea, and vomiting.

Cocaine addiction affects the way the user processes information and handles interpersonal relationships. It can also lead to such severe eating and sleeping disorders that the user can no longer carry out the normal activities of daily life. 

At Transformations By The Gulf, we understand how cocaine addiction can take over your life. We tailor individual, an innovative treatment that will address your needs – body, mind, and spirit – so you can get your life back on track. Your individualized drug treatment program might include outpatient detox, individual therapy, group therapy, holistic treatments, boating therapy, family therapy and a wide array of adjunct treatment services designed to ensure you receive world-class addiction treatment and achieve sustained recovery. Let’s start getting sober (866) 335-2962