Cocaine, which is made from the coca plant, has been a popular street drug in the United States and the world for many, many years. Unfortunately, cocaine can be quite addictive, leading to health complications and a breakdown of the users life to the point where recovery becomes a necessity.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2013 cocaine was cited by nearly 6 percent of the people seeking admission to treatment programs. The statistics also indicate that a large portion of those users – 68 percent – were smoking cocaine in its crack cocaine form.
Cocaine is considered Schedule II, which indicates that it does have a high potential for abuse. However, unlike Schedule I drugs, it is possible for cocaine to have therapeutic uses if it is administered by a medical doctor.
While cocaine can be very addictive, there are treatment options available that can help you or your loved one recover. Drug rehabilitation programs offer proven treatment methods for those addicted to cocaine, and these programs are extremely familiar with the challenges of cocaine addiction. Help is out there if you are ready to put an end to your dependency.
What is Cocaine?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that the native people living in South America have chewed and eaten the coca leaf for thousands of years. The leaf provides a mild stimulation, along with nutrition that is difficult to obtain in the climates where the plant naturally grows. Scientists became aware of the stimulant properties of the plant and purified the chemical responsible for the effects – cocaine hydrochloride. From the early 1900s onward, cocaine hydrochloride was used in tonics, tinctures and as a local anesthetic.
Once cocaine made it on to the street, the addictive qualities quickly became apparent. Cocaine was highly addictive, and posed a danger that could not be ignored.
Cocaine today is typically sold as a white powder. It is often cut with other substances to increase the profits of those selling it, so it is not uncommon to find other products in a street sample of cocaine. Some of the cuts are harmless, while others may be quite harmful.
How is Cocaine Used?
Cocaine is usually snorted in its powder form, or injected when dissolved into water. A base form of cocaine is also made using baking soda or ammonia, which is commonly referred to as “crack”. Crack is smoked and is even more addictive, and harmful, than standard cocaine use.
What Cocaine Does to the Body
When cocaine enters the body, it travels to the brain and interrupts the way the brain functions. The neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine are all blocked in the brain, which results in a feeling of euphoria. Energy level increases, the mood improves and an increased sense of focus occurs – in some users. In other users the reverse happens, leading to feelings of anxiety, paranoia, irritability and restlessness.
People who get addicted to cocaine are most likely feeling the more positive effects, but unfortunately those effects are often quite short-lived. The faster the drug gets into the system, the shorter but more intense the high. Snorting a dose might result in a mild high for 15 or 30 minutes, while smoking cocaine might result in a more intense high that only lasts 5 or 10 minutes.
Cocaine use, particularly long-term use, can lead to a variety of negative health effects, including:
Depending on the circumstances and the health of the user, cocaine use can lead to heart problems. The heart rhythm may be disrupted, heart attack can occur and the user can experience seizures or strokes. It is even possible to go into a coma due to cocaine use.
Regular cocaine use can lead to increased sensitivity to the drug and more rapid onset of the negative effects. Users may feel anxiety or experience convulsions with a smaller amount of the drug than they are used to using.
Damage to the Nose
Repeated use can cause nosebleeds and a loss of smell, as well as trouble swallowing and chronic runny nose.
Dangers of Injection
For people who inject cocaine, all the same risks apply that apply to other intravenous drug users. Sharing needles increases the risk of HIV infection or contracting hepatitis. Some people also have allergic reactions upon injecting street cocaine, either from the cocaine or from the cuts made to the drug.
Increased Risk of Stroke
Users can experience an increased risk of stroke, along with inflammation in the heart and the arteries leading into the heart.
Rehab Treatments for Cocaine
Cocaine addiction is treatable through proper rehabilitation and medical care. While it can be challenging to go through rehab, it is ultimately a much better decision than staying addicted.
Some popular cocaine rehab treatments include:
Residential treatment centers are ideal when you want to get a new start. You can stay at the center – away from any situations where cocaine use would be possible – and go through intensive treatment for a specific period of time – usually 30 days or more. Food and lodging are provided, along with a variety of treatment options.
Long-term recovery usually requires training yourself to make different choices. Instead of choosing cocaine, you choose something healthier. Outpatient care, where you make regular visits to a treatment provider for things like individual or group therapy, can be of great help in staying sober.
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