Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that produces severe psychological addiction. It comes from the coca plant, and it has been used for hundreds of years. Users often snort cocaine, although some people smoke and inject it. Withdrawing from cocaine abuse results in severe cravings and depression, and overdose can cause heart attack and death.
The coca plant is indigenous to South America, and people have chewed the leaves of the coca plant for hundreds of years — for both medical purposes and as a recreational drug. When the Spanish explored South America in the 1500s, they began taxing the coca crop after they discovered the mental effects of cocaine. The drug spread to Europe, where a German scientist discovered and named the compound that causes its psychoactive effects. In the past, cocaine and coca leaves were used to “cure” everything from dandruff to flatulence; today cocaine has limited clinical use as a topical anesthetic.
It wasn’t long before people discovered that the chronic abuse of cocaine quickly turns into addiction. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, workers used cocaine to increase productivity and enhance strength. Many employers of the time provided cocaine so their employees would work overtime. From the textile mills of the northeast to the mines of Colorado, people got hooked on coke — and the drug developed a reputation for danger, crime, violence and corruption.
What to Know About Cocaine
Cocaine stimulates the reward pathways in the brain. With chronic abuse, cocaine causes problems with heartbeat, body temperature and blood pressure. Psychologically, people who abuse cocaine often develop intense paranoid fantasies and violent temperaments. During use, the individual who uses cocaine might appear euphoric at first. Over time, agitation, restlessness and anxiety develop. After a binge, depression and anxiety result. Exhaustion also occurs. People who struggle with cocaine addiction often have appetite problems, nasal congestion and sleep issues that range from insomnia to oversleeping.
Although cocaine does not cause physical dependency, it is still among the most addictive drugs in existence. Quitting is extremely challenging because of the intensity of the psychological withdrawal. Psychological withdrawal symptoms include disturbing and vivid dreams, intense cravings to use cocaine, depression, suicide ideation and agitation.
The Physical Effects of Cocaine
Although cocaine does not produce physical dependency in the brain, it can cause serious damage to organs and systems. Death resulting from overdose and subsequent heart attack is the most serious and common physical effect. Intravenous drug users also put themselves at risk of a variety of diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. People who smoke cocaine in crack form often suffer lung trauma.
Like many stimulants, cocaine abuse causes tooth grinding that may lead to tooth decay when combined with dry mouth. The collapse of nasal passages from snorting, gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and pain, kidney failure and the development of serious autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, all occur as results of cocaine abuse.
Identifying Cocaine Addiction and Abuse
People who abuse cocaine demonstrate certain physical, emotional and lifestyle symptoms. These symptoms include:
- • Nasal problems, including a loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds and congestion
- • Difficulty swallowing
- • Hoarse voice
- • Periods of euphoria or agitation followed by lethargy and depression
- • Paraphernalia such as pipes, needles or small plastic bags
- • Changes in weight
- • Worsening money or legal problems
- • Worsening neglect of household, career and family responsibilities
- • Spending more time finding and using cocaine
If these symptoms sound familiar, the time to get help is now.
What to Know About Crack Cocaine
Cocaine comes in a powder form that can be snorted or added to liquid and injected. Crack cocaine, known as “freebase,” is a rock crystal-like substance that users typically smoke in a glass pipe. Many users claim that crack is the drug’s most addictive form. It produces a fast, intense high and an instant craving for more crack when the high wears off. During the rush, the brain floods the body with dopamine, causing an intense euphoria. Because it takes a longer time for the brain to replenish dopamine stores than the rush actually lasts, subsequent hits weaken in intensity.
During a crack cocaine binge, the user takes more and more drugs in an attempt to achieve the first high’s strength. This causes worsening anxiety, paranoia and anger. The most severely addicted people suffer from hallucinations and psychosis. In addition, because an illicit manufacturer might add a toxic substance to crack in order to increase profits, people who smoke crack are at a higher risk of developing serious health complications related to ingesting hazardous toxins.
Cocaine Rehab and Recovery
Most people who become addicted to cocaine start with casual or occasional abuse. Cocaine teaches the brain that the mental rewards it provides are so great that everything should be sacrificed to get high again. People who become addicted to cocaine wind up doing things they could never imagine doing when sober. From stealing money to harming their children, cocaine addiction causes intense damage physically, emotionally and spiritually to the addict and to the addict’s loved ones.
At 12 Keys Rehab, we help people beat cocaine addiction, even when rehab has been tried before. Our staff is well qualified to treat all aspects of substance abuse, including mental health disorders that commonly co-occur alongside addiction. Whether you or your loved one began using cocaine because of preexisting depression or you are suffering the aftereffects of substance abuse, our understanding staff members can help you heal and grow stronger. From managing cocaine withdrawal symptoms to uncovering and treating the roots of addiction, you can rebuild your life and relationships at 12 Keys Rehab.
Our holistic substance abuse recovery program combines medically assisted detox, multidisciplinary evidence-based therapies, 12 Step care and comprehensive aftercare. Our treatment center, which only enrolls a limited number of clients at one time, offers more one on one therapy than most other rehabs in the country. This small size also lets us keep group sessions small, which is something our clients appreciate — we’ve found that smaller settings are less intimidating and foster a closer client community.
When inpatient care ends, our staff works with clients and their family members in the development of a comprehensive aftercare plan that addresses specific lifestyle needs. That makes it possible for us to stay a part of our clients’ lives. For more information on 12 Keys Rehab, call us at any time. We can help you find your path to freedom, starting today.
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