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Cocaine

Learn the effects of cocaine use and the addictive properties of the drug.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine made its appearance in 1860 in the pharmaceutical world when scientist Albert Neimann was able to isolate an active ingredient in the coca leaf. In the late 1800s, cocaine was used as a painkiller, more specifically, a type of local anesthesia; that is until the medical world understood its negative effects and addictive nature. In some forms and circumstances, it is still used today under medical practices.

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant and is categorized as a Schedule II drug by the DEA. This means that cocaine has a high potential for abuse, with use, potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Originally, cocaine is derived from the leaves of the coca plant in South America.

Recreational cocaine is smuggled into countries then often mixed with other powdered agents to bulk it up and allow dealers to get more profit. It is also often mixed with other illegal substances such as other stimulants or opioids, making the combination extremely dangerous and sometimes even deadly.

Cocaine addiction can occur easily, as the euphoria it creates leaves users wanting even more.

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Cocaine Use and Addiction

Cocaine use is widespread throughout the United States.

According to a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study based on data from 2016, approximately 1.9% of teenagers ages 12 to 17 reported cocaine use. In contrast, the next two chronological age groups represent the highest rates of cocaine use. Young adults ages 18 to 25 reported cocaine use at 5.6% followed by adults ages 26 to 34 at 3.8%. These results indicate that age is a large factor in cocaine use.

Note that these numbers are representative only from this particular study and do not necessarily represent the entire country, which may have a higher overall rate of use.

Addiction experts have study results available to the public entitled Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs for 8th Graders, 10th Graders, and 12th Graders, that show the use of cocaine and crack cocaine among young people.

Cocaine use and addiction is a prevalent problem that needs to be dealt with.

Cocaine addiction happens similarly to other stimulant drugs. Long-term changes in the brain’s reward system begin happening after the frequent use of cocaine. Note that cocaine and crack cocaine addiction are similar but may result in varying symptoms and effects based on the method by which the substance is taken into the body.

The reward circuit eventually adapts to the extra dopamine caused by the drug, becoming steadily less sensitive to it. As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses to feel the same high they did initially and to obtain relief from withdrawal, (DrugAbuse.gov).

There are short and long-term effects from the use of cocaine that are devastating to the mind and body.

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    Effects of Cocaine Addiction

    There are signs of cocaine addiction that are quite obvious—some are similar to the use of other substances.

    The most common cocaine addiction symptoms are:

    • Hyperactivity
    • Agitation
    • Over-enthusiasm
    • Involuntary movements
    • Lack of inhibition
    • Changes in focus

    There are also short and long-term effects of cocaine addiction that individuals should be aware of. Some of these are extremely serious and can result in long-haul disease and even eventually death.

    • Headaches
    • Paranoia
    • Decreased appetite
    • Sensitivity to sounds and light
    • Nosebleeds
    • Convulsions
    • Seizures
    • Mood problems
    • Lung problems
    • Sexual trouble
    • Bowel decay
    • Loss of smell
    • Stroke
    • Heart attack
    • Heart disease

    For people who are knowledgeable about the signs and symptoms, cocaine addict behavior can be easy to spot.

    Factors that Influence Addiction

    Addiction, in general, comes about due to varying factors. One addict’s experience will be unique and different from another addict’s.

    Both environmental factors and biological factors play a significant role in whether or not someone will become addicted to any substance. The role each of these plays and the way they affect the body and the brain chemistry is called epigenetics.

    Lifestyle, socioeconomic status, availability, price, and even random chance influence what age a person gains access to a substance, how frequently they have access to it, what type of substance it is, and they also play a role in the increased risk of addiction.

    How drug use begins and progresses will be different for each individual. Each individual comes with unique experiences from birth as well as risk factors that may make them more vulnerable to addiction.

    How Cocaine Use is Diagnosed?

    Under the DSM-5, there are specific criteria that licensed professionals to use to diagnose someone addicted to cocaine. This diagnosis is classified under Stimulant Use Disorder—Cocaine.

    There are three categories under stimulant use disorder, which are mild, moderate, and severe.

    Staff who work in cocaine addiction treatment centers can use this valuable information to help intervene and treat each individual patient based on their needs.

    Common Drug Combinations

    There are common drugs of choice that some addicts choose to mix with cocaine to get a different type of high. Furthermore, there are also specific drug combinations that should not be mixed together due to the risk of death.

    Polydrug use is considered using more than one drug at a time to intensify the effects of the original drug.

    For instance, addicts often combine alcohol and opioids with cocaine to increase the euphoric effect.

    When cocaine is distributed, an addict takes the risk of the product not being pure. Cocaine off the streets generally contains impurities and is “cut” with other substances.

    Common cocaine addictives include:

    • Laundry detergent
    • Laxatives
    • Caffeine
    • Boric acid
    • Local anesthetics like procaine
    • Creatine

    Using cocaine itself is a risky move; not knowing where it comes from and what is in it is even riskier.

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    Treatment and Resources for Cocaine Use

    Those abusing the drug should seek out cocaine addiction treatment. All addiction treatment centers will accept addicts who are looking to detox and recover.

    Medication-assisted treatment is a possible cocaine addiction treatment method. This intervention uses pharmaceuticals under the direct supervision of a professional in order to help patients detox, curb cravings, and ease withdrawal symptoms.

    Cognitive behavior therapy, which includes individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy, along with an aftercare program are the best treatments for cocaine addiction.

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