Cocaine is, very unfortunately for those addicted, a very powerful stimulant. It affects the brain and pushes an addict to do things he or she would never have done prior to addiction. Cocaine has become very popular recently but it is not a new drug. It has been abused for over 100 years. It comes from coca leaves, and these have been used for thousands of years at least.
Cocaine comes as a powder or it can be in the form of small off-white rocks. When sold on the street as a powder it is called “coke,” “snow,” “C,” “blow,” or “flake.” It is diluted with things such as sugar, cornstarch or talcum powder. It sometimes is mixed with other stimulants.
When sold in the form of rocks, it is called crack cocaine and is processed with ammonia or baking soda. This is a less expensive form of cocaine, but is quickly addictive.
Cocaine gives a feeling of pleasure, a powerful high as it creates changes in the brain. It is actually a poison, and like any poisons, if you take too much, it will cause death. However, small amounts will create these great feelings, dispensing with depression, problems and unhappiness. This is why people so often start using cocaine. They wish to feel that pleasure and forget about their troubles for just a little while.
Greater and greater amounts of the drug are needed to get back that feeling of pleasure, however. Cravings for the drug cause the addict to use again and again. But when he doesn’t feel that wonderful high, he will use more.
It is one of the most difficult drugs to stop using once addicted. And it is very easy to become addicted to it.
Someone takes cocaine through the mouth (chewing), snorting up the nose (snorting), injecting it in veins (mainlining or injecting) or inhaling it (smoking). Injecting or smoking heightens the effects. When someone combines cocaine with heroin, it is called a “speedball.”
Cocaine users build up a tolerance as they use the drug, and will need higher and higher doses to get the same level of pleasure as earlier doses. When the addict goes a while without using the drug, he or she will get strong cravings for more, to reach that euphoria experienced from prior use. Some cocaine users go through rehab only to find later that the cravings return and they relapse into a life of drug abuse once more.
While using the drug, the person will act more alert, feel very energetic and confident. He will often be very talkative. Their pupils will be dilated. Their nose may run. Breathing is faster and they will feel warm or sweaty. If the person has not used the drug in a while, he may seem irritable or depressed.
Some of the short-term effects of cocaine abuse are not always easy to spot. The person has a decreased appetite. His heart rate and blood pressure are higher than normal. Blood vessels constrict. Of course, more noticeable are the increased alertness, dilated pupils and higher energy level. They won’t eat or sleep as usual.
Another point to be aware of is that cocaine is expensive. Those addicted can literally spend thousands of dollars to support a habit. Celebrities have blown fortunes on the drug. As they need more and more of the drug, it begins to cost many hundreds a day to keep the cravings at bay.
More severe effects happen if a person takes a large dose, whether or not they have been using for a long time. Large doses can result in erratic and bizarre behavior, even violent actions. They might have vertigo, muscle twitches, and feel paranoid or extremely anxious. Sometimes, even one use of the drug can result in death by cardiac or respiratory arrest.
The long-term effects of cocaine abuse are extremely dangerous. The most frequently experienced adverse body problems are disturbances to the heart, like the heart rhythm becomes chaotic, or even a heart attack can occur. The addict can have chest pain and nausea. Neurological effects include strokes, headaches and seizures. Other effects can include pain in the abdomen, fever, muscle spasms and convulsions.
General physical effects occur from the long-term bad diet and lack of sleep. The person can experience malnutrition, which opens the door for other illnesses and disease. The immune system is compromised. Mentally, the addict who has abused cocaine for a long time will suffer. He can feel intense paranoia and even have auditory hallucinations.
A toxic mixture results when a cocaine user combines alcohol consumption with cocaine. These two drugs are converted into something called cocaethylene. This is the combination that most often results in death for a cocaine addict.
Cocaine withdrawal brings on a whole set of different symptoms. When a cocaine addict tries to abstain from using the drug, he will experience all or some of the following:
>Heavy cravings for the drug
Many who attempt to withdraw try and use other medications to alleviate their symptoms. This just results in the addict becoming addicted to another drug or alcohol substitute.
You will see the signs of cocaine abuse if you look around the environment of the person. You will see the paraphernalia associated with cocaine use. If the person is snorting cocaine, you will see straws or rolled paper and perhaps razor blades and small mirrors.
If the individual is shooting or injecting the drug, you will find syringes and needles. There may be surgical tubing that he uses to tie on his arm to enlarge the veins. Spoons with cocaine residue may be in evidence.
When a cocaine user is smoking crack cocaine, you will find little glass pipes and other smoking apparatus. The drug itself is sold in small vials or baggies, so you may discover these as well.
There are some cocaine addicts who can manage to quit by themselves, although it is quite painful. Most addicts need assistance. It is hard to quit cocaine, but with the right treatment options, it is very possible to stop using.
There are both inpatient and outpatient treatments available, however the longer-term residential inpatient treatment is more effective for the cocaine addict. It is more beneficial for the person to be completely removed from his normal environment during treatment. It removes the temptations and associations of that addicted life.
Medical-oriented drug rehabs may use a prescription drug called Topiramate. This is currently being tried out as a solution to cocaine addiction. The problem with this drug is that the withdrawal symptoms become worse. Other drugs used in withdrawal often have horrific side effects. It is best to find an effective drug rehab that does not use substitute drugs or medications.
Short-term treatment programs will not necessarily get lasting results. The longer a cocaine addict stays in treatment, the better. A drug rehab program should be taken that will keep the person in recovery as long as it takes. Generally, it is best to match the treatment with the addict’s beliefs and preferences and needs.
It is clear that cocaine is a destroyer of lives. The cocaine addict not only loses everything in his life (from family, friends and other relationships to money and jobs) but endangers his own life. Those cravings drive him and he will do anything to find that next fix. Underneath he knows something must change, but he is usually powerless to do anything himself. It takes those who love him to get done whatever is needed to get him or her into rehab.An addict can find effective help in the right drug treatment program. He can get back a real life without the use of drugs. He can become a productive member of society again, achieving goals and dreams and prospering.
An addict can find effective help in the right drug treatment program. He can get back a real life without the use of drugs. He can become a productive member of society again, achieving goals and dreams and prospering.