Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine Crack

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

blow, C, coke, crack, flake, freebase, rock, snow

What is it?

Pure cocaine was first isolated from the leaves of the coca bush in 1860. Researchers soon discovered that cocaine numbs whatever tissues it touches, leading to its use as a local anesthetic. Today, we mostly use synthetic anesthetics, rather than cocaine.

In the 1880s, psychiatrist Sigmund Freud wrote scientific papers that praised cocaine as a treatment for many ailments, including depression and alcohol  and opioid addiction. After this, cocaine became widely and legally available in patent medicines and soft drinks.

As cocaine use increased, people began to discover its dangers. In 1911, Canada passed laws restricting the importation, manufacture, sale and possession of cocaine. The use of cocaine declined until the 1970s, when it became known for its high cost, and for the rich and glamorous people who used it. Cheaper “crack” cocaine became available in the 1980s.

Where does it come from?

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the Erythroxylum (coca) bush, which grows on the slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America. For at least 4,500 years, people in Peru and Bolivia have chewed coca leaves to lessen hunger and fatigue. Today, most of the world’s supply of coca is grown and refined into cocaine in Colombia. Criminal networks control the lucrative cocaine trade.

What does it look ?

Cocaine hydrochloride—the form in which cocaine is snorted or injected—is a white crystalline powder. It is sometimes “cut,” or mixed, with things that look it, such as cornstarch or talcum powder, or with other drugs, such as local anesthetics or amphetamines.

The base form of cocaine can be chemically processed to produce forms of cocaine that can be smoked. These forms, known as “freebase” and “crack,” look crystals or rocks.

Cocaine is often used with other drugs, especially alcohol and cannabis. Cocaine and heroin, mixed and dissolved for injection, is called a “speedball.”

Who uses it?

A 2009 survey of Ontario students in grades 7 to 12 reported that 2.6 per cent had used cocaine and 1.1 per cent had used crack at least once in the past year.

A 2007 survey of Ontario adults reported that:

  • 1.7 per cent had used cocaine in the past year.
  • 7.1 per cent had used cocaine at least once in their lifetime.

How does it make you feel?

How cocaine makes you feel depends on:

  • how much you use
  • how often and how long you use it
  • how you use it (by injection, orally, etc.)
  • your mood, expectation and environment
  • your age
  • whether you have certain medical or psychiatric conditions
  • whether you’ve taken any alcohol or other drugs (illegal, prescription, over-the-counter or herbal).

Cocaine makes people feel energetic, talkative, alert and euphoric. They feel more aware of their senses: sound, touch, sight and sexuality seem heightened. Hunger and the need for sleep are reduced. Although cocaine is a stimulant, some people find it calming, and feel increased self-control, confidence and ease with others. Other people may feel nervous and agitated, and can’t relax.

Taking high doses of cocaine for a long time can lead to:

  • panic attacks
  • psychotic symptoms, such as paranoia (feeling overly suspicious, jealous or persecuted), hallucinations (seeing, hearing, smelling, etc., things that aren’t real) and delusions (false beliefs)
  • erratic, bizarre and sometimes violent behaviour.

With regular use, people may become tolerant to the euphoric effects of cocaine. This means they need to take more and more of the drug to get the same desired effect.

At the same time, people who use the drug regularly may also become more sensitive to its negative effects, such as anxiety, psychosis (hallucinations, loss of contact with reality) and seizures.

Cocaine also makes the heart beat faster, and raises blood pressure and body temperature.

How long does the feeling last?

Intranasal use, or “snorting,” takes effect within a few minutes, and lasts about 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Injecting produces a “rush” that is felt within 30–45 seconds, and lasts 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Smoking causes a high within seconds, but it lasts only five to 10 minutes.

When the cocaine high fades, the person may begin to feel anxious and depressed, and have intense craving for more of the drug. Some people stay high by “bingeing,” or continually using the drug, for hours or days.

Is it addictive?

It can be.

Not everyone who uses cocaine becomes addicted, but if they do, it can be one of the hardest drug habits to break.

People who become addicted to cocaine lose control over their use of the drug. They feel a strong need for cocaine, even when they know it causes them medical, psychological and social problems. Getting and taking cocaine can become the most important thing in their lives.

Smoking crack, with its rapid, intense and short-lived effects, is the most addictive. However, any method of taking cocaine can lead to addiction. The amount of cocaine used, and how often people use the drug, has an effect on whether people get addicted.

Cocaine causes people to “crash” when they stop using it. When they crash, their mood swings rapidly from feeling high to feeling distressed. This brings powerful cravings for more of the drug. Bingeing to stay high leads quickly to addiction.

Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can include exhaustion, extended and restless sleep or sleeplessness, hunger, irritability, depression, suicidal thoughts and intense cravings for more of the drug. The memory of cocaine euphoria is powerful, and brings a strong risk of relapse to drug use.

Is it dangerous?


While many people use cocaine on occasion without harm, the drug can be very dangerous, whether it’s used once or often.

  • Cocaine causes the blood vessels to thicken and constrict, reducing the flow of oxygen to the heart. At the same time, cocaine causes the heart muscle to work harder, which can lead to heart attack or stroke, even in healthy people.
  • Cocaine raises blood pressure, which can cause weakened blood vessels in the brain to burst.
  • A person can overdose on even a small amount of cocaine. Overdose can cause seizures and heart failure. It can cause breathing to become weak or stop altogether. There is no antidote to cocaine overdose.
  • When cocaine is used with alcohol, the liver produces cocaethylene, a powerful compound that increases the risk of sudden death beyond the risk of using cocaine alone.

What are the long-term effects of using it?

Cocaine increases the same chemicals in the brain that make people feel good when they eat, drink or have sex. Regular cocaine use can cause lasting changes in this “reward system” of the brain, which may lead to addiction. Craving and psychiatric symptoms may continue even after drug use stops.

Regular long-term use of cocaine is associated with many serious health and behaviour problems. For example:

  • Snorting cocaine can cause sinus infections and loss of smell. It can damage tissues in the nose and cause holes in the bony separation between the nostrils inside the nose.
  • Smoking cocaine can damage the lungs and cause “crack lung.” Symptoms include severe chest pains, breathing problems and fever. Crack lung can be fatal.
  • Injection can cause infections from used needles or impurities in the drug. Sharing needles can also cause hepatitis or HIV infection.
  • Cocaine use in pregnancy may increase risk of miscarriage and premature delivery. It also increases the chance that the baby will be born underweight.
  • Because women who use cocaine during pregnancy often also use alcohol, nicotine and other drugs, we do not fully know the extent of the effects of cocaine use on the baby.
  • Cocaine use while breastfeeding transmits cocaine to the nursing child. This exposes the baby to all the effects and risks of cocaine use.
  • Cocaine use is linked with risk-taking and violent behaviours. It is also linked to poor concentration and judgment, increasing risk of injury and sexually transmitted disease.
  • Chronic use can cause severe psychiatric symptoms, including psychosis, anxiety, depression and paranoia.
  • Chronic use can also cause weight loss, malnutrition, poor health, sexual problems, infertility and loss of social and financial supports.

Copyright © 2003, 2010 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

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Источник: https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/cocaine

The Dangers Of Cocaine Addiction Explained

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Medically Reviewed By: The Hope House
Medical Review By: Alex Spritzer MSN, FNP-C, CARN-AP
Last Updated: 07/16/2021
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Deaths from cocaine have gone up each year since 2009 – with nearly 15,000 people dying from cocaine overdose in 2018. The CDC reports the most significant incline in reported deaths over the last four years as cocaine is becoming regularly mixed (or cut) with deadly opioids heroin or fentanyl.

While cocaine is generally depicted as a white powder being snorted, it can be taken a variety of ways. People may choose a different method of consumption as it will alter how the body reacts to the drug. Certain methods of using cocaine are more dangerous than others and will put the user at a higher risk of addiction or infection.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug causing euphoric effects, which is why it is abused in the first place. However, there is a long list of harmful effects from using cocaine.

Stimulants are known to raise blood pressure, increase heart rate, and increase body temperature. It can also cause problems such as:

  • Cerebral hemorrhaging
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Coma
  • Brain damage
  • Death

4 Common Ways to Use Cocaine

When taking cocaine orally people typically use the powdered form and either swallow it or rub it into their gums to be absorbed.

When taking cocaine intranasally people will usually put the powdered form of cocaine into a line and snort it into their nose. Taking cocaine this way allows it to coat the soft tissue in the nasal passage and enter the bloodstream. This process allows people to feel the effects of cocaine longer.

Cocaine consumed through inhalation is usually from someone heating crack cocaine in a pipe and inhaling the vapors. This allows the drug to take effect significantly quicker, but is more addictive this way.

Cocaine delivered intravenously is the most dangerous of all forms of cocaine consumption. It involves dissolving the powder form in water and injecting directly into your bloodstream. Shared needles and lack of medical training lead to increased risks of HIV, collapsed blood vessels, and more.

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Regular cocaine can lead to dependence. Repeated exposure to cocaine, or other addictive substances, cause alterations to neurons in the brain causing the body to develop a tolerance and require more of the drug to experience the same effects, crave the substance when it’s not present in the body, and become dependent on the drug to function.

Yes, cocaine is addictive. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug meaning it is a substance with high potential for abuse and using the drug can lead to severe physical and psychological dependence.

In general, addiction will often occur through 3 major processes.

Tolerance occurs when there is a need for an increasing amount of substance in order to feel the desired effects or to avoid the negative effects associated with withdrawal.

Craving the drug of choice is a central aspect of addiction and causes people to feel intense urges to use which can lead to continued use or relapse. For cocaine specifically, high relapse rates are common even after physical withdrawal and abstinence — which is why professional intervention is vital to successfully stopping cocaine use.

Dependence occurs with repeated use and, as the name suggests, means the body has become dependent upon the substance. The body fails to function normally and goes through dangerous withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not present.

Cocaine use triggers the release of dopamine in the brain. Cues associated with the drug, seeing someone use, can trigger this same release of dopamine, leading to cravings. From there, cravings can lead to continued use, the buildup of tolerance, and a physical dependence on the substance

Cocaine screenings are done in several ways that affect how long the drug will register in your system. Typically tests are done through urine (2-3 days), hair (multiple months), sweat (1-2 days), blood (12 hours), and saliva (1-2 days).

Other factors age, gender, and overall health can influence how long this drug will stay in your system.

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Street dealers of cocaine will often mix other substances such as flour or talcum powder with the drug in order to maximize profits. In recent years; however, they have also turned to mixing cocaine with other drugs, including synthetic opioids fentanyl.

When people don’t realize their drug has been cut with something fentanyl, they use it as they normally would but are at a much higher risk of overdose due to the small amount of fentanyl needed for an overdose. The increased use of fentanyl with cocaine has caused cocaine overdose numbers to skyrocket in recent years.

Cocaine is also considered a “club drug” and often mixed with other substances. Most popular is using cocaine while drinking alcohol excessively, or using MDMA, LSD, ketamine, meth, or GHB. Using these drugs together often increases the feelings of euphoria, but leads to an increased risk of dangerous health effects.

Whether you’re struggling with regular cocaine use or polysubstance abuse, the addiction specialists at The Hope House can help you achieve long-term sobriety.

Risk Factors of Cocaine Addiction

When looking at why people become addicted to cocaine, and substance abuse in general, there are risk factors which can make certain individuals more susceptible than others.

A person’s environment, especially at an early age, can have a huge impact on their addiction potential. Adverse Childhood Events (ACEs) tests have shown people who exhibit signs of ACEs increase risk of substance abuse later in life as well as mood and anxiety disorders.

Studies have shown substance abuse can even be an inherited trait. In fact, one study has found cocaine abuse may be the drug with the highest chance of heritability.

Some studies have found people with certain personalities are more at-risk to become addicted to cocaine. For instance, one study found people exhibiting narcissistic personality traits were more vulnerable to the initiation and maintenance of the drug.

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As with many addictions, medical professionals follow a specific set of guidelines to formally diagnose addiction to a substance. Previously, the medical field looked at substance abuse as a number of different illnesses working together. Now, the medical field recognizes that substance use disorder is a spectrum and even non-regular use can lead to long-term addiction issues.

People must meet 2 of the 11 recognized symptoms of cocaine addiction. This includes craving the substance, neglecting personal or professional obligations to use, and experiencing withdrawal when you stop using. If you are exhibiting the signs of cocaine abuse, the addiction specialists at The Hope House can help you get back on the road to recovery.

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People seeking help to stop cocaine use accounted for 6% of treatment admissions in 2013, a majority of whom use crack cocaine or multiple drugs. An addiction to cocaine, all forms of addiction, is an incredibly complex issue involving many factors.

Before treating cocaine abuse, clients should undergo evaluations to determine if there are any underlying mental health problems contributing to the addiction.

There are two main ways to treat addiction:

One form of therapy proven effective for cocaine is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It is especially effective at helping patients avoid relapses – a critical skill for achieving long-term sobriety.

This is done by teaching clients to recognize situations in which they are ly to abuse cocaine, avoid these instances, and cope with a range of problems associated with drug use.

While sometimes behavioral therapies are the only available form of treatment, the integration of both therapy and medication may be the most effective approach.

There are currently no FDA-approved forms of Medication-Assisted Treatment to treat an addiction to cocaine; however, some medications have shown promise.

For instance, disulfiram (used to treat alcoholism) has shown to reduce cocaine use.

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Finding treatment for addiction can feel daunting if you’re unsure what exactly you should look for. For the best care possible, consider The Hope House – a comprehensive addiction rehab in Arizona.

The Hope House has two luxury rehabs in the desert mountains of north Scottsdale. During your stay you will receive the highest quality of care as our masters-level clinicians work to treat your addiction and any other underlying issues which may be triggering.

If you need treatment close to home, visit FindTreatment.gov. Simply search your zip code and the site will populate with many local treatment centers available to help you with you or your loved one’s substance abuse issue.

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thousand people died from cocaine overdoses in 2018.

of drug related emergency room visits were due to cocaine.

times as many men die from cocaine overdoses.

Источник: https://www.thehopehouse.com/cocaine-addiction/

Cocaine DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. Although health care providers can use it for valid medical purposes, such as local anesthesia for some surgeries, recreational cocaine use is illegal. As a street drug, cocaine looks a fine, white, crystal powder.

Street dealers often mix it with things cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour to increase profits. They may also mix it with other drugs such as the stimulant amphetamine, or synthetic opioids, including fentanyl. Adding synthetic opioids to cocaine is especially risky when people using cocaine don’t realize it contains this dangerous additive.

Increasing numbers of overdose deaths among cocaine users might be related to this tampered cocaine.

How do people use cocaine?

People snort cocaine powder through the nose, or they rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder and inject it into the bloodstream. Some people inject a combination of cocaine and heroin, called a Speedball.

Another popular method of use is to smoke cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal (also called «freebase cocaine»). The crystal is heated to produce vapors that are inhaled into the lungs.

This form of cocaine is called Crack, which refers to the crackling sound of the rock as it's heated. Some people also smoke Crack by sprinkling it on marijuana or tobacco, and smoke it a cigarette.

People who use cocaine often take it in binges—taking the drug repeatedly within a short time, at increasingly higher doses—to maintain their high.

How does cocaine affect the brain?

Cocaine increases levels of the natural chemical messenger dopamine in brain circuits related to the control of movement and reward.

Normally, dopamine recycles back into the cell that released it, shutting off the signal between nerve cells. However, cocaine prevents dopamine from being recycled, causing large amounts to build up in the space between two nerve cells, stopping their normal communication.

This flood of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit strongly reinforces drug-taking behaviors. With continued drug use, the reward circuit may adapt, becoming less sensitive to the drug.

As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses in an attempt to feel the same high, and to obtain relief from withdrawal.

Short-Term Effects

Short-term health effects of cocaine include:

  • extreme happiness and energy
  • mental alertness
  • hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • irritability
  • paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others

Some people find that cocaine helps them perform simple physical and mental tasks more quickly, although others experience the opposite effect. Large amounts of cocaine can lead to bizarre, unpredictable, and violent behavior.

Cocaine's effects appear almost immediately and disappear within a few minutes to an hour. How long the effects last and how intense they are depend on the method of use. Injecting or smoking cocaine produces a quicker and stronger but shorter-lasting high than snorting. The high from snorting cocaine may last 15 to 30 minutes. The high from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes.

What are the other health effects of cocaine use?

Other health effects of cocaine use include:

  • constricted blood vessels
  • dilated pupils
  • nausea
  • raised body temperature and blood pressure
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • tremors and muscle twitches
  • restlessness

Long-Term Effects

Some long-term health effects of cocaine depend on the method of use and include the following:

  • snorting: loss of smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and problems with swallowing
  • smoking: cough, asthma, respiratory distress, and higher risk of infections pneumonia
  • consuming by mouth: severe bowel decay from reduced blood flow
  • needle injection: higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases, skin or soft tissue infections, as well as scarring or collapsed veins

However, even people involved with non-needle cocaine use place themselves at a risk for HIV because cocaine impairs judgment, which can lead to risky sexual behavior with infected partners (see «Cocaine, HIV, and Hepatitis» textbox).

Studies have shown that cocaine use speeds up HIV infection. According to research, cocaine impairs immune cell function and promotes reproduction of the HIV virus.

Research also suggests that people who use cocaine and are infected with HIV may be more susceptible to contracting other viruses, such as hepatitis C, a virus that affects the liver.

Read more about the connection between cocaine and these diseases in NIDA's Cocaine Research Report.

Other long-term effects of cocaine use include being malnourished, because cocaine decreases appetite, and movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, which may occur after many years of use.

In addition, people report irritability and restlessness from cocaine binges, and some also experience severe paranoia, in which they lose touch with reality and have auditory hallucinations—hearing noises that aren't real.

Can a person overdose on cocaine?

Yes, a person can overdose on cocaine. An overdose occurs when a person uses enough of a drug to produce serious adverse effects, life-threatening symptoms, or death. An overdose can be intentional or unintentional.

Death from overdose can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. Many people who use cocaine also drink alcohol at the same time, which is particularly risky and can lead to overdose. Others mix cocaine with heroin, another dangerous—and deadly—combination.

Some of the most frequent and severe health consequences of overdose are irregular heart rhythm, heart attacks, seizures, and strokes. Other symptoms of cocaine overdose include difficulty breathing, high blood pressure, high body temperature, hallucinations, and extreme agitation or anxiety.

How can a cocaine overdose be treated?

There is no specific medication that can reverse a cocaine overdose. Management involves supportive care and depends on the symptoms present. For instance, because cocaine overdose often leads to a heart attack, stroke, or seizure, first responders and emergency room doctors try to treat the overdose by treating these conditions, with the intent of:

  • restoring blood flow to the heart (heart attack)
  • restoring oxygen-rich blood supply to the affected part of the brain (stroke)
  • stopping the seizure

How does cocaine use lead to addiction?

As with other drugs, repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction.

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.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • depression
  • fatigue
  • increased appetite
  • unpleasant dreams and insomnia
  • slowed thinking

How can people get treatment for cocaine addiction?

Behavioral therapy may be used to treat cocaine addiction. Examples include:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • contingency management or motivational incentives—providing rewards to patients who remain substance free
  • therapeutic communities—drug-free residences in which people in recovery from substance use disorders help each other to understand and change their behaviors
  • community based recovery groups, such as 12-step programs

While there are no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of cocaine use disorder, NIDA supports a robust medication development pipeline in this area.

  • Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America.
  • Street dealers often mix it with things cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour to increase profits.
  • They may also mix it with other drugs such as the stimulant amphetamine or the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
  • People snort cocaine powder through the nose or rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder and inject it into the bloodstream, or inject a combination of cocaine and heroin, called a Speedball. Another popular method of use is to smoke Crack cocaine.
  • Cocaine increases levels of the natural chemical messenger dopamine in brain circuits related to the control of movement and reward.
  • A person can overdose on cocaine, which can lead to death.
  • Behavioral therapy may be used to treat cocaine addiction.
  • While there are no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of cocaine use disorder, NIDA supports a robust medication development pipeline in this area.

Learn More

For more information about cocaine, visit our:

For more information about drug use and HIV/AIDS, visit our webpage, Drug Use and Viral Infections (HIV, Hepatitis).

This publication is available for your use and may be reproduced in its entirety without permission from NIDA. Citation of the source is appreciated, using the following language: Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Источник: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine

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