What to Know About Cocaine Use

Cocaine (Crack) Addiction

What to Know About Cocaine Use

Cocaine and crack are dangerous, addictive drugs that can lead to serious side effects including sudden cardiac death, brain seizures, heart attack and stroke. No drugs are approved to rapidly reverse the cocaine overdose itself or to treat cocaine addiction. Counseling is the mainstay of treatment.

Cocaine (Crack) Addiction

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is made from the leaves of a coca plant and comes in the form of a white powder or a “rock.” Street names for powdered cocaine include snow, nose candy, coke, Big C, flake and blow. People snort cocaine through their nose, rub it into their gums, or dissolve it and inject it with a needle into their veins.

Powdered cocaine can also be smoked via a process called “freebasing.”

Drug dealers mix cocaine with other substances so they can have more of the drug to sell.

These “fillers” make the drug even more dangerous because the user does not know how much cocaine he or she is taking or what fillers may have been used.

Commonly used fillers include cornstarch or flour or other drugs – such as amphetamines or fentanyl – which can add harmful, and even fatal, side effects to an already unsafe drug.

What is crack?

Crack is cocaine that has been processed so that it can be smoked. It also goes by the street name “rock.” Crack looks small pieces or shavings of soap, but has a hard, sharp feel. Crack is usually smoked by heating it in a glass pipe, but it can also be mixed into a marijuana “joint” or a tobacco cigarette.

When a person smokes crack (or powder via freebase) cocaine, the drug reaches the brain more rapidly and in higher peak doses than when it is snorted in powder form. The user feels an intense “rush” followed by a “crash” that can produce a strong craving for more of the drug.

What's so bad about cocaine and crack?

Cocaine and crack are dangerous for many reasons. Cocaine and crack use can lead to serious side effects – some life-threatening – including:

  • Sudden cardiac death.
  • Brain seizures.
  • Irregular heartbeat/increased heart rate.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Heart attack.
  • Depression.
  • Stroke.
  • Violent actions.
  • Loss of ability to perform sexually.
  • Addiction, even after one try.

In a person who is addicted, his or her cocaine use becomes an obsession and strong urge that can cause:

  • Loss of control over his or her life.
  • A willingness to do anything to get more cocaine.
  • Spending a tremendous amount of money on his or her habit.
  • A loss of interest in friends, family, and social activities.
  • A need to take the drug just to feel “normal.»

Cocaine causes an intense flood of chemicals in the brain’s “pleasure” or “reward” pathway—essentially short-circuiting what would normally only be stimulated, or roused, by pleasurable life events. Repeated overloading of this brain circuit by cocaine causes changes in the brain in which nothing seems pleasurable without the drug.

The chemicals released in the brain by cocaine also play a role in maintaining normal feelings of happiness. Reduced levels of these chemicals (as during a cocaine “crash”) can cause intense feelings of depression. The addict will try to avoid these negative feelings by using more of the drug as soon as these symptoms arise.

These actions can ultimately lead to changes in other parts of the brain that result in drug use becoming an obsession and compulsion— an itch that must be scratched no matter what the outcome. This is why addicts will continue to use the drug despite all of the negative consequences. The obsession with the drug is also referred to as a craving.

In the case of cocaine, addicts also report an intense motivation to try to obtain the “high” that they experienced the first time they ever used, but the intensity of that first experience is impossible to ever achieve through repeated use.

What are the signs that someone is becoming addicted or is already addicted to cocaine?

A person who is becoming addicted or is addicted to cocaine will show signs including:

  • Periods of severe depression.
  • Weight loss.
  • Not taking care of personal hygiene or appearance.
  • Constant runny nose.
  • Frequent upper respiratory infections.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Loss of interest in friends, family, and social activities.
  • Loss of interest in food, sex, or other pleasures.
  • Hearing voices that aren’t there, or feeling paranoid.
  • Becoming more angry, impatient, or nervous.
  • Experiencing hallucinations.
  • Unable to explain having large sums of money.
  • Offering sex for money to get drugs.

There are many health side effects of cocaine use. Long-term side effects, how cocaine is used, include:

  • From snorting: nosebleeds, running nose, loss of smell, hole in the nasal septum (the wall dividing the two sides of the nose), hole in the roof of the mouth, swallowing problems.
  • From injecting: increased risk of IV-related viruses, such as hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, from sharing needles; vein collapse or scarring; heart valve, skin and soft tissue infections.
  • From smoking: cough, irregular breathing, asthma, increased risk of lung infections including pneumonia and bronchitis.
  • From absorption through gums in themouth: mouth sores (ulcers) on the gums and the underlying bone, receding gums, chronic gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue), dry mouth, tooth decay.

Other general long-term effects include:

  • Severe weight loss and malnourishment.
  • Movement disorders similar to Parkinson’s disease.
  • Intestinal death and rupture due to constricted blood vessels/lack of oxygen to the intestinal tract.

Recovery often begins with “detox,” the body's physical withdrawal from cocaine. Physical symptoms of withdrawal can begin within a few hours and last up to seven days. The inability to enjoy normal pleasure may take longer to recover.

Withdrawal symptoms include:

As soon at the patient can begin therapy, he or she enters the next phase of addiction treatment. This involves group participation, counseling, and, often, psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

The goal of counseling (also called psychotherapy or “talk therapy”) is to help the addict understand the effects of cocaine use, face the issues that lead to drug use, and learn ways to stay away from cocaine.

Another therapy strategy uses incentives to motivate by providing rewards to people who remain drug free. This therapeutic approach is also called contingency management.

Group participation usually involves the “12-step” process that is common to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. If the addict also suffers from a psychiatric issue, such as depression or bipolar disorder, such issues also need to be treated or else they will probably lead the person to go back to using drugs.

Are any prescription drugs available to treat cocaine addiction?

No medications are currently approved specifically to treat cocaine addiction. Researchers are studying the use of medications approved for other conditions to treat cocaine addiction.

The medications showing the most promise are psychostimulants, modafinil, bupropion, topiramate and disulfiram.

However, due to small study size and inconsistent results, there is no strong support for any individual drug at this time.

A cocaine vaccine is in early testing stage. The hope of this vaccine is to reduce the risk of relapse and the return to cocaine use. The vaccine works by stimulating the production of cocaine-specific antibodies.

These antibodies bind to cocaine, preventing it from crossing the blood-brain barrier and stimulating the pleasure center. So far, studies in humans have shown mixed results. Some patients with high levels of antibodies were better in abstaining from cocaine.

However, other studies showed no difference in ability to abstain between those with higher levels of antibodies versus those who received a placebo vaccine.

Are there treatments to rapidly reverse the effects of an overdose of cocaine?

No drugs are currently available to rapidly reverse the cocaine overdose itself. However, emergency care would treat the life-threatening side effects – the stroke, seizures, and heart attack – that the overdose may have caused.

Yes. Serious side effects, including seizures, stroke, heart attacks and irregular heartbeats, can happen even with a single use of cocaine. If enough cocaine is taken or if the cocaine is combined with heroin, fentanyl, or other stimulants or opioids, someone could have life-threatening side effects or even die.

Most drug users deny that they have a problem, and push family and friends away. You may feel helpless, frustrated, and unable to cope. You can get help by contacting a local drug abuse treatment center. You should also do the following:

  • Establish appropriate limits and rules with your loved one who may be addicted.
  • Don’t change your actions to suit the needs of the user.
  • Don’t cover up for the user when he or she fails to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home.
  • Don’t make excuses for the addict’s drug use.
  • Don’t lend money.
  • Encourage the user to seek help.
  • Get additional information and help from Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/11/2019.


Источник: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/4038-cocaine-crack

How To Tell If Someone Is Using Cocaine

What to Know About Cocaine Use

Cocaine is a fast-acting, addictive stimulant drug. People can become addicted to cocaine after abusing cocaine just one time. This is largely due to the way cocaine acts on the brain, increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, resulting in euphoria and pleasure.

Cocaine affects people in a number of observable ways. There are several tell-tale behaviors of someone on coke, and these signs and symptoms tend to become more recognizable as the amount of cocaine being abused increases.

Observable Signs Of Cocaine Use

Some visible signs of cocaine abuse may include some of the following:

  • white powder around the nose or even mouth
  • significant weight loss without exercise
  • burn marks on lips or fingers
  • financial troubles (significant loss of money)
  • stealing or selling of personal property
  • mood swings
  • decrease in personal hygiene
  • engaging in risky behaviors

These noticeable signs of cocaine addiction, in addition to the numerous ways in which cocaine affects the body and mind of the person using it, are indications that a person may be in need of substance abuse treatment.

Physical Signs Of Cocaine Abuse

When a person ingests cocaine, it can trigger a number of physical changes. These physical symptoms of cocaine use include:

  • dilated pupils
  • runny nose/bloody nose
  • sniffling
  • hoarse throat
  • headaches
  • stomach pain
  • shaking
  • nausea
  • significant weight loss
  • fast heartbeat
  • impotence

If an individual is abusing crack cocaine, they may also have burns on their fingers, hands, lips or mouth areas, in addition to the above physical signs of cocaine abuse.

Cocaine abuse can cause long term side effects as well. Individuals who have struggled with cocaine addiction may have damage to different organ systems, such as reproductive, digestive, cardiovascular, central nervous, and pulmonary systems.

Damage to organ systems from long term cocaine addiction can result in infertility, malnourishment, movement disorders, sexual dysfunction, numerous types of infections, and neurological problems.

Behaviors Of A Person Abusing Cocaine

A person struggling with addiction usually doesn’t act themselves, their behaviors seem “ character”, or strange. Some behavioral or psychological changes of a person abusing cocaine are:

  • mood swings
  • paranoia
  • no appetite
  • anxiety
  • bursts of high energy
  • elevated mood
  • insomnia/hypersomnia
  • hallucinations
  • irritability
  • poor judgment
  • a disorder referred to as cocaine psychosis

Paraphernalia Linked To Cocaine Abuse

The type of paraphernalia linked to cocaine abuse depends on how the person is abusing the cocaine. Cocaine can be snorted, smoked, or injected, and each method has its own tools.

Snorting Cocaine: Snorting cocaine can often leave a powdery residue on flat surfaces, which is why many people use a mirror and razor blade, instead of a credit card and tabletop. Additionally, a cut-off straw or rolled bill is usually used to snort the cocaine. Small baggies or torn off corners of sandwich bags may be discarded by a person abusing cocaine.

Smoking Cocaine or Smoking Crack: Powder cocaine can be converted to crack using ammonia or baking soda. Making crack cocaine with baking soda is a safer and less expensive option. A person who is smoking crack will usually have a metal or glass pipe, steel wool, baking soda, lighters, empty baggies, or spoons laying around.

Injecting Cocaine: Cocaine is liquified and put in a syringe when a person is injecting it. Paraphernalia related to injecting cocaine includes small syringes, spoons, a tourniquet (belt or rubber bands can be used to make veins more visible). A person may keep all these items contained in a kit that is approximately the size of a small paperback book.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person is addicted to cocaine, they may run out and experience uncomfortable side effects, including withdrawal. The euphoric effects of cocaine do not last long, and when they wear off can cause a number of negative symptoms. The immediate reactions to the lack of cocaine are depression, irritability, and mood swings.

Over time, the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine intensify, resulting in:

  • fatigue
  • hunger
  • tremors
  • intense cocaine cravings
  • nightmares
  • sleep disturbances
  • concentration issues
  • delays in thinking

Attempting to withdrawal from cocaine without medical supervision can be dangerous. It is important to always seek assistance from a medical professional or detox center when struggling with substance abuse, including cocaine addiction.

Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine addiction can happen quickly due to the nature of cocaine abuse. The euphoric effects of cocaine are short-lived, and therefore many people binge use cocaine to maintain the ‘high’ they are seeking. This can easily lead to accidental overdose, especially if mixed with other drugs.

Symptoms of a cocaine overdose are made up of some or all of the following:

  • chest pain
  • increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • paranoia
  • confusion
  • delirium
  • hallucinations

If you suspect someone is experiencing a cocaine overdose, seek emergency medical services immediately. Left untreated, cocaine overdose may result in cardiac arrest and be fatal in some cases.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment Options

When struggling with a cocaine addiction, it may be difficult to accept that a substance abuse treatment program may be necessary. Recognizing these symptoms in loved ones may be the first step towards getting them the help they desperately need.

A cocaine detoxification program, supervised by medical professionals, can help ease the discomfort of withdrawal. Continuing on to an inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment program is strongly encouraged, as well as a thorough aftercare plan.

Источник: https://vertavahealth.com/cocaine/is-someone-using/

What You Need To Know About Cocaine and Crack

What to Know About Cocaine Use

People use stimulants for a number of reasons. They can easily become addicted to the euphoria, their inflated self-esteem, and the high-energy levels. They might the version of themselves that is talkative and the life of the party. They might need to stay alert for a job or to study.

One of the most common illegal stimulants is known as cocaine. Cocaine comes in white powder or rock form, and it’s sometimes referred to as coke or snow.

Cocaine accelerates physiological activity, and it’s often mixed with other substances, alcohol or heroin, that can make it even more dangerous.

A common form of processed cocaine is known as crack. Crack looks small, hard pieces of soap, and it’s a popularly abused substance because it reaches the brain very fast.

People can feel the high from crack in as little as ten seconds, but this euphoria only lasts for usually 5-10 minutes.

Also, it takes more of the drug to get the same high over time, and it produces a crash soon after that initiates additional craving. 

Why are crack and cocaine so addictive? Though the drug activates the brain’s pleasure center, making a euphoric high, it’s the low experienced after use that also promotes addiction.

People experience an intense withdrawal after use, and they may find they’re unable to experience pleasure in things they once loved.

Because they can’t find pleasure in other things, users are tempted to abuse cocaine or crack once again.

Signs of Cocaine or Crack Use

  • changes in sleep
  • mood swings
  • dilated pupils
  • increased heart rate
  • paranoia
  • weight loss
  • runny nose
  • poor hygiene

People using crack or cocaine can also lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may also lie about their activities, ask to borrow money, or frequently miss work or school.

Consequences of Cocaine or Crack Use

  • irregular heart beat
  • depression
  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • abdominal pain
  • chronic fatigue
  • sexual problems
  • seizures
  • death

Using drugs can also lead to financial, legal, and relationship problems because of the lengths a person goes to in order to obtain the drug. No part of life will remain untouched by the drug.

Treatment for Cocaine Use Disorder

If you are a loved one are using crack or cocaine, help is available. Detoxification is the first step, and it may require medical intervention to help with the symptoms of withdrawal.

So if you’re planning to quit, please see a doctor immediately, and be honest about any unsafe behavior that accompanied the cocaine or crack use, such as needle sharing, unsafe sex, other drug use, etc.

A person may feel tempted to minimize their addiction and their behaviors, but they get the best help when they give the best information to medical and mental health professionals.

If you have a friend or family member who uses crack or cocaine, try not to enable the drug use. Be honest with them about how the behavior is impacting their life and the lives of others. Above all, never feel that it is your responsibility alone to help them. Encourage your loved one to speak with a doctor or a counselor about treatment recommendations.

Treatment recommendations may include inpatient or outpatient treatment options, depending on the needs of the individual.

To give full-time focus to recovery, a person may benefit from the structure and attention of residential treatment center, which offers 24-hour supervision, individual and group counseling, and medical care.

Outpatient treatment may also offer individual and group therapy, but it allows an individual to return to their daily routine while working towards recovery.

During treatment, mental health professionals may help someone gain insight as to whether their drug use is self-medicating another mental health problem.

Known as a co-occurring disorder, the combination of substance use and mental illness offers unique challenges to the individual.

By treating their substance use as well as symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental illness, a person reduces their risk for relapse in the future.

If you or a loved one wants to stop using cocaine or crack, remember that stopping isn’t simply a matter of will power. Drugs trigger powerful processes in the brain, and releasing their grip takes time, patience, and a team of support. What steps can you take today to move towards recovery and live a happy, healthy, and drug-free life? Who can you recruit to help you on the journey? 

Источник: https://www.psycom.net/cocaine-and-crack

Cocaine DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse

What to Know About Cocaine Use

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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