Cocaine is a powerful drug with the potential to ensnare individuals for years, if not a lifetime. As a Schedule II drug, it is currently used by approximately 1.9 million Americans aged 18 and older. This white powdery substance can be consumed in various ways, including being processed into crack. Cocaine propels the body into high gear, and even a small amount can be perilous. Recognizing the importance of seeking help is crucial for those entangled in cocaine use. Understanding how cocaine operates and its long-term impact on the body and mind is essential for comprehending addiction and the journey to recovery.
Cocaine’s addictive nature stems from its ability to surge dopamine levels throughout the body upon ingestion. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger, transmits pleasure-related information to the brain, resulting in heightened sensations of pleasure. An excess of dopamine induces a feeling of intense alertness and energy, creating a sense of euphoria. As the body adapts to cocaine, users often seek more of the substance to replicate the initial euphoria. Over time, tolerance builds up, necessitating increased amounts of cocaine to achieve the same effect and elevating the risk of overdose.
Cocaine exerts various effects on the body, intensifying with increased usage. Both short-term and long-term effects take a toll on the entire body.
Short-term effects include:
Long-term effects can include:
Cocaine, with its short half-life of 5-30 minutes, induces a brief yet powerful high. Users often engage in erratic decision-making and frantic behavior to avoid the inevitable crash that follows the high. Signs of cocaine use may include white powder around the nose (if snorted), needle marks (if injected), burn marks on the lips and hands, mood disruptions, sleep loss, social isolation, neglect of physical appearance, and frequent nosebleeds.
Cocaine’s high potency makes it highly addictive, earning it a classification as a Schedule II drug by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Users experience a diminished sense of well-being when not using the drug, leading to the formation of addiction. Regular use builds tolerance, further fueling the craving for cocaine. Addiction can result in neglect of responsibilities, strained relationships, and self-isolation. Withdrawal symptoms, including fatigue, depression, irritability, and an increased appetite for cocaine, can manifest when users are not under the influence. In 2013, the National Survey for Drug Use and Health reported that about 1.5 million Americans considered themselves current cocaine users, with 855,000 deemed to have a substance use disorder related to cocaine by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Cocaine is sometimes combined with other substances, leading to poly-drug abuse and causing severe physical and emotional side effects. Mixing cocaine with heroin, known as a “speedball,” can have mixed effects on the central nervous system. While heroin counteracts cocaine’s anxiety-inducing effects, it can cause sleep loss, blurred vision, and impaired motor functions. Combining cocaine with other drugs or alcohol elevates the risk of overdose, leading to seizures, tremors, vomiting, and potential stroke or heart attack.
Overcoming cocaine addiction is challenging, with detoxification being mentally and physically demanding. Under the supervision of trained professionals, successful treatment is possible. New Day Recovery, located in Louisiana, provides comprehensive and individualized treatment plans. Employing a 12-step program derived from evidence-based clinical findings, the facility offers a supportive environment for introspection and addressing the root causes of addiction. The experienced staff, including master’s-level clinicians, 12-step program facilitators, case managers, and administrative support, collaborates to meet each client’s unique needs. Inpatient treatment incorporates cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients understand their addiction and develop tools for changing negative thought patterns. While overcoming cocaine addiction requires time and effort, seeking help is the crucial first step. Contact New Day Recovery today for support on your journey to sobriety.