Cocaine is a controlled substance that mainstream media have highly glamorized. Often, it is positioned to make statements of dynamic accomplishment, fame, success, money, and thriving business. Such a PR facade serves the illicit drug well, making it seem like prosperous people use cocaine to become more accomplished, invincible, and untouchable. Seemingly, these characters in movies appear more productive and dynamic, without suffering any harm from using the drug. In reality, cocaine is one of the most harmful and destructive drugs with a high risk of dependency. If you or your loved one suffers from cocaine addiction in Orange County, CA, the sooner you seek help, the better. At Just One Recovery, we can offer you just the support you need to free yourself from the shackles of drug abuse.
Contrary to what mainstream media has made you believe, you cannot get away with using cocaine “just once.” Using the drug during a weekend party with your pals may give you a short-lived boost of confidence, euphoria, flair, and energy, coupled with a long-lasting negative impact on your overall health and welfare.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that goes by different street names, including blow, snow, powder, and coke. It is derived from coca plant leaves, and it heightens the effects of dopamine— a brain chemical. When the impact of dopamine increases, cocaine users experience an enhanced sense of power and energy. They also enjoy a pleasurable and euphoric sensation— “cocaine high.”
So, what is wrong with using a substance that makes you happier and more energized?
The downside of using cocaine is that it overstimulates the body and puts a lot of strain on your systems. This may cause various side effects, including:
- Hyper alertness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Heart attack
Why Cocaine Is Addictive?
By targeting dopamine, cocaine mainly affects the brain’s communication pathways. It impacts the normal functions of neurotransmitters to give you a euphoric feeling. This is a kind of high most drugs cannot beat, making cocaine one of the most highly addictive controlled substances.
Cocaine Methods of Use
How cocaine is consumed affects the duration of the high and some of the long-term symptoms a patient may suffer. Let’s have a look at the drug’s three main methods of use.
Cocaine can be consumed by injecting it into the skin. This causes a euphoric feeling that can last between 15 and 30 minutes. Injecting the drug can result in severely constricted blood vessels (vasoconstriction). This health concern hinders the proper flow of blood into tissues, causing severe tissue damage.
Other common risks associated with injecting cocaine into the skin include allergic reactions and blood infections such as sepsis, HIV, and hepatitis. The risk of blood infection tends to increase as the addiction worsens because junkies are known to share drug paraphernalia, including needles.
Moreover, cocaine distributors are out to make money. They often use cutting agents to “cut” (adulterate or abuse) the drug and expand their profit margins. The cutting agent is often a less expensive, possibly toxic substance that can cause collapsed veins, abscesses, or even damage your brain, liver, and heart.
Smoking cocaine can give you a high that lasts between 5 and 10 minutes. The risks allied with this method of use include lung inflammation, bronchitis, breathing difficulties, and chronic cough.
Snorting cocaine slows down the speed of the drug reaching the brain. This method of use also gives a milder euphoria when compared to smoking and injecting cocaine. The high achieved from snorting cocaine lasts between 15 and 30 minutes.
Prolonged use of cocaine can cause septal perforation, also referred to as “coke nose.” This condition is characterized by extensive damage to the nasal septum (nasal lining and structure). The short-term health effects of snorting cocaine include frequent nosebleeds, chronic runny nose, swallowing problems, hoarse voice, and loss of smell.
How Cocaine Works
Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system and impacts how your brain processes dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter allied with regulating movement, pleasure, and various other functions. Once you consume the drug, it alters how the brain reabsorbs (removes) dopamine, prolonging this chemical’s action. Mere seconds after using cocaine, you may feel more energized, euphoric, and dynamic.
The “cocaine high” kicks in almost instantly. The body, however, quickly depletes its dopamine stores, leading to a "crash.” While it is easier to deal with this feeling when abusing the drug, cycles of the “cocaine high and crash” become more and more challenging to manage with prolonged use of the controlled substance. This leads to addiction.
A person goes through two main phases when using cocaine. They include:
As aforementioned, cocaine kicks into the system in mere seconds. It gives you a euphoric feeling that lasts for about half an hour or more, depending on your cocaine dosage and method of taking the drug. Right after using the drug, you may feel:
- Energized and less fatigued or sleepy
- Mentally alert
- Hyper stimulated
- Invincible (inability to comprehend danger signs)
- Confident and more talkative or the opposite, more contemplative
- Increased libido
- Numbed mental or physical pain
Once the high is over and your body has exhausted its dopamine stores, you may feel agitated and depressed. The euphoric rush of using cocaine wears off in a “crash,” and you may experience the following effects:
- Tension and anxiety
- Mood swings
Understanding Cocaine Abuse & Addiction
Cocaine abuse and addiction are two different things. Abuse is when you use the drug for recreational purposes, like when partying during the weekends. What makes abuse and addiction closely related is that most users consume cocaine to enjoy its high and quickly find themselves unable to function without the drug.
Patients who abuse cocaine may not be addicted to the drug but are on their road to addiction. Statistics show that about 25% of users who begin by consuming cocaine recreationally get hooked on it in less than a year. You can tell that addiction has kicked in when a person has to depend on the drug despite negative consequences like legal, physical, mental, and interpersonal problems.
Repeated use of controlled substances leads to addiction, and cocaine is not an exception. What makes this drug highly destructive is that its high kicks in mere seconds, and you feel sluggish and dysfunctional once it begins to wear off. The energy crash may give you the urge to use more of the drug to regain an energized and dynamic feel. Eventually, this cycle of “high and crash” may cause addiction.
The cocaine addiction process is quite complex because it includes both mental and physical components. Here is what you need to know:
The Physical Element of Cocaine Addiction
Addiction begins once the body becomes dependent on cocaine. As your body adjusts to the chemical changes caused by using the drug, it begins needing these changes to function normally. Anytime you attempt skipping the use of cocaine, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, including severe cravings that push you into using the drug once more.
The Mental Elements of Cocaine Addiction
You may suffer a psychological or mental addiction to cocaine when the drug fulfills your psychological needs. For instance, if using makes you feel more confident and energized, you may feel the need to use cocaine right before initiating social interactions. While the high may help you overcome the feeling of inadequacy, it only masks a psychological issue and allows you to feel better about yourself.
Factors Influencing the Risk Potential of Cocaine Addiction
Most users don’t realize when they shift from cocaine abusers into cocaine addicts. There is a myriad of factors that may influence the probability of someone becoming addicted. They include:
- Age of patient during their first use
- Method of consuming cocaine
- Quantity of drug consumed with each dose
- Length of time a patient has been using cocaine
- Personal physiology and Genetics
- The use of other controlled drugs or substances
- Mental health history
- Use of multiple drugs or substances
Generally speaking, younger people who abuse drugs are more likely to develop an addiction later in life. Research shows that about ¾ of addiction patients aged 18—30 begin using before their 17th birthday. About 10% of these patients were already using before the age of 11.
Before adulthood, some parts of the brain, more so those that control impulse, are not fully developed. When drugs are introduced to the brains of younger people, they may cause damage, increasing the risk of developing a drug dependency in the future.
Other risk factors that increase the likelihood of addiction include:
- Family risk factors—parental neglect or parental drug abuse
- Environmental risk factors— unemployment and community crime
- Personal physiology risk factors—learning disabilities or physical frailties
- Minority status risk factors —discrimination
- Behavioral risk factors — delinquency and self-esteem issues
Thanks to the fallacy created by mainstream media, not even artists, the creative type and dynamic businesspersons are safe from cocaine. Contrary to popular belief, cocaine addiction is not just reserved for the minority, delinquent or unemployed. The drug knows no age or background and can ravage the future of anyone, including the accomplishment seeker, the thrill-seeker, and the lover of action.
Effects of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
Once cocaine abuse kicks in, addiction is not too far behind. Both abuse and addiction to cocaine have ripple effects throughout the life of a patient. Some of the physical effects include feeling shaky, poor memory, and insomnia. A patient may also experience other indirect consequences that can harm their social life and careers, depriving them of enjoying the quality of life they deserve.
Cocaine Use Short-Term Effects
Cocaine is a controlled substance that is illegal in just about every part of the world. This is because it is highly addictive and has little or no medicinal value. Merely using the drug once can have negative consequences that impact your health and behavior.
The short-term side effects of using cocaine include:
- Mood changes
- Sleep problems
- Social problems (questionable interpersonal skills)
- Lack of interest in things and activities that were once pleasurable
- Hygiene problems
Cocaine Use Long-Term Effects
Most patients can mask the short-term effects of cocaine abuse. However, prolonged use of the drug causes addiction which tends to have more pronounced effects.
The long term effects of using cocaine include:
- Nasal damage and loss of smell (if you snort cocaine)
- Ling disease (if you smoke cocaine)
- Vasoconstriction (if you inject cocaine)
- Neuromuscular diseases, e.g., Parkinson’s disease
Dependency is merely the first phase of addiction. The second is referred to as tolerance. This is when the body becomes used to cocaine, making it harder to achieve the desired high. Cocaine tolerance forces addicts to use higher dosages more frequently.
A higher dose of cocaine can cause devastating side effects, including:
- Craving for other drugs such as marijuana and heroin (“speedballing”)
- Severe sweating
- Fast breathing
- High blood pressure
Cocaine Addiction Recovery Rates
Cocaine addiction is a severe problem, and numerous studies have been conducted to establish the recovery rates of addicts. Research conducted in 2010 revealed that an average of 75% of cocaine addicts who attempted to quit using the drug on their own experienced 1—3 relapses.
Another study conducted the same year revealed that about 42% of cocaine addicts who sought professional help used the drug at least once within 5 years. About 25% of these patients fell back into using cocaine at least once a week.
All is not gloom because the study shows that patients who committed to the residential treatment for at least 90 days enjoyed a higher chance of recovery and remaining sober. Seeking professional cocaine therapy and treatment improves your odds of maintaining sobriety by a whopping 50%.
Relapses are not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, they are a normal and expected part of the treatment and recovery journey. The most crucial step is to forgive yourself for the relapse and begin cocaine abstinence once more.
Find Just One Recovery Near Me
Freeing yourself from the chains of cocaine addiction is no easy feat. While this is the case, help is available, and sobriety is within your reach. We have the best therapists at Just One Recovery, and we use proven treatment methods that can set you on the path to complete recovery. While we cannot guarantee an easy healing experience, we can promise to give the much-needed support. The assistance from our skilled drug rehabilitation specialists and the testimonials from patients we have treated in the past will make your struggle to reaching sobriety all the more rewarding. If you are struggling with cocaine addiction in Orange County, CA, call us today at 714-538-8085 and begin the journey to regaining control of your life, happiness, relationships, and future.