What Is Cocaine?
What's In This Article?
An illegal substance, cocaine is a strong stimulant that is popular for recreational use. A powder made from the coco plant that is native to South America, some users snort it while others dissolve the powder then inject it. It can be inhaled as smoke as well.
It has mental and physical effects on the user. After using cocaine, the individual might have intense feelings of agitation or happiness as well as a loss of contact with reality. The drug is addictive because of its impact on the brain’s reward pathway.
There is very high risk for dependence after just a short period of use. Using cocaine increases the risk of lung problems, sudden cardiac death, heart attack, and stroke.
Usually, cocaine that is sold on the streets is missed with anesthetics, which can cause more toxicity. After using the drug repeatedly, the individual might see a decrease in the ability to feel pleasure and become tired physically.
Some other names that are used to refer to cocaine include:
How Does Cocaine Work?
When cocaine is used, it sends dopamine, which is a natural chemical that serves as a messenger in your body, into the areas of the brain that control pleasure. The high that results are intense feelings or alertness and energy. There are several short-term effects of cocaine usage. Here are some symptoms of cocaine use:
- Decreased appetite
- Anger or irritability
- Extreme sensitivity to senses
- Feelings of paranoia
- Happiness that is intense
Frequent users of cocaine might have more serious health issues and much more tell-tale side effects. Those issues might include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bowel decay
- Loss of smell
- Runny nose and nosebleeds
- Sexual difficulty
- Lung damage
- Hepatitis or HIV
- Heart disease or heart attack
- Mood swings and mood problems
Using cocaine might cause an individual to crave it as well as the high that it gives. The more you use the drug, the more your brain will adapt to it. This means you will have to increase how much you use to get the same high, which can lead to overdose and addiction.
Your brain’s chemistry can change for the long-term if you take more frequent, stronger doses of cocaine. Both your body and mind will begin to rely on the drug, and it will make it much more difficult for you to sleep, think, and remember things.
You can have a slower reaction time and you are at much greater risk for lung, heart, and stomach problems.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction requires intensive treatment. Counseling and therapy are the most common ways to address the drug use. Often, the user must stay in a drug rehabilitation center. With the help of a trained therapist, you can make the necessary changes to your thought and behavior processes.
With the help of a medical detox center, your body will adjust to treatment, but most health insurance carriers will not cover hospitalization at such facilities for the symptoms of withdrawal. There are no medications approved to treat addiction to cocaine.
Giving up the drug right away is the most important part of an effective treatment plan. There are several different symptoms of withdrawal a recovering addict might suffer:
- Increased hunger
- Drug cravings
- Nerve pain
- Muscle aches
- Difficulty concentrating
While there are no drugs approved to treat cocaine addiction, as previously mentioned, there are some drugs that are sometimes used to treat other disorders that are being tested to treat this addiction:
- Lorcaserin, which treats obesity
- Modanifil, which treats narcolepsy
- Buprenorphine, which treats opioid addiction
- Disulfiram, which treats alcoholism
Researchers are hoping to find a drug that can be used to help individuals overcome their addiction to cocaine.
A Cocaine Overdose
It is difficult to treat an overdose of cocaine. Some of the physical signs of an overdose include:
- Chest pain
- Vomiting and nausea
- Increased body temperature or increased sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Tremors, seizures, and confusion
There are several mental signs of an overdose of cocaine:
Overdosing on cocaine frequently causes a stroke or a heart attack. The emergency room physician will check for a heart attack or stroke first and those problems will be given priority. Medication might be used to treat the complications caused by the overdose. The risk of an overdose is much higher when the dealers have mixed cocaine with other drugs, such as fentanyl or amphetamine. Cocaine mixed with those drugs is much more lethal and leads to many more deaths.