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Cocaine Addiction and Abuse

Cocaine is a stimulant that produces effects of euphoria and alertness similar to caffeine. Cocaine is addictive and expensive, garnering its status as the “rich man’s drug.”

Understanding Cocaine

Cocaine Cocaine is a white powdery substance that reacts with the body’s central nervous system, producing energy and euphoria. It is most commonly snorted, but can also be smoked (also known as “freebasing”) or dissolved in water and injected. Cocaine is also referred to as coke, blow or powder.

Although most people today recognize that cocaine is addictive, thousands are still drawn to it. As many as 1,800 Americans experiment with cocaine for the first time each day. Get help for a cocaine addiction now.

Cocaine Effects and Abuse

Any use of cocaine is considered abuse because it is an illegal substance. Cocaine increases levels of happiness-inducing chemicals that are naturally produced by the brain, which is why people feel euphoric when they use it.

Other effects of using cocaine include:

  • Talkativeness
  • Excitement
  • Alertness
  • Anxiety
  • Overconfidence

How people use cocaine also alters the potency and duration of the effects. The effects of snorting it are short-lived, lasting approximately 30 minutes. Smoking or injecting cocaine is more intense but lasts for an even shorter period, about 5 to 10 minutes. Most cocaine users will dose frequently in order to maintain the desired effects. Injecting the drug poses a higher risk of overdose than snorting.

Cocaine abuse is particularly dangerous because continued use can cause strain on the heart. The most common cause of death in frequent cocaine users is stroke or cardiac arrest. If you or someone you know is abusing cocaine, get help now.

Addiction to Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug, but it may be hard to recognize an addiction to it. Craving cocaine and ignoring the consequences that come with it are signs of an addiction.

The psychological addiction is often the hardest part to overcome, although there are undeniable physical symptoms of addiction as well. Someone who uses cocaine frequently will develop a dependence on it, meaning they need to have it in order to feel normal. Once a dependence has developed, a tolerance will develop and withdrawal symptoms will occur when stopping use.

Once someone becomes addicted to cocaine, it can be very hard to stop. This is because cocaine abnormally increases the level of dopamine in the brain, eventually reprogramming the brain reward system.

Although some people are able to quit on their own, many require therapy or rehab.

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Cocaine and Other Drugs

Many people who experiment with cocaine usually do so in environments where other substances are being used. For this reason, many people with a cocaine addiction may also have a dependence on other substances, such as alcohol or marijuana. This is known as poly-drug use and is especially dangerous, as it increases the risk of fatal overdose.

Cocaine and alcohol are frequently used together, to the point where alcohol can be a trigger for recovering cocaine users. For this reason, it is important to abstain from all drugs during recovery. Using heroin and cocaine together (known as a “speedball”) is arguably the most dangerous of all drug combinations that include cocaine.

Cocaine Statistics

More people are admitted to emergency rooms for cocaine-related issues than any other illicit substance. Of those individuals, 68% had more than one drug in their system.

300Kbecame dependent

The number of people with a dependence on cocaine increased by approximately 300,000 people from 2011 to 2012.

600Kfirst time users

In 2012, over 600,000 people tried cocaine for the first time. The average age at first use was 20 years old.

658Kreceived treatment

Approximately 658,000 people received treatment for cocaine addiction in 2012.

Treating a Cocaine Addiction

An addiction to cocaine can be hard to beat. However, help and resources are available for people who are ready to take their life back. Learn more about treatment and recovery for cocaine addiction now.

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Sources & Author Last Edited: April 12, 2016

  1. Frances, R. J., & Miller, S.I. (1998) Clinical Textbook of Addictive Disorders, Second Edition. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). DrugFacts: Cocaine. Retrieved on January 15, 2014, from: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). What are the short-term effects of cocaine use? Retrieved on January 15, 2014, from: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine-abuse-addiction/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). Cocaine. Retrieved on January 15, 2014, from: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine-abuse-addiction
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