Cocaine, a strong central nervous system psycho-stimulant that can be snorted, smoked and injected, stimulates the key pleasure centers of the brain and can lead to a state of euphoria. Its long-term use can lead to drug dependence when the user would require an increased amount of the drug to achieve the same euphoric effect.
Its use can cause various side effects, including agitation, reduction of inhibition, hyperactivity, involuntary movement and changes in concentration. Cocaine causes an intense high followed by increased drug cravings, edginess and depression.
Found in both powder and crack rock form, cocaine increases the level of dopamine, a pleasure-creating chemical in the brain. Its continuous and long-term use may alter a person’s brain chemistry, leading to long-term changes in the brain’s reward system.
Known as snow, powder and coca, cocaine increases the availability of neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain that is responsible for generating euphoric effects and regulating movement and reward processing functions. People often combine cocaine with alcohol and other drugs like heroin, marijuana and tranquilizers that can make cocaine abuse fatal.
Cocaine addiction, symptoms and effects
Cocaine addiction can force the users to repeatedly abuse the drug despite adverse mental, physical and social consequences. Cocaine addiction can also lead to severe drug cravings and extreme withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped abruptly. Repeated cocaine use builds tolerance level when the user would need an increased quantity of the drug to achieve the same effect. Drug tolerance leads to dependence and eventually an addiction to the substance.
Abused in a binge-and-crash pattern, the initial doses of cocaine produces the high that lasts for a short while, forcing the user to take more of the drug to maintain its euphoric effects. The binge-and-crash pattern is often responsible for pushing people towards cocaine addiction.
A cocaine overdose can lead to heart failure, seizures, respiratory failure and stroke. Long-term cocaine use is associated with reduced attention, impairment of decision-making abilities and deficit in cognitive performance. Cocaine abuse can lead to severe physical and psychological symptoms. Some of the physical symptoms of cocaine abuse are:
- Dilated pupils
- Abdominal pain
- Reduced appetite
- Heart failure
Some of the psychological symptoms of cocaine abuse include:
- Erratic behavior
- Reckless behavior
- Severe mood swings
Long-term or heavy cocaine use can lead to intense drug cravings, agitation, longer periods of sleep, exhaustion, severe depression, disorientation, malnutrition, respiratory failure, drug tolerance, dependence and addiction.
Sudden discontinuation of cocaine can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that can give rise to suicidal thoughts. Some of the cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body pain
- Concentration problems
- Intense drug cravings
Over time, cocaine abuse can cause changes in the brain chemistry that may result in behavioral abnormalities, including psychotic symptoms, erratic behavior and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some of the most serious side effects of cocaine abuse are increased heart damage, leading to heart attacks and heart diseases. Prolonged abuse of cocaine is also associated with kidney damage.
Treatment for cocaine addiction
The treatment plan for cocaine drug abuse needs to address the mental and psychological problems of the user. Treatment in a cocaine addiction rehab helps individuals attain an initial period of abstinence from the drug and avoid any chance of a relapse. One can seek treatment for cocaine addiction at both an inpatient and an outpatient facility.
Treatment in cocaine drug rehab centers includes a holistic combination of medically supervised detoxification and behavioral therapies. A medically assisted detoxification helps in removing the drugs from the system that assists in further treatment.
Detoxification in a cocaine addiction treatment center is followed by therapy and counseling that can help identify the underlying causes of addiction and maintain sobriety after the treatment.