Cocaine Drug Info – What It Is, Signs and Symptoms of Use, Dangerous Effects
Cocaine – What is It? How Does it Cause Addiction?
Cocaine is a powdery substance, white in color, which is used to stimulate the central nervous system. Like most addictive substances, its job is to increase the production of dopamine, which is a type of neurotransmitter in the brain. Dopamine is associated with regulating movement in the body and processing of cues in order to anticipate rewards. It also generates emotions of euphoria and excitement, which is what addicts actually crave for. Cocaine also helps the individual to experience a huge burst of energy, thereby making them abnormally active and overconfident.
Cocaine goes by names such as powder, blow or coke. It is consumed mostly through snorting the powder directly. Other ways of using it are by injecting water into which cocaine has been dissolved and through smoking or “freebasing”.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports that in 2014, there was approximately 1.5 million users of cocaine in the United States with ages 12 or older.
Warning Signs of Cocaine Addiction
Identifying the symptoms of an addiction is the first step towards understanding the severity of it and ultimately getting rid of it. The symptoms of cocaine addiction can be divided into several categories:
- Increasing anxiety
- Feeling restless
- Irrational panic and fear
- Irritation over trivial matters
- Feeling overconfident or superior.
- Engaging in high risk or reckless activities
- Frequently resorting to violence
- Lack of interest in activities that the individual previously enjoyed
- Talking a lot
- Borrowing or stealing a lot of money
- An unnatural increase in energy levels
- Displaying bizarre or erratic behaviors.
- A lesser requirement for sleep
- Feeling extremely sleepy after using
- Having constant headaches
- Experience twitching of muscles
- Suffering from malnutrition
- Hoarse voice
- Loss of appetite
- Pupils appear dilated
- Experiencing sexual dysfunction
- Having heart rhythms that are abnormal
- The rise in blood pressure and body temperature
- A nose that is constantly runny and frequent bleeding.
- Adverse mood swings
- Frequent hallucinations
- Rationalizing the use of cocaine
- Decrease in motivation to do anything
- Dissociation from reality
- Inability to exercise sound judgment and make decisions.
Dangerous Effects of Cocaine Use
Using cocaine can have adverse negative effects for an individual not only physically but also psychologically. Besides the short-term consequences, cocaine consumption can become extremely dangerous over the long term.
This drug has an effect on the following parts of the body.
The brain’s ability to receive and create neurotransmitters is altered due to prolonged use. This increases the individual’s tolerance for the drug. They become sensitized to the pleasure-inducing chemicals that are naturally produced in the brain. Cocaine can also lead to the constricting of the brain’s blood vessels, thereby causing seizures, strokes and even a sudden death.
Cocaine can cause the blood pressure and heart rate to increase, which when combined with constricted blood vessels might lead to a heart attack. It can also induce a condition called arrhythmia which involves an abnormal heartbeat.
Consuming cocaine, especially through sorting, is dangerous for the lungs. It can lead to a collapse of the respiratory system.
Excess use of cocaine leads to the development of ulcers in the stomach because of the constricted blood vessels. This might cause ruptures in the intestines.
The liver and kidneys are heavily affected by cocaine abuse. These organs have to go through the most stress when they are dealing with this poisonous element in the body. Addicts with high blood pressure are at the risk of experience a sudden kidney failure and can also worsen other conditions of the kidney.
Using cocaine for a long time can lead to the following psychological changes:
An addict might develop anger issues when they are using the drug on a regular basis. Aggressive outbursts are common if the person is unable to get their regular dosage and have to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Cocaine can induce auditory and optical hallucinations in the user. They might even experience intense psychosis. During such a condition the person feels displaced from reality and displays behavior that is impulsive and erratic.
An article published in 2005 studied the link between mental health problems and cocaine in European users and found that a cocaine user might find themselves going through chronic depression. This is because of the effect of the drug on the brain’s reward system. The person becomes sensitized to the natural rewards produced by the brain which is very low compared to the ‘high’ that can be achieved by consuming cocaine.
Sleep, which is an important part of the metabolic process, is affected. The addict might find themselves suffering from insomnia which in turn leads to fatigue. Because of the high levels of energy that are obtained from consuming the drug, the individual loses their ability to maintain a healthy sleep routine.
The extreme depression and intense psychosis might lead to the user becoming suicidal and thereby going through with the suicide.
Those using cocaine become dependent on it very quickly, and it becomes virtually impossible for that individual to stop, thereby hindering their daily activities. They develop a tolerance for it and gradually increase their consumption, and go through massive withdrawal symptoms if it is not available.