If drug users only knew what cocaine does to the body, they would almost surely quit using the drug immediately. In a perfect world, that would be the end of cocaine addiction. However, the real world works much differently, and as some famous celebrities have said, cocaine is a powerful drug.
In the drug trafficking industry, cocaine is the second most trafficked drug, which shows that America has an unquenchable thirst for the drug. In Europe, cocaine is second on the list of most popular drugs.
Recent statistics show that about 36 million individuals have tried cocaine at least once. Statistics also show that a shockingly large number of teens have tried the drug.
A large percentage of individuals who’ve tried cocaine have also tried crack, which is the much more addictive version of the drug. In the United States, most drug-related ER visits involve the use of cocaine.
How Cocaine Affects the Brain and Body
It should be obvious that cocaine is a very addictive drug. Made from leaves of the coca plant, cocaine is classified as a very strong stimulant. It’s not nearly as powerful as methamphetamine, especially in terms of how much dopamine it causes the brain to release, but it’s significantly more powerful than standard amphetamines, such as Adderall.
After using cocaine, most people experience feelings of talkativeness, increased energy and euphoria. Cocaine produces both mental and physical effects. One of the reasons why it’s extremely dangerous is because it increases heart rate, blood pressure and vascular constriction.
Cocaine affects the body’s central nervous system in a major way. It causes the brain to produce large amounts of dopamine, which is responsible for the pleasure experienced during use of the drug. Dopamine is known as a neurotransmitter, and the brain uses it to regulate essential activities.
For example, the brain naturally releases dopamine in response to activities like exercise. In a normal brain, dopamine is quickly recycled back into the cell that produced it.
However, in a brain intoxicated by cocaine, dopamine isn’t quickly recycled, so the overall dopamine levels in the brain remain high for an extended period of time. Put simply, unnaturally large amounts of dopamine accumulate inside neuron junctions, which significantly amplify the dopamine signal.
The flood of dopamine is what hooks many cocaine users. Cocaine addiction is a serious problem because it causes long-term changes in brain chemistry.
These changes make it nearly impossible for a cocaine user to experience pleasure from natural activities. The body and brain become accustomed to receiving large doses of cocaine, so they become dependent on the drug.
The Real Dangers of Cocaine Addiction
While a lot of people think cocaine is a harmless drug, it comes with very real dangers. A recreational cocaine user might experience feelings of competence, self-confidence, increased alertness and euphoria. The effects are much more pronounced when the drug is smoked or injected.
Many college students binge on the drug, and these individuals are likely to experience anxiety, insomnia, twitching and tachycardia. They might also experience persecutory delusions or hallucinations.
Some of the health issues that come with long-term use of cocaine are perforated nasal septum and serious medical complications. This addiction is very dangerous because it exposes the body to large amounts of cocaine over a long period of time.
The drug causes increased body temperature, dilated pupils and constricted blood vessels. It’s also known to cause gastrointestinal complications and headaches. Blood pressure and heart rate are also increased by repeated use.
The two most serious effects of cocaine addiction are heart attack and stroke. These events can cause sudden death. The majority of cocaine-related fatalities are the result of cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart stops.
Since many cocaine users choose to inject the drug, cocaine comes with the risk of developing HIV and similar diseases. Many cocaine users engage in risky sexual behavior because they’re intoxicated by the drug.
The health complications caused by cocaine addiction are dependent on how the drug is ingested. Some people prefer to snort the drug while others prefer to inject it. When a cocaine addiction is combined with alcohol use, the health complications increase greatly.
Getting Professional Help
Many cocaine users are afraid to quit using the drug because they’re terrified of suffering through withdrawal symptoms.
Inpatient drug treatment is one of the most effective types of treatment for cocaine addiction, and it has many benefits to offer. Some major benefits of inpatient treatment are 24-7 support, no access to drugs, better focus on recovery and nutritious meals.