What is Cocaine Addiction?

Are you or a loved one addicted to cocaine? Maybe you’ve been putting off admitting you have a cocaine problem, thinking that you can quit anytime, but if you are unable to quit using cocaine for good or if you suffered a cocaine overdose and are still using, chances are you’re addicted.

Cocaine addiction can happen to anyone who has tried the drug. Whether it’s crack cocaine or whether it’s in powder form, cocaine is a highly addictive drug with many dangerous side effects. That’s why it’s important for cocaine users to seek help in ending their cocaine addiction.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant derived from the coca plant’s leaves. The coca plant is a native plant to South America. Cocaine is extremely addictive, especially in its form as crack cocaine, which is smoked. Other methods of using cocaine are addictive as well. Cocaine can be snorted and rubbed on the gums, it can be diluted with water and injected, it can be mixed with heroin and injected (called speedball), and it can be smoked. Smoking and injecting cocaine causes a shorter, more intense high than snorting it, but snorting it causes the high to last longer. Cocaine has many different street names including crack, blow, powder, coke, and snow. Drug dealers often mix it or “cut” it with inert materials such as flour, talcum powder, and cornstarch, or may add other drugs to the mix such as amphetamines and procaine.

How Cocaine Works on the Brain

The brain produces a neurotransmitter called dopamine which causes a person to feel good when they experience something pleasant. Dopamine is reabsorbed (re-uptake) in the brain cells after a short time. Cocaine interferes with the reabsorption process, allowing dopamine to stay transmitting between the nerve cells longer. This gives the high that cocaine produces. In the short term, cocaine can produce the following effects:

  • Extreme amounts of energy
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Nausea
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increase in body temperature and feeling hot
  • Tremors
  • Muscle twitches
  • Extreme happiness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hypersensitivity to sounds, visual cues, or being touched
  • Restlessness
  • Mental alertness
  • Irritability and anger
  • Paranoia

Unfortunately, one of the potential symptoms of taking cocaine is death, especially if it is the person’s first time using it or starting to use it again after quitting for some time.

Long-Term Cocaine Effects

Cocaine has many long-term effects as well as short-term effects. Some of cocaine’s long-term effects depend on how the drug user uses the substance. Long-term effects include:

  • Nosebleeds (snorting)
  • Running nose (snorting)
  • Difficulty swallowing (snorting)
  • Loss of the sense of smell (snorting)
  • HIV (injection)
  • Hepatitis (injection)
  • Lung damage (smoking)
  • Severe bowel decay, ulcers, and tears in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Allergic reactions (due to allergy to the drug or the additives it is cut with)
  • Asthma (smoking)
  • Death
  • Weight loss
  • Malnourishment
  • Need for higher and higher dosages of cocaine to get high because of tolerance built up
  • inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Aorta ruptures

Clearly, these are serious side effects of cocaine and can be part of the cocaine overdose effects.

Can You Overdose on Cocaine?

Yes, people can and do overdose on cocaine. It can come when first using cocaine or afterward, quite unexpectedly.  Symptoms of cocaine overdose effects include:

  • Being “out of it” or being unaware of surroundings
  • Urinating on oneself/lack of bladder control
  • Seizures
  • High fever
  • Sweating severely
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hyperventilating or fast breathing
  • Bluish color to the skin from lack of oxygen
  • Death
  • Heart problems.

Effects of cocaine on heart include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Racing pulse
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Persons who are experiencing heart problems may have pain in the chest and arms, difficulty breathing, sweat profusely, may have one limb become swollen or feel heavy, or may become unconscious. If someone who has taken cocaine and show these signs of a cocaine overdose, you should call 911 immediately and seek immediate medical attention. This is a life-threatening emergency.

How to Get Off the Cocaine Rollercoaster

When one is addicted to drugs like cocaine, the highs feel awesome but the lows are horrible.  At some point, the addict says “Enough” and wants to get off the high and low roller coaster.  They know they are harming their body, but can’t end the cycle of addiction by themselves.  That’s okay.  At Elevate Addiction Services, we know what you’re going through as a cocaine addict.  We understand that it’s hard to kick the habit and that relapse can happen even to those who have the strongest wills.  We offer treatment that begins with detox and continues with inpatient therapy that is customized to your needs.  You don’t have to quit on your own.  We’re here to be with you when you’re ready to quit.