Cocaine is a white powder, made from the dried leaves of the coca plant which grows in South America. It is a powerful stimulant drug, and an illegal substance classified as Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act, because of its high potential for abuse.
Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, particularly the pleasure centers and reward pathways in the brain. Cocaine triggers dopamine production, resulting in a high. Users either ingest it nasally or dilute it in water and inject it intravenously. Cocaine is powerful, addictive, and dangerous.
Recognizing the Signs of Cocaine Addiction
The signs of regular cocaine use can be both physical and behavioral. Your mind and emotions may also suffer. If you show any of these symptoms, it could be a sign that you need to seek help and advice. Common signs include:
- Escalation of substance use to include other drugs
- Tolerance causing you to take more cocaine for the same desired effect
- Having no control over intake
- Memory loss
- Respiratory and cardiovascular problems
- Decreased attention span and slow reaction time
- Acting impulsively
- Obsessive thinking about cocaine
- Engaging in reckless behavior
- Mood swings
- Anger and aggressive attitude
- Anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts
- Hallucinations, paranoia
There are many complications that arise from cocaine abuse. Withdrawal symptoms may be extreme if you are a frequent cocaine user and go without for too long. You may have financial trouble from financing your drug habit, and legal problems from buying and using an illegal substance.
Cocaine is highly addictive. You can develop a mental and emotional dependence on the drug, meaning you both physically crave it, and experience withdrawal symptoms when deprived of it. Here are a few reasons why cocaine is so addictive and dependency may become apparent.
- It can embolden you to do things you normally wouldn’t. As a result, you may feel the drug is enhancing your quality of life, and giving you more confidence and energy.
- Cocaine affects the brain very quickly but only lasts around an hour, so the desire to compulsively redose can be strong. Regular and repeated use can lead to addiction.
- Cocaine tolerance can increase fast, meaning you need more to achieve a high.
- Cocaine is often cut or mixed with other addictive substances such as fentanyl or methamphetamine.
- It is such a powerful stimulant that it can easily become a crutch you lean on to function better.
Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine use comes with a long list of risks to all aspects of your health. Taking this drug will undoubtedly produce symptoms that will be clear to see. Physical dangers and symptoms include:
- Runny nose, nosebleeds
- Excitability, talkativeness, confidence highs
- Insufficient nutritional intake, weight loss
- Mood swings
- Increased desire for privacy, isolating
- Erratic sleeping patterns
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Loss of interest in things and activities that were once fun
- Drug residue around the nostrils
- High blood pressure
- Excessive perspiration
- Dilated pupils
Cocaine can cause irreversible damage to internal organs and the brain. It is essential to address cocaine abuse as early as possible to tackle the symptoms associated with cocaine addiction.
Diagnosing Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine is a substance with a high potential for addiction. Known in the medical community as Substance Use Disorder (SUD), it is a chronic condition with varying levels of severity.
The level of addiction can be assessed using questions from the DSM-5. If you answer “yes” to two or more, this could indicate a moderate substance use disorder, between four and five could indicate a mild SUD and six or more could indicate a severe SUD. The questions will be similar to the following:
- Are you unable to control the quantity of the cocaine you are consuming?
- Are you unable to cut down on the quantity of cocaine you are taking?
- Do you have intense cravings for cocaine?
- Do you rely on more cocaine for the same desired effect?
- Have you developed withdrawal symptoms in absence of cocaine?
- Do you spend larger amounts of time on and recovering from cocaine?
- Do you neglect responsibilities as a consequence of cocaine abuse?
- Do you continue to use cocaine despite it causing problems in your personal life?
- Have you given up other hobbies or activities to prioritize drug use?
- Have you put yourself in dangerous situations for drug use?
- Do you continue to use cocaine even though you are noticing mental and physical side effects?
This evaluation process will allow medical professionals to help you understand your addiction and support you with ways that you can begin to tackle and overcome your addiction.
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Treating the Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
There is currently no medication to treat cocaine addiction. Treatment usually focuses on behavioral therapies, group therapy, counseling, and support groups.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: this approach helps you develop self-awareness around things or situations that trigger your drug use. It helps you learn new behavior patterns which extend beyond drug use.
- Group therapy: this form of psychotherapy uses a group setting for you to discuss your problems, addiction, or a specific addiction-related topic, under the guidance of a therapist.
- Residential rehab treatment: the above two modalities are commonly used in rehabs, but a rehab center also provides a safe space for one to six months (or more). This helps you build resilience and a solid period of abstinence. It is also a supportive environment for counseling.
Cocaine addiction is a serious condition, which can have disastrous effects on lives. It can steal your future, or estrange you from your family.