Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that goes by the street names such as “coke,” “blow” and “snow.” The drug is derived from leaves of the coca plant largely found in South America. When snorted, injected or smoked, it produces feelings of energy, confidence and intense euphoria.
Since its introduction to the United States in the mid-19th century, cocaine has evolved from its initial use as an anesthetic to a recreational drug. The skyrocketing use of cocaine and its social, physical and psychological consequences prompted the country to introduce anti-cocaine legislation, leading to its eventual prohibition by 1930.
Derived from the coca plant and combined with salts, such as HCL, through acid/base extraction, cocaine is commonly manufactured as a white powder. Before hitting the streets, it is adulterated or cut with baking soda, lactose or anesthetics such as lidocaine or benzocaine to mimic its numbing effects and increase its weight. Depending on the extraction process, the substance can vary from a crumbly, powdery texture to an oily or hard crystal called “crack cocaine.”
Symptoms of cocaine abuse
Cocaine is one of the most commonly abused recreational drug owing to its perceived positive effects on an individual’s mood and energy. This is because cocaine is known to increase the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the human brain. Dopamine is commonly associated with the regulation of the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. However, the drug can also lead to an increased dependence and abuse of the drug.
Some of the common symptoms of cocaine abuse are:
- High levels of enthusiasm
- Common cold
- Involuntary movements
- Problems in concentration
Effects of cocaine abuse
Cocaine is addictive and can cause irreversible mental and physical damage when abused over a long period of time.
Mission Recovery’s cocaine addiction treatment addresses the physical addiction and the underlying factors fueling it. At our cocaine rehab centers, we offer medically and nutritionally assisted detox options as well as individualized treatment programs tailored to each patient’s needs.
Some of the common short-term effects of cocaine abuse are:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
- Constricted blood vessels
- Dilated pupils
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
- Hallucinations, agitation, irritability
- Tactile hallucination that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin
- Intense euphoria
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Intense drug craving
- Panic and psychosis
- Convulsions, seizures and sudden death from high doses
Cocaine abuse can also lead to a number of long-term effects such as:
- Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain
- High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes and death
- Liver, kidney and lung damage
- Destruction of tissues in nose if snorted
- Respiratory failure if smoked
- Infectious diseases and abscesses, such as HIV, if injected
- Malnutrition, weight loss due to repressed appetite
- Severe tooth decay
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Sexual problems, reproductive damage and infertility (for both men and women)
- Disorientation, apathy, confusion and exhaustion
- Irritability and mood disturbances
- Increased frequency of risky behavior
- Delirium or psychosis
- Severe depression
- Tolerance and addiction (even after just a single use)
People who use cocaine can suffer heart attacks or strokes, which may result in sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest followed by suffocation.
Cocaine and the brain
Compared to other drugs, cocaine has the most direct and immediate impact on parts of the brain that regulate mood and pleasure. Because of this, rehab for cocaine must be assiduous.
Cocaine is a strong central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that increases levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in brain circuits regulating pleasure and movement. It prevents the dopamine from being recycled, causing excessive amounts to build-up in the synapses (the junctions between neurons). This amplifies the dopamine signal and ultimately disrupts normal brain communication, causing cocaine’s characteristic high.
Repeated use can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward system as well as other brain systems, which may lead to an addiction. With repeated use, tolerance to cocaine develops.
Getting help for cocaine addiction
Recovery from cocaine addiction is possible. Mission Recovery’s detoxification and cocaine addiction treatment programs have proven remarkably effective in treating individuals’ addicted to cocaine. Our treatment strategies are based on an all-encompassing approach to assess neurobiological, social and medical aspects of the patient’s drug abuse.
Our brain wellness program and cognitive behavioral therapy occupy this treatment niche perfectly. The former pinpoints any cognitive deficits patient may have; the latter corrects negative thoughts patients accept as truth about themselves.
Of equal importance is quality medical care. Mission Recovery’s experts not only treat the physical addiction but also the underlying psychological factors fueling it.
The patient’s road to physical well-being starts with a detoxification treatment. The detox program helps in safely removing toxins from the body and restoring it to functioning homeostasis.