Cocaine is the world’s most expensive drug per gram, but the personal cost of addiction can’t be measured in dollars and cents. A highly addictive stimulant drug derived from coca leaves, cocaine was responsible for a quarter of all drug-related emergency department visits in 2008. This dangerous drug can lead to serious problems with relationships, finances and the law.
How Cocaine Abuse Leads to Addiction
Cocaine increases the amount of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, which produces a marked feeling of euphoria and mental alertness. A high lasts anywhere from ten minutes if the cocaine is injected to a half hour if it’s snorted.
Some people can use it recreationally without becoming addicted, while others may become addicted to the drug very quickly. Whether or not you develop an addiction to cocaine is determined in part by genetics and in part by environmental factors.
Cocaine acts on the memory and reward centers of the brain, which record a memory of the pleasure the drug produces and develop a strong association between that pleasure and the act of using. For some, this leads to compulsive use despite the negative effects it causes.
How Cocaine Abuse Leads to Dependence
Chronic use leads to changes in the way the brain produces chemicals as it works to compensate for the presence of the drug in the body. This causes a buildup of tolerance, which means that you’ll need increasingly higher doses to get the desired effects.
Over time, this leads to a shift in brain function, and now the brain operates more normally when cocaine is present than when it’s absent. Quitting once a physical dependence has developed will cause withdrawal symptoms to set in as the brain’s way of saying it needs cocaine to function properly.
Health Risks of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine affects the body in a number of ways. It increases body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, and it causes the blood vessels to constrict. Stroke and heart attack are the most serious health risks of cocaine abuse. Mental health risks abound as well. Chronic abuse can lead to irritability and anxiety, and it can cause severe paranoia and hallucinations.
Snorting coke regularly can result in the loss of the sense of smell as well as cause nosebleeds and swallowing problems, and taking it by mouth can lead to bowel gangrene resulting from a reduction in blood flow.
Treating Cocaine Addiction and Dependence
Cocaine becomes the bane of many existences as an addiction develops but the pleasure gained from using coke diminishes considerably. Many who are addicted continue to use it simply to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms can include:
Treatment for an addiction through a high-quality treatment program begins with medical detox, which involves using medications as they’re needed to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox takes care of the physical dependence on cocaine.
Addressing the addiction is far more complex and requires a variety of treatment therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. Therapy helps you delve into the various issues surrounding the addiction, and it helps you learn to identify and replace harmful ways of thinking and behaving. During treatment, you’ll develop skills and strategies for coping with triggers like cravings and stress.
Recovering from an addiction isn’t easy, but most people in recovery agree that it’s far easier than being addicted. A high-quality, research-based treatment program can help you leave your addiction behind once and for all.
Give us a call or come visit our Detox Treatment Center In Los Angles California