Over 35 million people in the United States admit to using Cocaine in their lifetime, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This deadly drug also ranks second in trafficking of an illegal drug in the world. It leaves trails of destruction from its manufacturing process, all the way through its final use by addicts. Cocaine addiction is one of the biggest problems in the United States today.
Cocaine is derived from a leaf of the coca bush, primarily cultivated in regions of South America. This leaf gets processed and broken down in various ways, ultimately leading to the creation of cocaine. Cocaine’s most popular forms include powder cocaine, often referred to as coke, and a more rock-like form known as crack cocaine. Both types can lead to addiction and deadly consequences.
Impact on the Brain From Cocaine Addiction
Inside your brain lies areas known as reward centers. It’s in these centers where cocaine creates feelings of euphoria and pleasure as it releases neurotransmitter compounds like dopamine. Your brain has billions of neurons that act as a road for signals throughout the brain, and between these neurons are gaps. Typically, the brain releases dopamine between these gaps. It then binds to individual proteins that send off the signals to the brain that causes feelings of pleasure.
In a healthy brain, dopamine eventually leaves the gap. However, cocaine use blocks this compound from leaving the hole. As the dopamine continues to build up, a cocaine user feels that intense rush of pleasure and euphoria that leaves users coming back for more. Unfortunately, the brain becomes increasingly tolerant to the higher levels of dopamine, requiring increasingly larger amounts of the drug to reach the same high. Using more significant amounts of cocaine results in a deepening addiction not only to continue to use cocaine but also to do so in greater quantities.
Impact on the Body From Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine is a stimulant, which means one of the first effects on the body is increased heart rate and blood pressure as the blood vessels in the body constrict. The pupils also dilate, combining with a marked increase in body temperature. While these short-term effects are not typically harmful alone, with regular cocaine abuse, these compounding effects put you at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and seizures. A cocaine overdose can easily cause your heart to stop, resulting in death.
The method in which you use cocaine can also cause irreparable damage to your body. Smoking cocaine irritates the respiratory system and can lead to permanent lung damage. Snorting cocaine can lead to nasal perforation and sinus damage. Injecting can destroy the tissues around the injection site, and increases your risks for diseases that individuals transmit through unclean needles.
Cocaine addiction results in much more than just changes to your physical body, it can also impact your overall emotional state. Those who use cocaine often experience mood disturbances and paranoia, resulting in erratic and sometimes violent mood swings. Cocaine addiction can have social consequences as users drain their finances to support their habit, lose relationships, and enter into legal implications such as arrests or even jail time.
Users react differently to cocaine use, with some developing immediate addictions, while others develop an addiction over time. Regardless of what stage of cocaine addiction you’re in, treatment can help. You may think that you can detox from cocaine on your own, but this can be challenging and dangerous. Inpatient care removes you from access to cocaine and away from triggers that can cause a relapse. Treatment provides an environment where you can safely learn to live with your addiction without using. Inpatient treatment includes learning positive coping mechanisms, understanding the underlying causes of your addiction, and providing support groups.
Since 2001, overdose deaths from cocaine use has increased 29 percent, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Don’t let yourself or someone you love become part of a statistic. Contact a treatment center today and get the help you deserve.