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Cocaine one of the most abused drugs in the world because it creates such an intense high in users and because it is so powerfully addictive. Individuals who take the drug won't be able to predict how it will affect them and the extent to which they will want to continue its use, and many get pulled into cocaine addiction after just one use. This is why even recreational use of cocaine is so risky, because one never knows exactly what kind of hold the drug will take on any given user. Over one million Americans are caught up in cocaine addiction, and 1 in 7 individuals in the U.S. ages 12 and older who are dependent to drugs are dependent to cocaine.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant, and it is "short-acting" meaning individuals experience an extremely intense high from the drug but this high only lasts a short amount of time, a matter of minutes in some cases. So users who are dependent to the drug and become addicted have to continuously seek out and use the drug to continue experiencing its effects. Cocaine use is therefore associated with seriously risky behaviors and severe consequences due to the activities that individuals will partake in to obtain and use the drug and side effects of its use.

And there is a secondary problem associated with repeated cocaine use, which is the tolerance the users quickly develop. As the individuals adapts to a certain dosage of cocaine that would normally given them a moderate or significant high, they will need to use even more of the drug more often to experience this same high. This pretty much happens with any drug not only cocaine, including prescription drugs. Tolerance develops because the areas of the brain affected by cocaine become less sensitive to the drug and so the individual will either have to use more of the drug more often or possibly begin going through cocaine withdrawal. At the very least tolerance which is not responded to with higher doses of cocaine will result in a less significant high as before. In fact, almost every cocaine user will tell you they are constantly trying to chase that first high they got when first experimenting with the drug. So it is always a losing battle and a viscous cycle with no end in sight for those who don't seek help.

Cocaine Side Effects

In fact, some individuals who are addicted to cocaine will plan on using it constantly over a two or three day period and stock up on enough of the drug to do so. Cocaine users who want to go on a binge for days on end will take dose after dose of cocaine in increasingly higher doses to achieve the high they are seeking. This is a very dangerous circumstance they are putting themselves in, a circumstance which can lead to life threatening side effects and other serious effects including paranoia or even full-blown psychosis where they may even experience hallucinations. Individuals who have gone on binges such as this have been known to have high anxiety levels and have even been known to become extremely violent. So there is nothing good that could possible come out of this type of drug using behavior.

Cocaine abuse in general, even when taken moderately or from time to time as with recreational use can very easily result in serious medical consequences. It affects several systems in the body including the heart, central nervous system, etc., so users put themselves at risk of having a stroke, heart attack, seizures, and even come and death in some cases. There is no telling which dose for each individual user will result in such a serious consequence, so individuals who abuse cocaine are literally playing Russian roulette with their lives. For some users, sudden death can occur even after just one use or at any point after. Most individuals who die due to cocaine use have a heart attack or seizure and simply stop breathing. As with most other drugs including prescription drugs, cocaine is particularly dangerous when mixed with alcohol. The combination of cocaine and alcohol is the most common combo which results in drug related deaths. The statistics show how dangerous and deadly cocaine use can be, with cocaine being the most prominent drug among the nearly 5 million drug-related emergency room visits each year.

There are also different risks associated with the various ways individuals administer cocaine. For example, individuals who snort the drug may experience nosebleeds or even develop actual holes in their nasal septum. Individuals who inject the drug are of course at risk of many infectious diseases because drug users often share needles which could possibly be infected with HIV or various forms of Hepatitis. Using needles to administer any drugs also may result in collapsed veins and injection site infections and other serious complications. No method of administration is safe, and this is just one of the many ways cocaine users put themselves at risk.

So what happens when someone stops taking cocaine, either because they want to stop or run out? Because of the severe dependence that develops so quickly, cocaine users begin to detox almost immediately and experience withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine withdrawal doesn't often result in typical physical withdrawal one would experience with alcohol or heroin for example, and individuals going through cocaine withdrawal will have more of a psychological withdrawal process to overcome. The cravings will be significantly more intense than most other drugs, and depression is a very common and often severe symptom of cocaine withdrawal. Because of this, there is an extreme risk of suicide for someone who is experiencing severe cocaine withdrawal.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine is not an innocent recreational drug of abuse, it is a seriously dangerous substance associated with extremely high rates of addiction and dependence. Individuals who want to stop using cocaine will most often need a significant amount of care and support to come off the drug without relapse. It is recommended that cocaine users who want help get this help at a long-term inpatient or residential drug rehab facility which treats cocaine addiction.

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