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Article Summary

An Overview Of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is one of the most common types of drug-related problems on a global scale. When it comes to illegal drugs, cocaine usually tops the list - especially in the United States. The Federal Government classifies cocaine as a high dependency and high abuse risk stimulant.

Cocaine is highly addictive, because of its immediate effect on the brain, which leads users to experience an almost instantaneous sense of euphoria than can last anywhere from ten to twenty minutes - depending on the level of personal tolerance of each individual. After that, most addicts experience headaches and they start feeling anxious and even depressed. This very limited sensation of feeling "high" is the primary cause of cocaine addiction, because users immediately start looking for another "hit" that will make them feel good again.

Routes Of Administration

Most commonly, cocaine addicts inhale the powdered form of cocaine. "Snorting" is the term used by addicts and dealers when they refer to the act of inhaling cocaine. Aside from that, high-purity cocaine powder is also easily soluble in water. This cocaine-solution can then be injected directly into an user's vein.

Another popular type of cocaine is known as "crack cocaine", mainly because of its appearance that resembles a yellowish rock. "Crack" is smoked using a pipe and it is considered the most dangerous form of cocaine, due to its purity and high risk of addiction.

Signs And Symptoms Of Cocaine Addiction

Individuals who "snort" cocaine usually experience a gradual loss of the sense of smell, along with increasingly frequent nosebleeds. In addition to that, most cocaine addicts have difficulties swallowing and their voices become hoarse. All these signs of addiction are more visible in crack users.

Another aspect that deserves special consideration is the fact that cocaine is a more psychological narcotic than a physical one, which means that problems with cocaine addiction arise especially in the mind of the addict. Cocaine produces behavioral changes, which become more obvious as the amount and frequency of drug use increases.

Typically, anxiety is the first sign of a cocaine problem, followed by irritability and restlessness. In case the addict does not have the possibility to take the usual dose, severe panic attacks are most likely to occur within a very short time after the first signs of anxiety. The onset of depression, accompanied by chronic headaches and agitation are further symptoms of cocaine addiction. Because of this, cocaine addicts are at great risk of developing yet another addiction - this time they will turn to antidepressants or alcohol.

Effects Of Cocaine Addiction

Those who abuse cocaine regularly are commonly afflicted by a psychiatric condition that is medically referred to as severe paranoia. In this state of extreme paranoid psychosis, cocaine addicts lose touch with reality and most of them experience acoustic hallucinations. Only a small number of addicts also experience visual hallucinations.

Direct cocaine powder ingestion causes severe ulcers in the lining of the stomach. If the user does not stop ingesting cocaine, he or she is at extreme risk of developing a digestive tract gangrene, which can lead to a sudden, but painful death. Internal gangrenes occur as a consequence of reduced blood flow in the tissues that are directly exposed to a mix of cocaine powder and saliva.

Furthermore, people who abuse cocaine are also at high risk of strokes and heart attacks, regardless of the frequency and manner of drug use. A cocaine-caused seizure or heart attack is followed by an immediate respiratory arrest, which can lead to death in matter of minutes if the individual does not receive medical attention. Even so, the chances of a successful resuscitation are scarce.

Effects Of Cocaine Abuse On The Brain

As it has been stated before, cocaine, like many other narcotics, causes feelings and sensations of intense pleasure, which are caused by an artificially increased secretion of dopamine and serotonin (the so-called happiness hormones) in the brain. Cocaine is a powerful nervous stimulant that acts as a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor.

By preventing the brain cells from reabsorbing the serotonin and dopamine back, cocaine delivers that particular sensation of intense pleasure and happiness. However, the body reacts by developing a tolerance to the high levels or serotonin and dopamine. This causes the addict to progressively consume larger amounts of the drug in order to achieve the desired sensation of euphoria.

All these alterations to the normal functions of the brain lead to behavioral changes and aggressiveness. Cocaine addicts are unpredictable and they can become dangerous, especially because their increased tolerance to the drug results in feelings of frustration when they try to get "high" with lower doses.

It is a known fact that cocaine is one of the most expensive narcotics on the black market and as a consequence many addicts reach a point where they try to consume less. Nonetheless, the expected effects are not the same and that is exactly when these personality changes appear.

Treatment For Cocaine Addiction

Due to the fact that cocaine is significantly psychologically addicting, severe cocaine cravings and compulsions occur. Therefore, the most effective way to overcome a cocaine problem is to enter an inpatient cocaine rehabilitation center. Withdrawal from cocaine does not cause serious physical problems. This is why addicts mainly need specialized psychological and/or behavioral counseling.

To sum it all up, cocaine is one of the most frequently used drugs across the globe. It is also one of the most highly addictive narcotics, due to its immediate effects on the brain. Cocaine addiction can cause a series of serious health problems and in extreme cases it can lead to death. However help and recovery from cocaine addiction can be obtained by receiving treatment at an effective drug rehabilitation facility.

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