Cocaine Addiction is on the rise in the U.S.

It seems, recently, news focus has reported much on the heroin and opioid prescription painkiller epidemic. However, cocaine has quietly been making a comeback. According to the Department of State, “Colombia’s illegal coca crop has erupted since 2013, and now 90 percent of the cocaine for sale in the United States is of Colombian origin. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported overdose deaths involving cocaine reached record highs in 2015, with trends continuing to grow. The drug cocaine is a powerful stimulant which is extracted chemically from massive quantities of coca leaves. Native to South America coca leaves for thousands of years have been chewed for the same desired effects that one who has a cocaine addiction desires. According to Current Medicinal Chemistry, “Cocaine acts as an SRI by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, resulting in greater concentrations of these three neurotransmitters in the brain”. The result of higher concentrations and its fast acting properties classifies cocaine in the U.S. as a Schedule II drug carrying a high potential for abuse.

How is Cocaine Used?

Common methods of abuse for cocaine addiction:

  1. Smoking also known as freebasing, initiates the drugs desired euphoric effects within 3–5 seconds. When smoking cocaine, the effects are felt quicker than any other method. However, this method of use also carries the shortest duration of effects felt by the drug; the inhalation of cocaine leads to the shortest duration of euphoria felt by its effects; only 5–15 minutes.
  2. Nasal Insufflation – or snorting cocaine is a standard recreational method of ingesting the powerful stimulate. The user doesn’t feel the desired effects of cocaine for about 5 minutes after initial use. When ingesting cocaine through the nasal, the results of cocaine addiction and the euphoria associated with it last the longest; 60 to 90 minutes.
  3. Injecting– this method of use provides those who suffer from cocaine addiction the highest level of the drug in the shortest amount of time. Duration of time the effects of cocaine are felt when injecting about 2 to 5 minutes. Consequently, the euphoria passes quickly resulting in the user inserting a needle multiple times within a 3 to 4 hour period.
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What are the short-term effects of using cocaine?

Some of the short-term negative effects of using cocaine are; nervousness, paranoia, depression, hallucinations, loss of appetite, constricted blood vessels, rapid heart-beat, muscle spasms, and heart attack. Regardless of how long someone has been using cocaine, a user is always at risk of experiencing respiratory failure and death.

What are the long-term effects of cocaine addiction?

Some of the physical long-term effects of cocaine use are; constipation, liver disease, kidney disease, lung damage, nose tissue damage, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and death. Long-term use of cocaine can also lead to mental disorders like depression, anxiety, mood disorders, delirium, and psychosis.

Long-term cocaine use carries with it many mental consequences. A person that has abused cocaine for an extended period of time will severely alter their brain chemistry. One primary consequence of cocaine abuse is increased anxiety and depression. Many cocaine users develop a mental dependence on the drug as well. When they are not able to get cocaine, and all that the addict can think about is the drug.

What are the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction withdrawal?

Someone experiencing cocaine withdrawal does not experience the severe physical symptoms they would withdrawing from other drugs like; alcohol, heroin, or benzodiazepines. Someone who is detoxing from cocaine will not experience naseau, vomiting, or hyperactive nervous system. Consequently, it is much safer to detox from cocaine than it is from the above-mentioned drugs. There are still many severe symptoms associated with cocaine detox. Signs and symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include;

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of pleasure in everyday life
  • Severe Depression
  • Paranoia

How long does cocaine withdrawal last?

Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine addiction depend on the length of time and the severity in which the user participated in cocaine use. Cocaine addiction may include withdrawal symptoms that last a minimum six months to a maximum two years. Committing to addiction treatment center can significantly reduce cocaine withdrawal symptoms.

Can you recover from cocaine addiction?

Recovery from cocaine addiction is possible. In order to successfully recover from any addiction, all three parts of the disease; mind, body, and spirit, must be treated. Many recovered heroin addicts found success with Residential or Intensive Outpatient drug treatment programs that were 12 step immersion.