Cocaine Addiction Information
  • RSS
  • Delicious
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Youtube

brainAt this point in our society, it is not a secret that cocaine is harmful. Cocaine is created from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. It is a powerfully addictive stimulant that creates a short-term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness in users. However, there are numerous dangers associated with cocaine.

Cocaine is used in various ways. The powder, a fine, granulated white substance is often snorted or dissolved in water and put into a needle to be injected directly into the bloodstream. Cocaine is also concentrated with substances like baking soda until it forms a rock. This rock, also known as crack cocaine, is most often smoked in a pipe. The highs produced from smoking or injecting hit the body much faster as the drugs reach the brain quicker than other methods. Snorting cocaine can take up to 20 minutes before the person feels the highs. Cocaine highs are very short term, some only lasting five to ten minutes. Because of this, many cocaine users go on a drug binge to keep up the euphoria.

How Cocaine Effects The Brain

Cocaine is a strong neurotransmitter. Upon entry into the body, like many other psychoactive drugs, cocaine stimulates the reward system in the brain and causes an overproduction of dopamine. The body produces dopamine naturally and it is normally released when someone experiences pleasurable situations in life. Certain brain circuits release dopamine, for instance, when someone smells a pretty flower or eats a favorite food. The dopamine is then recycled to the cell that released it before the neuron is shut off. However, cocaine prevents the dopamine to be recycled, thus causing the brain to release more and more. This disrupts normal brain function and causes a block in communication between the brain and the cells. Long-term use of cocaine can cause the brain to have a malfunction in this rewards system, leading to the user being unable to feel pleasure from things. This causes the user to go back to the one thing that gave them pleasure, cocaine. This is the beginning cycle of addiction.

Cocaine affects the body as well as the brain. The stimulant causes an increase in blood pressure, body temperature heart rate, and constricts blood vessels. Cocaine tends to decrease the user’s appetite, which leads to malnourishment. Because cocaine use impairs judgment, addiction creating a lifestyle where the user spends their days looking for more of the drug, users tend to have a higher chance of contracting other diseases. Sharing needles and having unprotected sex can lead to contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. The various methods of ingesting cocaine can lead to difference bodily harm as well. For instance, those who snort are more likely to lose their sense of smell as those who inhale are more likely to cause extended lung damage. Long-term usage can cause psychosis and paranoia and the effects can be even more dangerous when the drug is combined with others like alcohol or prescription medication.

New research has indicated that cocaine users are more likely to keep using cocaine to avoid the lows. Because the effects of cocaine are so short term, users find themselves feeling the lows they were trying to avoid much sooner than they hoped. This causes them to continue to use, and use more amounts, just to keep up the highs. But their motivation is not the high. Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine cause the user to feel worse than before they took the drug. Users are known to keep using cocaine to relieve themselves from feeling the negative effects of the drug rather than to maintain the positive effects.

Reference:

National Institute on Drug Abuse – http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine