Cocaine Addiction Information
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teensIn the United States as a whole, cocaine has a reputation of being an extremely dangerous illicit drug, but for young people in the Republic of Malta and many other countries overseas, there is little belief that occasional cocaine use presents a high risk to their well-being. According to a recent Eurobarometer survey on young people and drugs, which involved individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, 62% of the overall population surveyed believed that using cocaine once or twice presented a high risk, but only 41% of young people in Malta believed that this was the case.

Common Side Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful and extremely addictive drug, and recent studies have shown that regular cocaine use can actually alter the pathways of the brain to become less sensitive to natural reinforcers, which means higher doses and/or more frequent use of the drug is needed to register the same level of pleasure as before. For those who use cocaine in binges and repeated use at increasingly higher doses ñ adverse effects may include increased irritability, panic attacks, restlessness, paranoia, and even full-blown psychosis, in which the user loses touch with reality and suffers auditory hallucinations. Other common side effects of cocaine use include the following:

Frequent nosebleeds

Loss of sense of smell

Loss of appetite

Significant weight loss

Irritability

Anxiety

Malnourishment

Unfortunately, even infrequent users of cocaine can suffer serious side effects, since cocaine produces its powerful high by acting on the brain, before traveling through the blood to the rest of the body and harming the heart, blood vessels and lungs. In fact, cocaine is responsible for more emergency room visits in the United States than any other drug, potentially resulting in adverse events like heart attack, heart arrhythmias, strokes, lung damage and kidney damage.

Cocaine Addiction and Death

One of the reasons cocaine is so popular in the United States and overseas is that the drug has a near instantaneous effect when it is snorted or injected, due to its action on dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and other neurotransmitters in the brain. People who use cocaine report feeling an increasing sense of alertness and energy, as well as an extremely elevated mood (euphoria), and a feeling of supremacy after taking the drug. Unfortunately, as these effects begin to wear off, many cocaine users begin taking higher doses or using the drug more frequently in search of the powerful high they experienced in the beginning, which can result in a cocaine addiction and more serious side effects like heart attack, stroke, and even death.