Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine abuse is a major national problem affecting millions of Americans.

Cocaine, also known as the “caviar of street drugs,” is mostly made popular by associations with celebrities, fashion models and Wall Street traders. Cocaine is an extract from the coca bush which is primarily found in South America. There are two main forms of cocaine: powdered cocaine can be snorted or injected by dissolving in water. Crack cocaine is made by a chemical process that leaves it in its freebase form with can be smoked.

Smoking or injecting cocaine can produce instant results due to the rapid absorption rate through nasal tissues or in the bloodstream. About 14% of U.S adults have tried cocaine. The typical ages of users are between the ages of 18 and 25.

Cocaine is an artificial way of rewarding our brains with chemicals the produce feelings that associate with food, sex and healthy pleasure. The brain then becomes dependent on cocaine to produce these euphoric feelings which causes the user to become disabled in life without it. Once in the body, whether smoked, injected or snorted, an increasing sense of energy and alertness is formed. Users will have an extremely elevated mood and supremacy. This can be associated with those who desire more time and energy.

However, after the high comes the fall. When dependence has occurred, withdrawal symptoms may occur. These symptoms are but are not limited to: depression and anxiety, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, inability to feel pleasure, aches, pains, chills and tremors. With these symptoms, the brain is desperately looking for a way to regain pleasurable sensations which leads the addict to crave cocaine for an instant “reward”. Users will experience irritability, paranoia, restlessness as well. With each use, the effects of cocaine will not be as intense as the first and will cause the user to desire larger amounts in shorter periods of time in hopes of re-stimulating the high with the initial use. Due to this behavior, fatal overdoses do occur.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimates that in there were 1.9 million cocaine users in 2008. In that year, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), 482,188 users visited the emergency departments for use of Cocaine. It is by far one of the most popular drugs in the market.

Many users struggling with cocaine will go to treatment. However, overcoming addiction is not as simple as walking into a facility and walking out a month or several months later. It takes the support of family and friends who are coordinating with the addict where all parties are desiring the same outcome. There are many steps needed to treat cocaine addiction. The first step is to take the drug away. By doing this, withdrawal symptoms will present themselves.

Cocaine addiction does not typically have the same physical withdrawals as a prescription pain medication addiction however it still needs to be addressed professionally. One of the toughest steps to recovering from cocaine addiction is overturning the learned behavior of why an addict needed to obtain the substance in the first place. The user needs to be able to control their behavior and emotions in vulnerable times later in their lives as well as certain situations that calls for celebration. Situations that cause a state of depression, anxiety or having pressure to use creates the longing to use again. These scenarios may break the addict. The addict needs to learn to avoid going back to using in these vulnerable situations. Learning to confront the problem head on with preparation will greatly improve the outcome of the situation and provide a true and quality recovery to cocaine abuse.

One of the most common scenarios with cocaine users is the flat lining of feeling mental and physical pleasure. The user is incapable of feeling the satisfaction found once before. This leads to an increase of the amount and frequency of each use and their days and nights are revolved around it. Oftentimes, it even becomes an obsession where the abuser is now prioritizing it over relationships with friends, family and the outside world. The user is now not only abusing the drug but the people around them.

Relationship problems are commonly associated with addiction. Many bridges are burned and feelings are hurt. Abandonment often occurs. As result to this, the guilt that lingers with the addict themselves can cause them to become depressed and the cycle of addiction starts taking its toll again. The abuse now becomes not only physical abuse, but mental abuse towards oneself and those around them as well.

Recovery is possible. Identifying the underlying problem sources and being able to realistically overcome them either theoretically or physically is the key factor to stopping the cycle of addiction. There is no magic pill or a pinch to wake a person up from addiction. It takes hard work and dedication along with support. As easy as it was to come by, there is an equal amount of pain and suffering that goes with it. The addict needs to personally experience both to finally recover and understand the extreme consequences of cocaine.