Cocaine is known to be one of the most harmful illicit drugs in our country. According to a 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
- 35.3 million Americans aged 12 and older reported having used cocaine
- 8.5 million reported having used crack cocaine
- There were an estimated 977,000 new users of cocaine in 2006 alone
- and most were 18 or older when they first used cocaine
Abusing cocaine can quickly lead to addiction and harmful effects on the user’s life.
Addicted to Cocaine
Cocaine, which is derived from the coca plant, is typically snorted, injected, or smoked. Cocaine causes an increase in mental alertness and energy, but the high that is felt is short-lived. After 10 minutes, the user may start to feel a letdown and will seek out more cocaine in order to maintain their high.
The feeling of euphoria that cocaine provides is caused by increased levels of dopamine in the brain. The user gets used to the increased levels and wants to continue feeling the euphoria, which quickly leads to addiction. People who are addicted to cocaine can easily overdose on the drug because of their desperation to maintain the high.
Effects of Cocaine Addiction
Someone who uses cocaine will often suffer from headaches, skin sores, nausea, and increased heart rate. Cocaine use puts the individual at risk for heart attack, stroke, seizure, and respiratory arrest. Cocaine addicts find that they lose weight, are irritable without their drug, and may suffer from anxiety, hallucinations, and paranoia.
Cocaine also affects the part of the brain that makes decisions and determines preferences. Researchers have found that when an individual uses cocaine, this area of the brain is damaged, which leads the person to make poor decisions and to neglect things that were once important to them.
Cocaine addiction is hard to overcome, but it is possible to live a sober life after cocaine addiction. Detoxing from this drug is not as difficult or dangerous as with other drugs, but the mental addiction to cocaine is what keeps people going back for more. With behavioral therapy and counseling, it is possible to learn how to manage triggers and cravings, and to break free from cocaine addiction.