Addiction and Abuse
Commonly Abused Drugs
Commonly Abused Drugs
Mental health disorders
An explanation of the effects of cocaine on mental and physical health. cocaine addiction treatment
Typically all the drugs fall into four classes: Depressants, Stimulants, Hallucinogens, and Cannabis. Cocaine is a stimulant drug which is made from coca plant. It is a stimulant drug because it increases the amount of dopamine produced in the brain. Dopamine is the chemical messenger which is related to the control of reward and movement. Although cocaine is used as medicinal purposes as local anesthesia for some surgeries, but the recreational use of cocaine is illegal. It comes in the form of fine white crystal powder or as a solid rock crystal. Commonly used street names of cocaine are crack, rock, coke, white dust, stardust, C, toot, Charlie, nose candy, snow, white lady, and blow.
People consume cocaine in a variety of ways which include, either snorting through nose or by rubbing into gums. It can also be taken intravenously by dissolving the powder, and some even take it by consuming the vapors produced by heating the rock crystals.
It is estimated that about 18.2 million people around the world use cocaine which is around 0.4% of the total population. 25% of the people who use cocaine become addicted to it, and many times people themselves do not realize that they have a problem which is now out of their control.
Usually, dopamine circles back to the neuron which produced it. Thus giving the signal to prevent the neuron from releasing further dopamine. Cocaine use prevents the dopamine from circling back to its original neuron, which in turn keeps on generating dopamine. Enhanced amounts of dopamine produce immense pleasure which reinforces the behavior of taking cocaine. With time, reward system of the brain becomes less sensitive by adapting to the excess of dopamine available in the nervous system. Therefore, people need to take more amount of cocaine to feel the same level of joy and also to get relief from withdrawal symptoms.
Cocaine affects a person in various psychological ways:
· Extreme happiness
· Boosted confidence
· Excessive energy and alertness
· Mental alertness or some may experience numbing of the mind
· Irritability or anger
· Decrease in appetite
· Increased sex drive
· Hypersensitivity to light, touch, and sound
· Indifference to pain
· Unreasonable and often extreme distrust of others also known as paranoia
· If cocaine is taken in large quantities, then it may lead to violent, unpredictable, or bizarre behaviors.
The appearance of effects of cocaine depends on the mode in which it is consumed, but commonly, effects are displayed almost immediately, and they tend to disappear within a few minutes to an hour. Quickest and stronger results are acquired with injecting and smoking while snorting produces effects which last long. People remain high after snorting for 15 to 30 minutes, but high from smoking only lasts for 5 to 10 minutes.
· Dilated pupils
· Dry mouth
· Constricted blood vessels
· Raised blood pressure
· Raised body temperature
· Tremors and muscle twitches
· Fast or irregular heartbeat
Different ways of consumption of cocaine produce different long term effects.
- If cocaine is snorted, then a person can experience nosebleed, frequent runny nose, smell, and problems with swallowing.
- Similarly, smoking cocaine can cause cough, respiratory distress, asthma, and heightened risk of infections such as pneumonia.
- If cocaine is consumed by mouth, then it may cause severe bowel deterioration due to reduction in blood flow.
- And if cocaine is injected via a needle, then it poses the threat of contracting bloodborne diseases like HIV, hepatitis C. It may also cause scarring or collapsed veins and instigate infection of skin or soft tissue.
However, risk of contracting HIV even without the use of a needle is there because cocaine use impairs the judgment of individuals who use it who may then involve in risky sexual behaviors.
Other long term effects of cocaine which are general to all the methods of consumptions are:
- Malnourishment – because cocaine suppresses appetite
- Mood problems
- Lung damage
- Heart disease, heart attack or stroke
- Movement disorder like Parkinson’s disease – it may occur after many years of use
- Convulsions and seizures
- Sexual difficulties
- Restlessness and irritability – from cocaine binges
- Severe paranoia – lose of touch with reality
- Auditory hallucinations – hearing sounds which are not real
Large quantities of cocaine taken frequently may cause long term change in the brain’s chemistry as the mind begins to depend on the drug. The reaction time of the consumer is slower, and he finds it challenging to think, sleep and always have trouble in recalling things from memory.
· Unpleasant dreams
· Increased appetite
· Slowed thinking
The withdrawal symptoms thus forces an individual to take the addictive drug again, and thus a vicious cycle continues.
All the above-mentioned consequences of the use of cocaine suggest that this is a highly addictive drug with various biological and psychological short-term as well as long-term side effects. If you know a person who shows such symptoms or you are going through such dilemma, it is never too late to get help. Don’t underestimate the addictive habits and seek professional treatment.
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