Cocaine: The Physical and Mental Grip

CocaineCocaine is an extremely dangerous drug, and once users experience its powerful euphoria, it is difficult to break free of its mental and physical grip.[1] Physically, cocaine stimulates key receptors within the brain that create a euphoria.1 Soon, the user develops a tolerance, with only higher dosages and more frequent use able to bring about the same effects.1 Second to methamphetamine, cocaine creates the greatest psychological dependence of any drug.1

A 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 35.3 million Americans reported having used cocaine.1 Another 8.6 million reported having used crack.1 Cocaine continues to be the most frequently mentioned illegal drug reported to the Drug Abuse Warning Network by American hospital emergency departments.1

Cocaine creates a short-lived, yet intense high that is immediately followed by an intense depression and craving for more.1 Addicts who use the drug frequently often don’t have healthy eating or sleeping habits.1 When cocaine is taken, it increases the user’s heart rate, can cause muscle spasms, and make the user feel paranoid, angry, and anxious.1 Users of cocaine are at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, seizure, or respiratory failure—any of which can lead to death.1

Other short-term effects include dilated pupils, nausea, hyper-stimulation, bizarre behavior, seizures, and tactile hallucinations (illusions of bugs burrowing under the skin).1

More long-term effects include loss of appetite and sleep deprivation, and daily users can become psychotic and begin to hallucinate.1 They begin to need more and more of the drug just to feel normal.1 As they use more, they lose more interest in other areas of their lives.1

Coming down off of cocaine can cause an extremely severe depression that will cause the person to do almost anything for the drug.1 If the user isn’t able to get ahold of any, the intense depression can drive the addict to suicide.1

Other long-term effects include permanent damage to the blood vessels of the heart and brain; high blood pressure; liver, kidney, and lung damage; destruction of nose tissues, if snorted; and severe tooth decay.1 Long-term users also are at risk for infectious diseases and abscesses if the drug is injected.1

Getting professional help to deal with cocaine addiction and the underlying issues can put you back on the right path in life. It’s never too early or too late to seek treatment.

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