What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. In its natural state, the coca plant is relatively harmless, but when refined into cocaine, it can lead to severe and sometimes fatal physical responses. It immediately causes high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. Sometimes, they are elevated to deadly levels.
Cocaine comes in the form of a fine powder which is usually sniffed – inhaled through the nose. It is a stimulant drug, which causes a powerful “high” which leads to euphoria, talkativeness, and an overabundance of energy.
As the body becomes increasingly tolerant to cocaine’s effects, dependence begins. More and more of the drug is needed to obtain the same level of high. Users must use the drug more often to feel equivalent levels of its effects, and eventually the brain cannot function in this new state without it. As the body becomes increasingly tolerant to cocaine’s effects, dependence begins. More and more of the drug is needed to obtain the same level of high. Users must use the drug more often to feel equivalent levels of its effects, and eventually the brain cannot function in this new state without it.
Cocaine and crack are some of the most concentrated and lethal drugs out there. If you or anyone you know is suffering from an addiction, immediate inpatient treatment is urged.
What is Crack?
Crack is the crystalized version of cocaine. It is smoked using a pipe, and the drug gets its name from the popping and cracking sound it makes when it is heated. While cocaine is widely known as being an expensive drug limited to the rich, crack is cheap. This makes it especially dangerous to teens and young people, as well as the poor, since it is easy to afford.
Because it is more concentrated, crack is also far more lethal than cocaine as a powder form. Cocaine is often cut with other powders, but crack is up to 100% pure, so its effects are stronger and longer lasting. This makes overdose a more likely possibility.
Cocaine acts on the brain chemical dopamine, which is a “feel good” chemical that causes feelings of happiness and euphoria. Compared to other drugs, the “high” from cocaine doesn’t last long.
Euphoric sensations usually only last up to fifteen or twenty minutes. To keep the feeling going, most users binge on the drug, taking large amounts in a relatively short period of time to maintain their high.
Unfortunately, cocaine also causes negative physical effects when used in the short-term and long-term.
- Rapid heart rate
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
- Abdominal cramping
- Heart attack and stroke in the case of overdose
- Nosebleeds from sniffing
- Constricted blood vessels
- Malnourishment, due to cocaine decreasing the appetite
- Heart failure
How does cocaine affect the brain?
Cocaine affects the brain by causing a large release of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that controls pleasure and happiness. This large release of dopamine is what causes feelings of euphoria, also known as a “high.” Cocaine’s affects only last about 15 to 20 minutes and leave the user craving almost immediately after the high wears off.
Risk Factors for Cocaine and Crack Addiction
Anyone can become addicted to cocaine and/or crack. Certain groups may be more likely to become dependent on drugs, while others may be more likely to try drugs in the first place, thus increasing their risk of dependency.
Being that cocaine is one of the strongest drugs available, it is often sought by those who have started out using other drugs. While there are many people who could be at a higher risk of cocaine abuse and addiction, those who are self-medicating or those who begin by using less “hard” drugs are most likely to try crack or cocaine. For instance:
Veterans are more likely than the general population to succumb to drug and alcohol abuse. They often experience co-occurring disorders, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Teens and college students are also more likely to try drugs and alcohol due to peer pressure, and because they are often available at parties and other places young adults frequent.
Cocaine is also one of the most commonly used drugs among working professionals, making in those in certain career fields more likely to try crack or cocaine while on the job, or after work.
Why is Crack considered to be more dangerous than Cocaine?
Crack is considered to be more dangerous than cocaine because crack is up to 100 percent pure, whereas the powdered form of cocaine is often mixed with other powders. Because crack is smoked instead of snorted, it reaches the brain quicker, making an overdose much more likely.
Recognizing Cocaine Use
Most drug users will try to hide the fact that they are using from those around them. Some behaviors may manifest over time, however, as it is hard for drug addicts to keep their habits a secret for long periods of time. Knowing what to look for will allow you to get help for your loved one as soon as possible.
Secretive behavior – Drug users will often try to hide drugs, paraphernalia, and other items related to their addiction, such as money earned by selling drugs. If you notice your loved one behaving secretive, locking you out of his or her room, or leaving for hours at a time without a good explanation as to why, this is a warning sign.
Hygiene – As an addict becomes more entrenched in drug abuse, he or she may lose interest in personal appearance and hygiene. Hair and teeth may go un-brushed, and the same clothing may be worn for days at a time.
Obvious physical signs – Drug addicts may begin to exhibit some physical signs of drug abuse over time. Cocaine users may experience nose bleeds, or sores around the nasal area from sniffing cocaine. Rapid jaw movement is another sign. Jaw locking or teeth clenching, tremors, and red eyes are also indicators.
Money – If your loved one has frequently started asking to borrow money, or if you’ve noticed money and valuables have gone missing, this could be a sign that he or she is using the funds to buy more cocaine
Personality – Drugs often change a person’s personality. Outgoing individuals may become withdrawn and quiet. Aggression and paranoia are also common.
Work and school – In teens, grades may begin to slip as more time and mental energy is spent acquiring and using drugs. Adults and teens alike may begin to perform poorly at work.
Isolation – One who is addicted to cocaine will become isolated, staying away from those that can tell if they are using.
Needle Marks – With cocaine use, it can be used intravenously. Needle marks, also known as track marks, can be found most commonly on the arms, legs, and between the toes.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine and crack addition are hard to beat, since cocaine is so addictive. In most cases a combination of inpatient treatment, group therapy, and ongoing support may be needed. A rehabilitation facility will help patients effectively detoxify themselves from the drugs, as well as obtaining support from trained medical professionals and others who struggle with the same issues.
Are cocaine treatments effective?
While cocaine is a difficult drug to beat, certain treatments for cocaine addiction can be effective if administered properly. Cocaine treatments, if they are to be effective, often include a combination of inpatient treatment, group therapy, and other continuous forms of support.