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What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a psychoactive stimulant drug. It’s made from the coca plant native to South America and was previously used in clinical settings as an anesthetic but is now a popular recreational drug.
Cocaine is one of the most commonly used drugs in the U.S.A. According to SAMHSA, 5.5 million people used cocaine last year in America.
The National Institutes on Health reports that there were over 3,000 male deaths and over 1,000 female deaths as a result of cocaine misuse in 2014. Among all demographics, the group most likely to use cocaine and suffer from health complications are 18 to 25-year olds.
Cocaine is found in the form of a white powder. Another form of cocaine, known as crack cocaine, is found as a freebase crystal, or ‘rock.’ Both forms of cocaine are incredibly addictive. The high that users achieve is short-lived, but the adverse side effects of prolonged use are much longer-lasting.
Cocaine addiction can consume a person’s life. It is important that you seek professional treatment as soon as possible if you have been abusing cocaine. Recovery is possible and is most effective when treatment takes place early.
Here at Detox West Tennessee, we help clients recover from cocaine addiction by offering a fully medically supervised detox program. Each program is tailored to suit the needs of the client. Medical and psychological support are available 24/7 to support clients through the detox process.
Effects of Cocaine on the Brain
Cocaine acts on the brain’s limbic system – the part of the brain that governs our behavior and emotions. The limbic system is responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation. When consumed, cocaine causes the release of dopamine – the brain’s reward chemical.
Dopamine is released in the brain when we engage in rewarding activities, such as eating, exercise, and sex. It is a naturally occurring chemical, and our brains are designed to release, process, and reuptake dopamine without any problems.
Dopamine alters the state of cells to help us adapt to our needs. If we need to mobilize our muscles or improve our cognitive function, dopamine signals to the surrounding brain cells to get to work. The more dopamine that is released in the brain, the more changes happen in the surrounding brain cells.
The brain wants to keep its cells functioning at a healthy pace and intensity. To do that, it increases or decreases the amount of dopamine that is released. It regulates the dopamine levels by reuptaking some of the released dopamine molecules back into the dopaminergic (dopamine-making) cells.
According to Science & Practice Perspectives, cocaine causes the release of an abnormally large amount of dopamine. As such, it interferes with the brain’s ability to reuptake extra dopamine molecules. This means that dopamine molecules that would have been reabsorbed in the brain remain active. This causes brain cells to over-activate.
Short-term Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine starts acting on us very within minutes of being taken. It quickly enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. Here, it hijacks the brain’s limbic system, resulting in an excited central nervous system (CNS) and the heightened release of dopamine.
As outlined in the Journal of the National Medical Association, the short-term effects of cocaine use include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli
- Dilated pupils
The method of consumption influences the duration of the high. If snorted, the cocaine high comes on within 15 minutes and may last an hour. If smoked, the effects are immediate but may only last for 10-15 minutes. Heavy cocaine use can intensify the above effects and lead to anxiety, paranoia, and confusion.
Long-term Effects of Cocaine
Prolonged use of cocaine has consistently been found to cause a range of physical and psychological health complications. The most significant risks of prolonged cocaine use are addiction and poor cardiovascular health.
Cocaine overdose is also a real possibility. Cocaine gives a very immediate high, that wears off quickly. Users may seek out more and more cocaine to sustain their high and achieve the same effects. This can be a lethal combination with cocaine’s varying purity levels.
According to the Journal of the National Medical Association, the long-term effects of cocaine use include:
- Changes in brain structure
- Cardiovascular health complications
- Worsened mental health issues (depression, anxiety)
- Dependence and addiction
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Legal issues
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Cocaine Dependence and Addiction
Cocaine addiction impacts all demographics. Anyone can become addicted to cocaine, regardless of age, gender, or ethnic background. Cocaine addiction negatively impacts all areas of your life. People addicted to cocaine may prioritize getting and taking the drug of the drug overwork and familial responsibilities.
Many people use cocaine recreationally. It is a common party drug. It provides users with a sense of alertness, improved focus, and euphoria. People feel more confident, talkative, and less self-conscious.
Cocaine addiction can happen quickly. A person may not notice their frequency of use at first. They may think they’re being responsible and in control of their behavior. Typically, a friend or loved one will see some signs that something has changed in the individual.
Although it can feel confrontational, a person is fortunate if someone cares enough to call them out on their changes and behavior. Cocaine addiction is a serious condition and intervention is important for a real chance of recovery.
Cocaine Withdrawal and Detox
Once a person has become addicted to cocaine, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using. Withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable. The symptoms can be so debilitating that a person is likely to keep using cocaine to avoid experiencing the symptoms.
Some of the most common cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Reduced libido
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
- Temperature swings
- Nerve pain
- Musculoskeletal aches and pain
- Intense cravings for cocaine
- Suicidal thoughts
Cocaine addiction requires professional treatment. Those who have attempted to stop using cocaine on their own understand how difficult it can be. It is important that professional help is sought.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can be so severe and distressing that a person is highly likely to relapse without professional help. One may also experience feelings of despair and suicidal ideation, which makes professional support even more important.
Recovery Support at Detox West Tennessee
Detoxification is the elimination of chemical residue from the body after prolonged substance abuse. The body undergoes this process naturally when we stop using cocaine, or any other substance for that matter. However, the process of detoxification sets the stage for the challenging withdrawal symptoms to begin.
Detox is a crucial time in recovery. If you can get the professional help you need as soon as possible after the last use of cocaine, your chances of recovery are higher.
There are currently no cocaine-specific detox medications. However, some medications are prescribed to help clients manage their withdrawal symptoms. We can provide medical assistance in the form of benzodiazepines – anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medications that can reduce the severity of withdrawal. We also have expert counselors and psychiatrists on board to help clients struggling through this challenging and vulnerable time.
Detoxification is the first step on the road to recovery. After detox, it is highly recommended that clients enter rehabilitation. In rehab, clients receive a range of behavioral and cognitive therapies. These modalities address the underlying reasons for cocaine use and promote effective self-management and emotional resilience.
If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine addiction, please contact us today. We can help you begin your path to recovery. We offer comprehensive support in the form of a medically supervised detoxification program. All clients are treated with compassion and non-judgment in a safe and comfortable environment.
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