Cocaine is an illicit stimulant drug derived from the coca plant. Banned in the United States in 1922 after years of being marketed as an energy supplement and diet aid, cocaine usage reemerged decades later in the 1970s as a designated party drug. Today, cocaine is the second-most trafficked drug in the world.
When used, cocaine induces feelings of euphoria, invincibility, and strength in the user. Cocaine alters brain chemistry by increasing levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Due to this surge of dopamine, cocaine is highly addictive. As a stimulant, prolonged use of the drug negatively impacts central nervous system functioning and can cause stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, convulsions, cardiac arrest, and death.
The Cocaine High
Cocaine is commonly snorted but can also be taken orally, injected, or smoked. Reactions to the drug occur almost immediately and typically last for 15-30 minutes. The use of cocaine results in a high in which the user experiences:
Sense of invincibility/ grand sense of self
Dangers of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine is highly addictive due to its desirable side effects such as euphoria and inflated confidence. When used, cocaine manipulates brain chemistry by blocking dopamine reabsorption which causes a dopamine surplus in the brain. As the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward regulation, dopamine remains idle in the brain, resulting in intense feelings of euphoria, although brief..
Like most stimulants, cocaine is quickly metabolized within the body. Depending on the amount ingested, a cocaine high lasts anywhere from 15-30 minutes, with feelings of euphoria devolving into agitation and fatigue as the high fades. These unpleasant effects reinforce continued use. As a stimulant, excessive cocaine use has the potential to inflict serious damage on the organs, specifically the cardiovascular system.
While cocaine has the potential to harm various organs, the heart remains the most vulnerable to damage. Cocaine aggressively increases an individual’s heart rate and blood pressure, leading to an increase in oxygen demand which puts strain on the cardiovascular system. In a study conducted by the American Heart Association, stimulant drug use was reported in 594 of 11,258 patients who were treated for heart failure across 83 different hospitals. The AHA also states that patients who abused stimulant drugs were more likely to experience three or more hospitalizations within a 6-month timeframe.
Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine abuse has a profound impact on an individual’s life and health. The following indicators are unique to cocaine abuse. If you or a loved one is displaying these signs, it is likely that abuse has developed into an addiction.
- Cardiac Issues
As a stimulant, cocaine increases both heart rate and blood pressure, putting stress on the cardiovascular system. After prolonged or excessive use, the heart can suffer irreversible damage due to this stress, leading to various health complications.
- Nasal problems
The most common means of cocaine administration is snorting. This act can damage blood vessels within the nasal passage, resulting in frequent or excessive nose bleeds. Cocaine abuse can also cause damage to the nasal canal, resulting in a permanently damaged or deviated septum.
- Development of Psychiatric Disorders
Cocaine targets neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, which generate a euphoric feeling when high. Prolonged use of cocaine can permanently alter brain chemistry, disabling the brain from organically managing or producing neurotransmitters. Because of this, extensive use of cocaine is known to provoke dormant mood and mental disorders such as anxiety, panic disorders, depression, or psychosis.
Knoxville Recovery Center Can Help
Cocaine abuse is life-threatening if left untreated. Fortunately, help is available for those battling this addiction. Depending on the stage of an individual’s addiction, they may require detox, an intensive treatment program, or both. Fortunately, Knoxville Recovery Center offers various services to those struggling with this addiction.
Detox – Our on-site detox clinic accommodates and supports clients as the body sheds all residual traces of cocaine. Clients are under medical supervision during the detox process to ensure that they remain safe and comfortable.
Addiction Treatment – During our addiction treatment program, clients will engage in introductory therapies and exercises that work to prepare them for continued, more intensive treatment outside of our facility. The goal of our addiction treatment track is to stabilize clients so that they are treatment-ready.
Mental Health Treatment – Our mental health treatment program introduces behavioral therapies rooted in self-expression and holistic exercise. Art therapy, music therapy, and yoga are just a few forms of therapy we offer at the center. Our goal is to help the client reclaim their voice and expose them to treatment within a professional facility.
Aftercare Planning – Aftercare is designed for individuals who have benefitted from our introductory addiction services and are transitioning into a more intensive addiction treatment program. Once a client is stabilized, they will be encouraged to pursue continued addiction treatment. Our experienced case managers will then work with our clients to place them in a program that addresses their specific wants and needs. Addiction is difficult to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call Knoxville Recovery Center and speak with an addiction expert today.