When does a Cocaine Habit Become Dangerous?
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, a cocaine habit becomes dangerous as soon as it is a habit. Although it is possible to use cocaine a number of times before a habit develops, most consider the habit alone dangerous. Manufacturers make cocaine from a plant harvested in South America, processed, and imported as a white powder or rock like substance. It is then snorted, injected, or in the case of crack and rock cocaine, smoked. Users and the people close to them often wonder when cocaine is actually dangerous. The dangers of a cocaine addiction or habit lie in the various effects of the drug, its derivatives, and the ways that people mix cocaine.
Cocaine is highly addictive. Addiction is a point that the body not only craves the drug but person will do anything to get it. The drug actively interferes with a person’s life, job, or relationships. This is probably the time cocaine is most dangerous. If the user allows it, the drug can destroy their life and happiness. Many people describe the experience of being addicted as a destructive force with a mind and personality of its own.
Side effects of cocaine use
Cocaine is dangerous when a person uses it. Cocaine is a stimulant, which means it raises certain body functions. These effects are collectively known as side effects. The side effects of cocaine are:
- increased heart rate and blood pressure,
- heart arrhythmia,
- increased respiratory rate,
- increased temperature,
- nausea and abdominal pain,
- violent and erratic behavior,
- seizure or stroke, and
- heart attack.
All of these side effects are dangerous to those experiencing them. The likelihood of experiencing these effects increases with continued or habitual use. These effects lead to more long term damage.
Long term effects of cocaine use
A cocaine addiction leads to long term effects. Many of these long term effects are preventable by discontinuing use. The dangerous long term consequences of habitually using cocaine are:
- nasal damage and nose bleeds,
- loss of sense of smell and taste,
- necrosis of bowel tissue, and
- extreme weight loss.
Although these conditions take a while to develop, the potential for permanent damage exists from the first dose. Once the organ or organ system is damaged, a doctor may lack the ability to repair it, resulting in tissue loss, organ failure, coma, or death.
Social and economic effects of cocaine use
Cocaine is not only dangerous to the body it is dangerous to the user’s life and finances. People who habitually use cocaine lose the people in their lives who are not addicts themselves. They begin to form friendships with other users and dealers. Family, childhood friends, and others who do not habitually use cocaine fall away due to the pressures of being around an addict. The habitual user becomes isolated.
People who purchase cocaine on a regular basis realize very quickly that the drug is very expensive. This expense causes many people to have financial difficulties. When people are actively using cocaine they miss work, are late for work, or perform poorly at work. Employers rarely tolerate this behavior for very long. The result is a loss of income or employment. The legal ramifications of cocaine use also present a financial problem.
Legal effects of cocaine
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is a schedule II substance, this means that cocaine has:
- a medical use,
- a high potential for abuse and misuse, and
- may lead to dependence or addiction.
Because the medical uses of cocaine all require strict supervision, it is rarely prescribed out of a clinical setting. Possession, distribution, and use of cocaine are prohibited except by a doctor’s orders. Law enforcement officials arrest and incarcerate people found in possession of even small amounts this drug. The consequent jail time and legal fees are extremely high. Some of the legal fees and fines run into the hundreds of thousands. It is not unusual for someone convicted of possession or trafficking to lose his or her home, car, and other valuables in the arrest.
Crack cocaine use
More dangerous than pure cocaine, crack is a form of cocaine that a manufacturer or dealer dilutes with chemicals. The chemicals they use are usually substandard. Two of the most common diluents are baking soda and ammonia. Although both are common household chemicals, they are dangerous if snorted, injected, or smoked. Crack can lead to the same heart and nervous system issues as cocaine along with respiratory issues including “crack lung.” Crack lung is a painful condition caused by decreased blood supply in the lungs. Crack is seductive to some users because it is less expensive than pure cocaine and easier to obtain.
Like all drugs prescription and illicit, cocaine is extremely dangerous when mixed with other drugs or alcohol. In many mixes, the effects of cocaine are intensified, as is the damage it does. Many people mix cocaine and end up paying this price. The unpredictable reactions can include tachycardia, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, coma, and death.
A cocaine habit becomes dangerous the moment it becomes a habit. Once you allow the drug to begin to take over your life, the dangers multiply exponentially. If the habit is affecting your physical, social, psychological, legal, or financial well-being then it can be considered dangerous. Many are blind to the dangers until it is too late and the cocaine use is already destroying their life.