What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that is derived from the cocoa plant and is primarily harvested in Mexico then shipped to all areas of the world via cartels, drug rings and similar organizations. The drug is extremely dangerous, highly potent and widely abused throughout the United States as well as many other countries. Cocaine usually comes in a white powder form but the drug can also be mixed with other chemicals and cooked to create a hard form known widely as crack.
Cocaine can be described as a toxic substance that, although naturally derived from a plant, can cause stimulant effects that result in a short-lived high which lasts anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours at most. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the drug is usually available in powder form but when it has been cooked it forms a solid form that resembles small white rocks. Cocaine one of the most commonly used drugs in the world and is widely abused in many countries despite the inherent dangers that come from using such a substance.
How is Cocaine Used?
Cocaine is most often snorted, injected or smoked. The drug can also be ingested although this method of cocaine use is far less common. Snorting cocaine can lead to a wide array of health problems as can injecting or smoking it. When cocaine is injected, the drug is mixed with water or another soluble substance to create a liquid-like matter that is injected intravenously with a needle. If crack cocaine is being used, the primary method of use would be by smoking it in a glass pipe but other methods of smoking crack can also be used.
According to the National Library of Medicine, the effects of cocaine will usually last somewhere between a few minutes and a few hours depending on the amount of the drug that was used, the form that the drug was in, the potency of the drug and various other factors. Smoking crack typically produces a euphoric effect that is quickly reduced. As a result, when a user smokes crack, he or she will often use large amounts of the drug, many times over in an effort to keep the high going or to prevent a “crash.”
Cocaine effects are felt throughout the body. First, the whole body speeds up and feels energetic. The user may get happy or excited and will feel as if he or she has increased power. As the high wears off, the user will feel irritable, angry, tired, nervous or afraid. These effects will generally last for a few hours after the drug is used but in rare cases, psychosis can result which may last inevitably causing the user many days, weeks or months of trouble.
How Cocaine Works
When cocaine is used, the user will experience a series of changes that take place deep within the brain where the chemical messengers, neurotransmitters, work to communicate with one another. The cocaine will block the production of norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters from being absorbed which in turn will cause a build up of these messengers. This is what essentially causes the user to feel the high.
Signs of Cocaine Use
There are a number of ways that you may be able to tell if someone is using cocaine. Even as an outsider looking in, spotting the signs of cocaine use can be relatively simple. The user will show some of the following signs:
- dilated pupils
- increased energy and increased activity levels
- rapid speech
- restlessness or inability to stay still
As a user begins to experience more and more instances of cocaine abuse, he or she may begin to develop a tolerance for the drug which can quickly lead to addiction. Cocaine addiction can have a long-lasting impact on the user making it difficult to quit using even when the decision is made to get sober. Cocaine addiction is not as highly physical as heroin or prescription drug addictions can be but it is still highly dangerous and can have a lasting impact on the psychological well-being of the user.
The long-term effects of cocaine addiction include:
- changes in demeanor
- changes in happiness or inability to feel happy without drugs
- depression that becomes chronic
- lack of interest or appeal
- gum disease
- heart problems
- permanent brain damage
- psychological problems
Dangers of Cocaine Use
Using cocaine is highly dangerous for a number of reasons. For one, this drug has no know medical uses which means there is no safe level of cocaine use. Any use of cocaine is considered dangerous and abusive. Next, because this is a street drug, there is no regulation of the drug which means there is no way to know if the drug that is being used really is cocaine or whether there may be other drugs mixed in with the drug. Also, no regulation means that there is no way to know how potent or strong the drug is unless you try it and using just a little could be highly dangerous and may even lead to permanent side-effects.
Cocaine use can lead to:
- heart attack
- heart disease
- abnormal heart rhythm
- violent behavior
- lung damage
- sinus damage
- kidney failure
- liver damage
- high blood pressure
- impaired sexual function
There is no safe way to use cocaine or to get “high.” This drug can lead to long-term implications that may or may not go away when the drug is no longer being used. Physically, cocaine can lead to heart attack, stroke or death. Psychologically, cocaine can lead to paranoia, anxiety and permanent psychosis that mimics many of the symptoms of schizophrenia and is not treatable.
Addiction to Cocaine
Sustained cocaine abuse is likely to cause addiction. Addiction to this drug is difficult to control, challenging to cope with and very hard to overcome. People who become addicted to cocaine often suffer great financial troubles, relationship problems, health problems and various legal problems as a result of their addiction to this dangerous drug. Left untreated, cocaine addiction can literally ruin a person’s life and the lives of those who care about the individual.
Fortunately, there is help! If you or someone you love is addicted to cocaine, consider the benefits of seeking help today. You can get sober, regain control of your life and take back your happiness. Cocaine addiction is difficult to deal with and challenging to overcome but you can do it, recovery is possible.