Recreational use of cocaine can easily develop into a cocaine addiction.
This guide explores the dangers of cocaine and outlines how cocaine dependence and addiction develop and shows you how to connect with evidence-based treatment to kickstart your recovery from cocaine addiction.
Cocaine is a highly addictive Schedule II controlled substance derived from coca plant leaves. People indigenous to South America have used coca leaves for thousands of years for their stimulant properties.
Cocaine hydrocholoride was first isolated from the plant over 100 years ago. Cocaine was the active ingredient in many tonics in the early 1900s. Surgeons also used the substance as a pain reliever before synthetic local anesthetics were developed. Today, cocaine is an illicit narcotic with limited medical utility.
There are two primary forms of cocaine abuse:
Powdered cocaine is hydrochloride salt, which is water-soluble. People snort the powder or dissolve it into an injectable solution.
Crack cocaine is created by processing cocaine powder with baking soda or ammonia and water and then heating the solution to remove the hydrochloride salt. This results in a smokable freebase form of cocaine that is even more addictive than powdered cocaine.
According to estimates from NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), 15% of adults in the United States have tried cocaine at least once.
Regardless of the form cocaine comes in or the route of administration, addiction can rapidly develop. This may involve physical dependence, psychological addiction, or both. Habitual use of cocaine will prompt cravings for the euphoric effects of the drug and a compulsion to use more of the substance.
As tolerance to cocaine builds, you will require more of the drug to deliver the same effects. Sustained cocaine abuse will bring about changes to the function and structure of your brain, making it more challenging to resist subsequent cravings for cocaine.
For most people who abuse cocaine, psychological dependence on the drug becomes more problematic than any symptoms of physical withdrawal. This issue can be addressed during inpatient or outpatient treatment.
Cocaine addiction signs can be grouped as physical, psychological, and behavioral.
Cocaine addiction, like any other substance use disorder, is a progressive condition that goes through several stages. These stages can vary from person to person, but they typically include:
This is the initial stage where someone tries cocaine for the first time, whether out of curiosity, to self-medicate, or due to peer pressure. The person may use the drug occasionally without experiencing any significant adverse outcomes.
During this stage of cocaine abuse, a person starts using cocaine more frequently and may begin to experience some negative consequences like financial problems, relationship issues, or health complications.
At this stage, a person may start using cocaine in higher doses or more frequently, leading to increased risks of addiction, overdose, and other health complications
At this stage, a person becomes physically and often psychologically dependent on cocaine, and their ability to function normally without the drug is compromised. Signs of cocaine abuse may be apparent to friends and family members. They will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using cocaine.
This is the most advanced stage of cocaine addiction, characterized by a loss of control over cocaine use and ongoing use despite experiencing significant negative consequences such as job loss, financial ruin, relationship breakdowns, or health problems.
Cocaine dependence, like any form of substance dependence, can lead to significant risks and potential harm, both physical and mental. Here are some of the main dangers of cocaine dependence:
Cocaine can cause an array of health problems, from heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory failure to seizures and other life-threatening conditions. Long-term cocaine use can also damage the brain, liver, kidneys, and other organs, leading to chronic health issues.
The longer you use cocaine, the more likely you are to develop an addiction. Cocaine addiction can be challenging to overcome and can result in long-term consequences.
Cocaine dependence can cause significant strain on personal relationships, leading to conflicts, trust issues, and even breakup or divorce.
Cocaine use can be expensive, and dependence can lead to significant financial problems, including debt, job loss, and homelessness.
Cocaine use is illegal, and dependence may lead to legal problems, including arrests, fines, and imprisonment.
Cocaine dependence can inflame existing mental health issues or trigger new ones, including depression, anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis.
Cocaine dependence increases the risk of potentially fatal overdose. Overdose symptoms include seizures, respiratory failure, heart attack, and coma.
The following cocaine abuse statistics from SAMHSA’s latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that:
NIDA’s 2021 Monitoring the Future Survey shows that:
If this guide to cocaine abuse symptoms has given you cause for concern, reach out to Ohio Community Health for help addressing stimulant use disorder.
The earlier you pick up on the symptoms of cocaine abuse and engage with treatment, the more seamless your recovery journey will be.
We specialize in the intensive outpatient treatment of cocaine addiction. Engage with personalized treatment that may include:
Call admissions today at (877) 679-2132 for immediate help addressing cocaine addiction.
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