Unlike many of the other drugs out there that have increased in use, cocaine has remained relatively stable since 2009, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Even though cocaine use hasn’t increased in recent years, it’s still a major public health concern. It’s estimated that 1.5 million Americans use cocaine at least once a month.

If you are concerned about your habits or a loved one’s habits involving cocaine, we hope that you find this information to be of value to you. If you have any questions, please call The River Source for a confidential assessment.

What is Cocaine? Where Does it Come From?

Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant drug that is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, found in the mountainous areas of Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. Coca leaves have been used for thousands of years among laborers working at high altitudes. The laborers would chew on the leaves to have more energy. Today, farmers are paid to grow the crops, which are then sold to cocaine processing plants. These plants are typically located in the jungles of Colombia.

How is it Used?

Cocaine is usually found as a white powder that is snorted or dissolved to be injected. It can also be found in small, white rocks that are smoked. The drug is expensive, which is why it has the image of being a “wealthy man’s drug.” While there are no exceptions, cocaine typically tends to be involved in fast-paced, high-spending lifestyles that include alcohol consumption and prostitutes.

Cocaine is not a long-lasting drug. Its effects wear off quickly, so a person who wants to continue feeling high needs to use the drug again and again. This is why cocaine is a drug that is often used in binges, with people spending thousands of dollars in a short period of time.

What are its Short-Term Effects?

Cocaine’s effects appear almost immediately, but they disappear quickly, usually within the hour. The drug is a stimulant, so it makes users feel energetic, euphoric, talkative and mentally alert. Users also tend to be ultra-sensitive to things like light, sound and touch, and they have a decreased appetite and need for sleep.

Additional effects from cocaine include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Constricted blood vessels

What About Long-Term Effects?

With repeated exposure to cocaine, the brain begins to adapt. When not using the drug, users may feel highly sensitive, irritable and moody, all signs of withdrawal. Rather than seeking normal things like food, relationships or other rewards, people begin to fixate on cocaine.

Aside from being highly addictive, repeated use of cocaine can lead to physical problems like bloody noses, decreased sense of smell, problems swallowing, restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia and irritability. Regular cocaine use places heavy stress on the heart and vascular system, which can harden the arteries and lead to seizures and death.

What Makes Cocaine So Dangerous?

Each year, about half a million people are sent to the ER for cocaine use. Between 2001 and 2014, there was a 42 percent increase in the number of deaths from the stimulant. There are specific reasons why cocaine is dangerous and potentially fatal.

Users take cocaine in binges, which means the drug is used repeatedly and in higher and higher doses. This, in itself, can lead to severe reactions like panic attacks, full-blown hallucinations or overdose.

Second, cocaine is a drug that is often cut with other substances, so users don’t always know what they’re taking. They could have a deadly drug interaction or an adverse reaction to one of the substances. Lastly, people who inject cocaine are at risk for contracting infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV.

How is Cocaine Abuse Treated?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 6 percent of all admissions to drug treatment programs were from cocaine in 2013. The majority of these users were polydrug users, meaning that they used another drug in addition to cocaine. This does complicate the treatment process, but intervention can be successful.

Addiction is a complex brain disorder that includes many components aside from changes in the brain. This is why it’s vital that a comprehensive treatment program is selected. For many individuals, the easiest way to receive comprehensive care is through holistic program. The River Source, for instance, treats the mind, body and spirit with a variety of therapies.

If you would like to learn more about our approach to treating cocaine addiction, please call us today. Your call is confidential.