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Cocaine has a reputation for extreme addictiveness. However, many people still try it thinking that they won't take it again in the future. What these people might not know is just how addictive cocaine can be.
As one of the most addictive of all intoxicating and mind altering substances, cocaine can place you at risk of suffering various health problems and dangers. In spite of this, people are still using it on a daily basis.
You should know that the first time you try cocaine, it is likely that you will be getting on a long and arduous road to regular and problematic use. This is not surprising considering the fact that SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) reported in 2013 that there were over 1.5 million users of the drug aged 12 years and above in the United States.
Cocaine is an addictive and intoxicating substance that usually comes in crystalline or powder form. In most cases, it is mixed with substances like sugar, talcum powder, and corn starch as well as other addictive drugs like amphetamines and procaine (which is a local anesthetic).
A Derivative from the leaves of the coca plant, it was originally created to act as a pain reliever. However, many people abuse it today through snorting - where the powder is absorbed through nasal tissues directly into the bloodstream. Others ingest it or rub the powder into their gums.
On the other hand, abusers also inject cocaine directly to ensure that their bodies absorb it more rapidly. However, this mode of use often increases the risk of suffering an overdose. In fact, inhaling cocaine as vapor or smoke will still speed up the rate at which it is absorbed but comes with lesser risks of adverse health effects in comparison to taking it intravenously.
On the street, cocaine is known by a variety of names, including but not limited to:
- Nose candy
- Aunt Nora
As a highly addictive and powerful drug, cocaine is now classified by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Some of the effects of abusing this drug include:
- Constricted blood vessels
- Decreased sexual function
- Dilated pupils
- Elevated mood
- Feelings of euphoria
- Feelings of restlessness
- Grandiosity or inflated self-esteem
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Increased energy
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tics or twitches
Dangers Of Cocaine Use
Cocaine has variously been referred to as the deadly white powder. This is because it is a dangerous, addictive, intoxicating substance. When you start taking it, therefore, it may be very difficult for you to free yourself from its grip - both mentally and physically.
On the physical front, it will stimulate key receptors inside the brain (which are the nerve endings responsible for sensing changes in your body). In the process, it will create an intense euphoric feeling that you will quickly develop tolerance to. At this point, only frequent use and higher doses can enable you achieve the same desired effects.
At the moment, cocaine forms a global multibillion dollar industry. It also has many uses from every economic level, occupation, and age - including school going children as young as 8 years old.
Among the dangers attached to cocaine abuse in the long run include death. This is because you can die as a result of taking this drug, because it can cause heart failure, bleeding inside the brain (cerebral hemorrhage), and stroke.
In the same way, if a woman is addicted to cocaine, their children might come into the world with a similar addiction. Many of these children also suffer a variety of health problems, including birth defects.
In spite of its dangers, however, the use of cocaine still continues increasing by the day. This is often attributed to the fact that so many users have such a hard time trying to escape the drug once they take the first steps down the long and difficult road leading to abuse, tolerance, dependence, and eventual addiction.
First Time Using Cocaine
But exactly what will happen the first time you try this drug. In some cases - however rare they may be - the first time use of cocaine can result in a variety of adverse effects, including seizures, heart attacks, and sudden death.
In other instances, when you use cocaine for the first time it will produce a variety of effects that will have different impacts on your psychological and physical health. This is because cocaine is a stimulant that will affect your brain the moment you use it.
When the drug appears in powder form, most people will abuse it through nasal snorting. Others mix the powder with water before injecting the resulting solution into their veins (referred to as shooting up) or rubbing it on their gums. Some people also smoke cocaine either on its own or after mixing it with other drugs like marijuana and tobacco.
That said, the first time you abuse cocaine you will feel a variety of effects (most of which become manifest almost immediately). These effects include, but are not limited to:
- Increased talkativeness
- Heightened sexual arousal
- Feelings of intense pleasure and general wellbeing
- Decreased sleeping behavior
- Decreased appetite
- A sense of increased mental alertness
In most cases, cocaine entails novel experiences for the brain. Therefore, the first time you use it will probably be the most intense feeling you have ever had. As a direct result, however, tolerance to the drug will build almost immediately. This means that all subsequent episodes of use will elicit relatively decreased pleasure levels.
Although using this drug produces such an intense high, it will affect you differently from how it would affect someone else. In the long run, you might start increasing your doses to deal with tolerance. This will eventually raise your risk of suffering different adverse consequences.
Thus, abusing cocaine will increase your risk of suffering:
- Violent behavior
- Rapid heart rate
- Hypertension (or raised blood pressure)
- Heart attacks
- Erratic behavior
Some of the factors that will influence the duration and intensity of the feel good effects of abusing cocaine include the dose, purity, mode of use or route of administration (nasal insufflation, intravenous use, etc.), the presence of other intoxicating and mind altering substances in your body, and the level of tolerance to cocaine.
Although, using this drug only once (or even occasionally) does not always means that you will develop an addiction to it, any use - however small - will put you in harm's way psychologically and physically. It could also raise your risk of eventually becoming dependent on and addicted to cocaine at one point or the other in the near future.
But exactly why do people use and abuse cocaine? According to NIDA (the National Institute of Drug Abuse), the use of this drug is fueled by the following reasons:
a) To Get High
Some people just abuse cocaine because they want to feel high or experience the intense effects it produces. In every one of its various forms, this drug is infamous for its ability to produce quick and intense highs that are appealing to many people - particularly those in a party mood or situation.
b) Performance Enhancement
On the other hand, some people believe that since cocaine comes with stimulating qualities, it will automatically boost their natural abilities at school, work, or in their athletic endeavors.
c) To Fit In
Teens tend to be the most impressionable population. As such, they have a high likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors - such as abusing cocaine - to simply fit in and comfort with their peers. Some of them, however, will try the drug as an experiment or to get away from their parents.
Some people experiencing unwanted symptoms relating to their mental or physical health - including anxiety, depression, and pain - might turn to cocaine to help them modify their behaviors, feelings, and thoughts.
Cocaine And The Brain
The human brain has evolved over many years to reinforce certain activities and behaviors that result in pleasure and happiness and/or promote survival. Some of these activities include, but are not necessarily limited to, sexual activity and eating.
Therefore, when you engage in these actions, your natural and health rewards system will trigger the release of the dopamine neurotransmitter. In the process, you will start feeling good.
The first time you use cocaine, your brain will respond it in the same way it would to healthy and life propagating activities. This means that it will automatically release the neurotransmitter dopamine.
However, cocaine works differently in the sense that it will block the reuptake process. This means that the dopamine that was released by your brain will remain inside the synapse. This will result in excessive dopamine activity, leading to heightened neural stimulation that causes the high that is the reason why so many people are addicted to cocaine.
With continued cocaine abuse over the long term, your brain might start adapting to the persistent presence of the drug. As such, it will no longer respond as intensely as it used to even with each successive instance of use.
This is known as building up tolerance, and it clearly explains why the first high you get from cocaine is typically the most intense. It also explains why all attempts to recreate this first high will generally be less successful.
As an user, therefore, you might start taking more potent and larger doses of the drug while trying to achieve the desired effects. Over time, this ramp up of cocaine abuse will lead to the development of dependence and addiction.
Since your brain will adapt to having cocaine in its system, it might start having problems responding in the natural and appropriate way to other healthier rewards. This could result in your diminished ability to naturally feel happiness and pleasure in anything else apart from cocaine. This problem will further propel your addiction and increase your risk of relapse even after you receive cocaine rehabilitation and treatment.
However, apart from the intensely rewarding effects and feelings that cocaine will trigger in your brain, your eventual addiction will be influenced by the factors listed below:
- Access to the drug
- Availability of the drug
- Childhood experiences
- Existence of the right social relationships or environment
- Past trauma
- Previous drug use
- Socioeconomic status
As you continue abusing cocaine, you might become tolerant to it - meaning that you will need to use more of the drug and/or in more frequent doses. If you give in and fail to undergo treatment and rehabilitation, this might quickly cause dependence on cocaine.
In most cases, people who are dependent on this drug will feel that they need it to feel and act normal. They will also both function and feel terribly if they do not use the substance. Additionally, cocaine dependency will almost always guarantee that you will undergo some form of cocaine withdrawal if you do not take the drug for some time.
To varying degrees, withdrawal avoidance, dependence, and tolerance will all serve to lead to the development of your cocaine addiction. At this point, you will have compulsive desires to abuse the drug despite the negative consequences it might already have started causing to your health, life, and work.
The risks and adverse effects attached to cocaine abuse and addiction are so many - including sudden death as a result of overdosing on this drug. To ensure that this does not happen to you, the best thing you can do is seek treatment at a certified, licensed, and accredited drug detox, treatment, and rehabilitation facility.
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