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Cocaine / Crack Addiction

Cocaine and crack, the freebase form of cocaine, produce a quick, euphoric sensation known as a “high,” when they are taken. It is this high that makes these drugs highly addictive, as people want more of the substance as soon as the euphoria fades. The seemingly positive reaction to cocaine and crack cocaine stems from the ability of these substances to flood the brain with dopamine, a neurotransmitter involved with the body’s reward system. Over time, the user will require more of the drug to achieve the same effect, a dangerous process known as tolerance that increases the likelihood of dependency.

Cocaine and crack serve as both a stimulant and an anesthetic or pain-reducing drug. It is the only substance to contain both these properties, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Cocaine comes in powder or crystal form and can be snorted or smoked. Crack cocaine is powder cocaine mixed with baking soda and water and smoked. The intensity and speed of the high that is achieved with crack make this substance even more psychologically addictive and dangerous than standard cocaine.

More than 14 percent of people age 12 and over have used cocaine at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). NIDA also reports that there has been a 29-percent increase in deaths due to cocaine overdose from 2001 to 2013 and nearly 5,000 overdose deaths in 2013 alone.

The Effects of Cocaine and Crack on the Body

The initial effects of cocaine on the body might include the following:

  • Hyperactivity and increased agitation
  • Euphoria referred to as a “high”
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Increased focus and alertness

When the high subsides, the user may experience unpleasant sensations, such as anxiety, irritability and insomnia. Intense depression can also lead to craving more of the drug, which is how addiction can occur very quickly. People want more of the drug to get rid of the bad feelings and experience the high once again.

Signs of Cocaine and Crack Abuse and Dependency

Many signs could indicate a cocaine addiction is present:

  • Powdery residue around the nose and mouth or needle marks if the drug is injected
  • Paraphernalia from using, including spoons, syringes, razor blades and small plastic bags
  • Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • A runny nose and other cold symptoms, frequent nosebleeds
  • Spending more time alone, losing interest in friends and family
  • Loss of focus on hygiene or personal appearance
  • More time spent getting and using the drug, as well as recovering from its effects
  • Inability to stop using the substance, even if it causes personal, professional or legal problems

Long-Term Damage from Cocaine and Crack Abuse

Using cocaine or crack cocaine over an extended period could result in damage to both the brain and body that may or may not reverse when the substance is stopped. Long-term damage from cocaine use might include:

  • Reduced appetite and malnourishment
  • Delusions, hallucinations and paranoia
  • Impaired sense of smell if drug is snorted
  • Damage to vital organs, particularly the kidneys
  • Increased risk of heart attack and cardiovascular problems
  • Psychotic symptoms and erratic behavior
  • Reduced cognitive function, focus and decision-making
  • Higher incidence of ADHD and Parkinson’s disease

The sooner someone seeks help for cocaine addiction, the less likely they are to suffer permanent damage. In addition, faster treatment means a lower risk of overdose, which can lead to coma and even death.

The Dangers of Cocaine and Crack Withdrawal

People that are addicted to cocaine and try to stop taking the drug on their own may find they are not prepared for the uncomfortable process of detoxification. As the substance is gradually eliminated from the body, you may experience symptoms like severe depression, inability to focus, sleep disruptions and intense cravings. While the withdrawal symptoms after cocaine use are not usually a medical emergency, they can be unpleasant enough to cause a relapse. Supervised detoxification is often the most efficient and safest way to stop taking cocaine or crack while preparing you for the treatment process that lies ahead.

Getting Treatment Help

Cocaine and crack are addictive and dangerous, leading to a reduced quality of life, possible damage to the mind and body and even death in some cases. Now is the time to seek help for you or someone you love. Contact Serenity Oaks Wellness Center today at 844-720-6847.

Serenity Oaks Wellness Center