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Home / Drug Addiction / Cocaine addiction
  • What is a Cocaine addiction?
    • Though cocaine can be used recreationally it is a drug that is highly addictive, and often, recreational use turns into addiction. Addiction is characterised by compulsive use, despite negative consequences. If someone cannot stop themselves from taking cocaine in the face of harsh consequences, there is a good chance that they are addicted. Another tell-tale sign of cocaine addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms. In these cases, using the drug in large quantities and often, has caused a person to develop a physical dependence on the drug. When use suddenly stops, the withdrawal kicks in, often causing the person to use again, in an effort to get rid of the symptoms. If using cocaine stops being an occasional risky decision at a party, and instead becomes something that is used to maintain normalcy in your life, you are addicted.

  • Methods of use
    • Cocaine is often used in conjunction with alcohol. The combination of a stimulant (cocaine) and a depressant (alcohol) can have serious effects on the body. When the two drugs are metabolized by the liver at the same time it produces cocaethylene. While cocaethylene temporarily enhances the high from both the cocaine and the alcohol, it also has its own laundry list of side effects and risks associated with it. An increase in levels of cocaethylene in the liver has also been linked to sudden death.
  • Effects on the user
    • The cocaine ‘high’ lasts about 15 to 40 minutes, if used frequently.

      Effects include:
      • Intense euphoria
      • Confidence
      • Being talkative
      • Having feelings of great strength, power and intelligence increased energy
      • Loss of appetite.

        The ‘come-down’ effects of the drug are the complete opposite of the ‘high’. This episode is referred to as a ‘crash’, and can last for several hours after the last usage. Indications start immediately after the ‘high’ diminishes. During the ‘crash’, the user will experience severe psychological cravings for more of the drug. If more of the drug cannot be obtained, the user may suffer from extreme irritability, restlessness and paranoia. In severe cases aggressive and violent behaviour, as well as homicidal or suicidal tendencies may be present.

        Cocaine psychosis may occur when large doses of the drug have been taken continuously (a binge). Psychosis is a mental disorder, characterised by complete disconnection from reality. The individual suffers from hallucinations, mainly auditory, behaves in a disorderly manner, has disorganised speech, and irrational or paranoid beliefs.

  • Harmful side effects and health risks
    • It was only at the turn of the 20th century, that the real dangers of cocaine were understood.  Tolerance develops very quickly with regular use, and more of the drug is required to maintain the initial effect. Deep psychological dependence occurs with frequent use of cocaine.

      Adverse effects include:
      • Extreme mental cravings
      • Depression
      • Paranoia
      • Delusions
      • Violent outbursts
      • Aggressive behaviour
      • False sensations of being watched, followed, or people are out ‘to get you’.
      • Fatigue
      • Dilated pupils
      • Insomnia
      • Acute respiratory problems, lung trauma and bleeding
      • Constriction of the veins
      • Ulcers
      • Weight loss
      • Nasal passage damage and bleeding.

        Smoking crack cocaine causes severe damage to the mouth, teeth and lips (crack lip).

  • Withdrawal
    • Withdrawal symptoms may last for several months, depending on the extent and frequency of use.

      Symptoms include:
      • Psychological cravings
      • Aggression
      • Severe depression
      • Anti-social behaviour
      • Extreme mood-swings
      • Suspicion
      • Paranoid delusions
      • Feelings of being unable to cope with daily tasks.

        Permanent abstinence from cocaine should always be undertaken with professional help and support.

  • Overdose potential
    • There is a great risk of overdose associated with cocaine abuse, especially during cocaine binges or when the drug is injected. An overdose causes an increased and irregular heart rate. an extreme rise in body temperature resulting in seizures, respiratory failure, cardiac arrest, coma and/or death.

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