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Cocaine Addiction

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Cocaine Addiction

cocaine-addictionCocaine Addiction – Risks and Treatment

Cocaine is often a glamorized drug taken by people from all social classes. While many people believe they won’t fall victim to the drug’s addictive nature, cocaine addiction is actually quite common. Whether a person is addicted to crack cocaine or just the powdered form, cocaine, addiction treatment is often the best course of action when taking back control over their life.

 What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant that acts directly on the brain, causing an increase in energy both mentally and physically. Use of this stimulant often results in addiction. Though, most popularly known for its use in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it has been around for thousands of years. Long ago people would chew and ingest coca leaves, which is what cocaine is made from. The purified chemical version has been abused for over a 100 years, and was commonly added to many elixirs and tonics used to treat several illnesses.

It is a Schedule II drug, which means that it has some medical uses but can only be obtained legally from a doctor, as it has a high rate of abuse. When bought illegally, the drug is in the form of a whitish powder and is known by names such as coke, blow, snow and flake. The drug is often diluted with talcum powder, sugar and cornstarch in order to increase the dealer’s profit.

The freebase form of cocaine is a water-insoluble substance that is smoked. When heated, it generates a cracking sound, granting it the name, crack cocaine. Due to the drug’s substantial addictiveness, stories of people going to dangerous and un-natural lengths to acquire more amounts, are common.

How Does Cocaine Dependency Form?

Cocaine affects the brain’s frontal lobe and also has a negative impact on the grey matter in the brain. Studies performed at the University of Cambridge in England have shown an increase of the basal ganglia associated with the reward system in the brain of a cocaine addict. However, it is noted that the enlargement is not necessarily due to the addiction and is relatively present beforehand. The results of these studies show that due to this abnormality, some people are more prone to developing a cocaine dependency. This also explains why others can experiment with the drug but never become addicted.

Repeated use of cocaine, or any other addictive substance, triggers a change in the brain’s chemistry. Over a period of continuous use, a new balance is formed that counteracts the excessive impacts cocaine has on the brain. Once these changes occur, an addict will experience withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing their cocaine use because the brain will once again become unbalanced. The withdrawal process is essentially the brain trying to achieve a new balance without the presence of the drug.

What are the Signs of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction?

The signs and symptoms of cocaine dependency can be broken into four categories: mood, physical, behavioral and psychological symptoms. The following are some expected signs and symptoms that a cocaine addiction exists:

Mood Symptoms

  • Panic

  • Irritation

  • Anxiety

  • Fearfulness

Physical Symptoms

  • Lowered need for sleep
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Headaches
  • Runny nose
  • Hoarseness
  •  Increased temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
  •  Malnutrition
  •  Sexual dysfunction
  •  Tremors

 Behavioral Symptoms

  •  Talkative
  •  Violent
  •  Risky behavior
  •  Increased energy levels

Psychological Symptoms

  • Psychosis
  • Rationalization drug abuse
  • Lack in motivation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Cocaine Abuse and Addiction Treatment

Unlike substances such as alcohol and heroin, there is no specific drug that can be given to block the effects of future cocaine use. Based on recent studies done by NIDA, the most effective pharmacological approach to dealing with cocaine dependency involves disulfiram, the drug used to treat alcohol abuse.

Behavioral therapy through programs aimed to change the way a person behaves or responds to situations in which they would normally abuse drugs, remains to be the best method for dealing with cocaine abuse and addiction. Motivational incentives have been proven to be one of the best therapeutic methods.

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