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Cocaine Abuse & Addiction
What are the effects of cocaine?
Cocaine's effects appear almost immediately after a single dose, and disappear within a few minutes or hours. Taken in small amounts (up to 100 mg), cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert, especially to the sensations of sight, sound, and touch. It can also temporarily decrease the need for food and sleep. Some users find that the drug helps them to perform simple physical and intellectual tasks more quickly, while others can experience the opposite effect.
Users often report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety, and cocaine can trigger paranoia. Users also report being depressed when they are not using the drug and often resume use to alleviate further depression. In addition, cocaine users frequently find that they need more and more cocaine more often to generate the same level of stimulation. Therefore, any use can lead to addiction.
Short-Term Effects of Cocaine
Long-Term Effects of Cocaine
Once having tried cocaine, an individual may have difficulty predicting or controlling the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug.
Use of cocaine in a binge, during which the drug is taken repeatedly and at increasingly high doses, leads to a state of increasing irritability, restlessness, and paranoia. This may result in a full-blown paranoid psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations.
Cardiovascular (e.g., disturbances in heart rhythm, heart attacks)
Respiratory (e.g., chest pain, respiratory failure)
Neurological (e.g., strokes, seizures, headaches)
Gastrointestinal (e.g., abdominal pain, nausea)
Different routes of cocaine administration can produce different adverse effects. Regularly snorting cocaine, for example, can lead to loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and an overall irritation of the nasal septum, which can lead to a chronically inflamed, runny nose.
Ingested cocaine can cause severe bowel gangrene, due to reduced blood flow.
Persons who inject cocaine have puncture marks and tracks, most commonly in their forearms. Intravenous cocaine users may also experience an allergic reaction, either to the drug, or to some additive in street cocaine, which can result, in severe cases, in death.
Because cocaine has a tendency to decrease food intake, many chronic cocaine users lose their appetites and can experience significant weight loss and malnourishment.
Added Danger: Cocaethylene
Researchers have found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol and manufactures a third substance, cocaethylene, that intensifies cocaine's euphoric effects. The mixture of cocaine and alcohol is the most common two-drug combination that results in drug-related death. Warning of extra heart dangers from mixing cocaine and alcohol (November 8, 2009)
To learn more about cocaine and other drugs of abuse,
call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at
Australian Drug Information Network ~ Comprehensive Australian and international alcohol and drug information.
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse ~ Information and advice from Canada's national addictions agency.
Chemically Dependent Anonymous ~ 12-step fellowship that does not make distinctions in the recovery process based on any particular substance, believing that the addictive-compulsive usage of chemicals is the core of addictive disease and the use of any mood-changing chemical will result in relapse.
Christian Recovery International ~ A coalition of ministries dedicated to helping the Christian community become a safe and helpful place for people recovering from addiction, abuse or trauma.
Cocaine Anonymous ~ 12-step recovery to individuals who are suffering from cocaine addiction.
National Clearinghouse for Drug and Alcohol Information ~ The world's largest resource for current information and materials concerning substance abuse.
More Information on Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine Abuse in Warm Environments Impairs Body's Perception of Heat, Ability to Sweat -- And Can Be Lethal ~ Cocaine, even in small amounts, can be fatal when taken in warm environments, such as hot weather, crowded nightclubs or rave parties - all-night dance parties where illicit cocaine use is common. Researchers discovered that cocaine elevates body temperature by impairing the body's ability to increase skin-blood flow, to sweat, and to perceive excessive heat stress.
Cocaine and Alcohol Combined Are More Damaging to Mental Ability Than Either Drug Alone ~ Scientists have found that cocaine abuse coupled with use of alcohol leads to more impulsive decision-making and to poorer performance on tests of learning and memory than does use of either cocaine or alcohol alone. The negative effects on the ability to think clearly persist for at least a month after the substance use stops.
Cocaine Brain Damage Might Be Permanent ~ Cocaine appears to damage and perhaps destroy the brain cells associated with the "high" it produces.
Cocaine May Be Responsible for Non-Fatal Heart Attacks in Young People ~ One quarter of non-fatal heart attacks among persons under the age of 45 in the United States can be attributed to regular cocaine use.
Cocaine-Related Psychiatric Disorders ~ Cocaine-induced disorders include the following: intoxication, withdrawal, intoxication delirium, psychotic disorder with delusions, psychotic disorder with hallucinations, mood disorder, anxiety disorder, sexual dysfunction, sleep disorder.
Cocaine Toxicity ~ The ancient Incas of Peru believed cocaine to be a gift from the gods. However, it is a modern-day curse to the emergency physician. The combined use of alcohol and cocaine is the most frequent reason for drug-related emergency department visits in the US and may be the major cause of drug-related deaths.
Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Cocaine Users: A Silent Epidemic ~ Up to one-third of cocaine users who thought they were healthy may be infected with hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can lead to chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver and even liver cancer. There is no cure or vaccine.
Is It Possible to Overdose by Sniffing Cocaine? ~ A fatal dose causes death in 100% of the cases. A lethal dose causes death in 50% of the cases. Some doctors estimate that 1.2 grams of cocaine, when used orally, and 750-800 milligrams, when used intravenously or by inhaling, is fatal. It is unknown how much cocaine is fatal or lethal when sniffed.
Your Brain on Cocaine ~ Chronic cocaine use harms brain circuits that help produce the sense of pleasure, which may help explain why cocaine addicts have a higher rate of depression.
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