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Why the effects of cocaine addiction are devastating to individuals and society and how to treat it
In 2014, a report came out naming London the cocaine capital of Europe. The water system contains a higher concentration of this drug than in any other part of the continent, cocaine detox centers that provide cocaine treatment and help people detox from cocaine have been popping up around the country like mushrooms, and bank notes are no longer tested for traces of cocaine. British police feel the test is a waste of time, as any money that has been in circulation for a few weeks will have traces of cocaine. Although it is estimated that a large majority of the drugs being sold as cocaine don’t actually contain the drug, this is still of concern, as addiction is a problem for many people who try this substance.
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What Exactly Is Cocaine?
Cocaine, or benzoylmethylecgonine, is derived from the leaves of the coca plant grown in South America. It is a stimulant that is usually harvested in Mexico before being shipped to different parts of the globe. Sold as a fine, white powder, cocaine is a psychoactive drug that is very addictive, and the high derived from using the drug can last for minutes or hours. In addition, it may be combined with other chemicals and then cooked to bring about a hard form of the drug that is referred to as crack or crack cocaine. The difference between crack coke is that hydrochloride has been chemically removed, which then allows for a higher melting point and hence the ability to be smoked.
How Is Cocaine Used?
When people think of coke and hear about cocaine addiction stories, they often imagine a person snorting it. This is one reason why traces of the drug are commonly found on money in the country. This isn’t the only way it may be used, however, as some people choose to inject it or smoke it. When a person wishes to inject cocaine, they mix the drug with a soluble substance, such as water, to create a new material that is similar to liquid in many ways. This substance may then be injected intravenously with the help of a needle. Crack cocaine is often smoked through a glass pipe, yet there are other methods of smoking the drug also, and the method of use is a matter of personal preference or convenience. People also mix cocaine with alcohol, which forms cocaethylene in the liver. This causes the effects of cocaine to last a lot longer.
How Does Cocaine Work?
As the cocaine enters the user’s system through the bloodstream, numerous changes take place within the brain. Neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the brain, are designed to communicate with each other. Coke interferes with the production of certain neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and others, and stops them from being reabsorbed. As a result, the neurotransmitters build up in the brain, which is what leads to the high users are after.
The Effects of Cocaine
So how long does coke last? The amount of time a person remains high after using cocaine ranges from a few minutes to a few hours. This depends on the form that was used, the amount, the potency and numerous other things. People who choose to use crack cocaine typically find the euphoric feeling is very brief, thus they must use large amounts of the drug to ensure they don’t experience a crash.
Once the cocaine enters the system, the entire body begins to speed up and the user finds they have an abundance of energy. Often, this brings about feelings of excitement or happiness, and many users state they feel they have more power. As the effects of the drug begin to wear off, however, the user often becomes angry, nervous, irritable, afraid or tired, and these effects can continue for a few hours. In rare cases, the person may develop a psychosis that may last for an extended period of time, possibly days, weeks or even months.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction and Symptoms
So how to tell if someone is sniffing coke? Determining if someone is using coke isn’t always easy. There are certain signs a person can look for if they suspect someone they know is using the substance. Following are a few things to look for.
Becoming Addicted to Coke
As time passes, a coke user often finds they develop a tolerance and need more of the drug to achieve the same high. The user then becomes addicted and may find it hard to quit. Many people say it is easier to quit using cocaine than it is to quit using prescription drugs or heroin, but a coke addiction often has long term psychological effects for the user.
Long term effects may include a lack of interest, a change in their overall demeanour or psychological issues. Some users find they are no longer able to be happy without the drug, and users may become chronically depressed. Individuals often state they have a lack of appeal, and there are numerous health issues that are associated with cocaine use. This includes heart problems, gum disease and permanent brain damage, among others.
Why is Cocaine so Dangerous?
People often discount the dangers of coke, and this can be a mistake. Coke isn’t used for medicinal purposes, thus there is no level of use that may be considered safe. In addition, street drugs, of which cocaine is one, aren’t regulated, thus there is no way to know if a person is actually using cocaine or another substance. This is a major concern in the United Kingdom.
NCA, a national law enforcement agency in the country, states two tiers of cocaine are currently being sold in the United Kingdom. Those looking to save money when purchasing drugs may opt for what is referred to as bashed up street cocaine or cocaine that is mixed with another substance. In the past, cocaine would often be mixed with an inert substance, such as glucose, but that has changed. Suppliers now mix the cocaine with either phenacetin or benzocaine, as they both have a similar appearance to cocaine and supply the same numbness felt with the drug. As a result, there are currently drugs on the street that are said to be cocaine, yet actually contain little, if any, of the actual drug. A user cannot truly know what they are putting into the body or how it will affect them.
The Effects of Cocaine on Health
A person can never know how they will react to cocaine. A person may have a heart attack or stroke following use of the drug, and some users develop heart disease, experience an abnormal heart rhythm or end up with lung damage. Violent behaviour has been reported with cocaine use, and high blood pressure can be an issue. Kidney failure, liver damage, damage to the sinus cavities and ulcers have all been seen with use of this drug and some patients find they aren’t able to perform sexually. Furthermore, use of the substance may lead to an overdose or death, as there is no safe way to consume the drug.
People who regularly use cocaine may find they become addicted to it. Once a person becomes addicted, they often find it hard to quit without cocaine addiction treatment and a detox from cocaine. Relationships may suffer, financial difficulties can arise and health problems are often seen. In addition, a person may find they have legal troubles thanks to their drug use. A person’s life can easily be ruined and the lives of those around them if help isn’t sought in a timely manner.
Ending the Addiction
One reason people find it difficult to stop using cocaine is the withdrawal of the substance comes with negative side effects. Users may feel anxious or depressed, and fatigue could be a problem. Some individuals find they experience physical aches and pains or tremors and chills, and many state they are unable to concentrate or feel any pleasure. The craving for cocaine increases during this time also.
Seek out cocaine treatment when suicidal thoughts develop
Although there aren’t serious medical consequences of stopping cocaine use, for the vast majority of users, some people develop suicidal thoughts. Professional help needs to be sought immediately for individuals in this situation. Most users, however, find the withdrawal symptoms disappear in a week or two. The craving for the drug can come back at any time though, even years after the person quits using the drug which is why getting cocaine treatment is vital for anyone with an addiction to the drug.
Individuals must find a facility like a cocaine rehab that is trained to deal with people who are addicted to cocaine. Certain therapies have been shown to be of help in facilitating cocaine treatment with these people.
A good cocaine rehab would require a detox from cocaine before rehabilitation can begin
Getting a cocaine detox is usually the first step as a detox from cocaine is needed before any rehabilitation can begin. A cocaine rehab should have the facilities to provide a cocaine detox if their patients require it. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is also one method that may be used, and some facilities make use of motivational incentives for those who stop using cocaine. A residential program is often helpful to those struggling to overcome their addiction to the drug.
Cocaine is no longer a drug used only by the wealthy and celebrities. Individuals of every age, income and social class may turn to this drug to obtain a high. In fact, almost 10 percent of individuals between the ages of 16 and 59 have used this drug at some point in their life, according to a report compiled by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. Furthermore, more than 18 percent of individuals surveyed in 2013/2014 stated they used cocaine powder in the prior year.
Any use of the drug needs to be taken seriously. If a loved one is suspected of having an addiction to cocaine, seek help to get cocaine addiction treatment immediately. It only takes one use to permanently harm or kill someone, thus this is a problem that should never be taken lightly. Help is available in many forms. It’s simply a matter of finding the right program for the individual.
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ARC clients make it!
"If I didn't come here & do this treatment, I don't think I'd be on this earth now."
- John, free from alcohol & drugs for 3 years at time of review