Cocaine is one of the most abused stimulants in the United States. It is also responsible for the most emergency room visits of any illicit drug. The 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that there were 1.6 million cocaine users in the United States. While cocaine abuse and addiction appears to be on the decline, cocaine remains an addictive, potentially dangerous drug. Anyone suffering from cocaine addiction would benefit from a professional addiction treatment program.
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is derived from the coca plant. It stimulates the central nervous system by increasing levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) to cause feelings of euphoria, increase alertness and reduce appetite. It can also increase feelings of sexuality. Negative side effects include anxiety, restlessness and paranoia. Effects last around 45 minutes. Using in excess can cause tremors, convulsions and coma. While cocaine is not generally considered to be physically addictive, it causes psychological cravings and serious addiction.
Physiologically, there is actually no difference between crack cocaine and regular, powder cocaine. Both produce the same effects on the body by increasing dopamine levels in the central nervous system. The difference between the two is half-life. Half-life is a measure of how long the drug remains active in the individual’s body. Crack cocaine has a much shorter half-life than regular cocaine (15 minutes versus 45 minutes, approximately). The effects of crack cocaine wear off more quickly, meaning the individual has to continually take more and more of the drug. The effects of crack are believed to be felt within the first 15 seconds of smoking it, whereas it can take 10 to 15 minutes just to feel the effects of regular cocaine. Crack is also a more pure form of cocaine, so the effects are more pronounced. For all of these reasons, crack is considered to be the more addictive form of cocaine.
There are a variety of negative side effects associated with cocaine use. Some short-term side effects include:
Long-term effects of cocaine abuse can be serious and potentially life-threatening. These include:
Of all the illicit drugs, cocaine users have some of the highest association with behaviors and environments. This can increase the risk for cocaine overdose. Studies have shown that if a person uses cocaine in the same place, at the same time and under the same circumstances, they become accustomed to the effects and can appear tolerant. The individual can use more and more of the drug and experience similar effects because they have conditioned their body to anticipate the ingestion of cocaine in that particular environment.
Most cocaine overdoses occur in an unfamiliar location. What happens is, the individual, thinking they have developed a tolerance to the cocaine, use a large amount in a location unfamiliar to them. The body does not anticipate the consumption of the cocaine because it has not been conditioned to do so under those particular circumstances. The cocaine overwhelms the body and the person overdoses. Cocaine is a drug that shows one of the h2est links between behavioral and environmental circumstances.
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