Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant substance derived from the leaves of the South American coca plant. While health care workers are permitted to use for legitimate medical purposes, such as local anesthetic during some procedures, recreational use is forbidden. Cocaine as a street narcotic resembles a fine, white crystal powder. To enhance profits, street traffickers frequently combine it with cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour. Additionally, they may combine it with other substances such as the stimulant amphetamine or synthetic opioids like fentanyl. The addition of synthetic opioids to cocaine is especially deadly when users are unaware it includes this dangerous addition. Increased overdose deaths among users could be a result of this tainted cocaine.
How can individuals obtain?
Individuals snort cocaine powder or rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder and administer it intravenously. Certain individuals inject a mixture of cocaine and heroin known as a Speedball.
Another frequent way of consumption is to smoke that crystallizes (also called “freebase cocaine”). Heat applies to the crystal, which produces fumes that inhales into the lungs. This type is referred to as Crack, after the crackling sound made by the rock when heated. Additionally, some users smoke Crack by dusting it on marijuana or tobacco and inhaling it as they would a cigarette.
Cocaine users frequently engage in binges, in which they consume the drug repeatedly over a short period at increasing amounts.
What effect does cocaine have on the brain?
Cocaine elevates dopamine levels in brain circuitry associated with movement and reward.
Dopamine normally recycles back into the cell from whence it was released, thus shutting down the signal between nerve cells. On the other hand, stops dopamine from being recycled, accumulating enormous amounts in the gap between two nerve cells and interfering with their regular connection. This surge of dopamine in the reward circuit of the brain powerfully encourages drug-taking behaviour. Continuous drug usage may cause the reward circuit to adapt, making it less sensitive to the drug. As a result, individuals take higher and more frequent doses to achieve the same high and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Cocaine’s short-term health impacts include the following:
- great joy and vitality
- mental acuity
- hypersensitivity to visual, auditory, and tactile stimuli
- paranoia—an abnormal and irrational distrust of others
While some people report that it aids in performing easy physical and mental tasks, others report the reverse impact. Cocaine in large doses can result in weird, unpredictable, and violent behavior.
Cocaine’s effects are practically instantaneous and last between a few minutes and an hour. The duration and intensity of the effects vary dependent on the mode of use. Injecting or smoking creates a higher and more immediate high than snorting does. Snorting produces a 15- to 30-minute high. Smoking produces a 5- to 10-minute high.
What are the additional negative health consequences of use?
Additionally, cocaine consumption has the following negative health consequences:
- blood vessels constricted
- pupils that have dilated
- hyperthermia and hypertension (increased body temperature and blood pressure)
- pulse that is rapid or irregular
- shakes and twitches of muscle
The following are some long-term health impacts of cocaine that vary according to the method of use:
- snorting causes loss of smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and swallowing difficulties.
- Cigarette smoking causes coughs, asthma, respiratory discomfort, and an increased risk of pneumonia.
- ingesting via mouth: serious intestinal rot as a result of decreased blood flow
- Increased chance of developing HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases, as well as skin and soft tissue infections, scarring, and collapsed veins
Even non-needle cocaine users, however, put themselves at risk for HIV because it affects judgment, which can result in unsafe sexual conduct with HIV-positive partners (see “Cocaine, HIV, and Hepatitis” textbox).
Cocaine, HIV, and Hepatitis are all contagious diseases.
It use has demonstrates to accelerate HIV infection. Aaccording to study, affects immune cell function and boosts HIV multiplication. Additionally, research indicates that persons who use cocaine and are HIV-positive may be more susceptible to getting other infections, such as hepatitis C, a liver virus. More information regarding the link between cocaine and these disorders can be found in the NIDA’s Cocaine Research Report.
Other long-term impacts of cocaine usage include malnutrition, cocaine impairs appetite, and movement abnormalities, such as Parkinson’s disease, which can develop after years of use. Additionally, many express irritation and restlessness following cocaine binges, and others develop extreme paranoia. They lose contact with reality and experience auditory hallucinations—hearing noises that are not real.
Is it possible to overdose?
Yes, it is possible to overdose on cocaine. Overdosage happens when a person consumes a drug in sufficient quantity to cause severe adverse effects, life-threatening symptoms, or death. An overdose can occur intentionally or inadvertently.
Overdose death can occur at the initial use or abruptly after that. Many people who take also drink alcohol, which is extremely dangerous and can result in overdose. Others combine and heroin, a similarly dangerous — and lethal — combo.
Overdose has several serious health implications, including abnormal cardiac rhythm, heart attacks, seizures, and strokes. Additionally, overdose symptoms include trouble breathing, elevated blood pressure, elevated body temperature, hallucinations, and severe agitation or anxiety.
How do you handle a cocaine overdose?
No medication can reverse the effects of a cocaine overdose. Management entails supportive care and is symptom-specific. For example, because cocaine overdose frequently results in a heart attack, stroke, or seizure, first responders and emergency care physicians attempt to treat the overdose by addressing these illnesses.
How is cocaine consumption associated with addiction?
As with other drugs, persistent cocaine use can result in long-term alterations to the reward circuit and other brain systems, resulting in addiction. The reward circuit gradually becomes insensitive to the drug’s increased dopamine levels. As a result, individuals take higher and more frequent doses to achieve the same high they experienced initially and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- heightened appetite
- nightmares and insomnia
- slowed reasoning
How may individuals seeking therapy for cocaine addiction do so?
To treat the addiction, behavioral therapy may be employed. Several examples include the following:
- psychotherapy with a cognitive-behavioral component
- contingency management or motivating incentives—rewarding patients who maintain their substance-free status
- Therapeutic communities—drug-free houses where individuals recovering from substance use disorders assist one another in comprehending and changing their behaviors
- recovery organizations established in the community, such as 12-step programs
While there are currently no FDA-approved drugs to treat cocaine use disorder, NIDA actively encourages the development of a comprehensive pipeline of medications in this field.
Consider the Following:
- It is a highly addictive stimulant substance derived from the leaves of the South American coca plant.
- To enhance profits, street traffickers frequently combine it with cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour.
Additionally, they may combine it with other substances like as amphetamine or the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
Individuals snort cocaine powder or rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder and inject it directly into the bloodstream, or inject a speedball, a combination of cocaine and heroin. Smoking Crack cocaine is another prevalent technique of consumption.