Cocaine


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Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that can be ingested in several ways. The 2 main forms of cocaine are powder cocaine and crack cocaine. It produces an immediate, euphoric high. 

The powder form of cocaine is often used intranasally. It can also be dissolved in water and used intravenously. (When used intravenously, it is sometimes combined with heroin. This is called a “speedball”.) 

cocaine addiction

Crack cocaine, on the other hand, is processed or mixed with other things like baking soda and water to make it a smokable substance. (Incidentally, crack’s name comes from the crackling sound it makes when smoked.)  

Because cocaine’s euphoric effects can be felt immediately but wear off almost as fast, the brain will quickly adapt and begin to demand more. Physical addiction is already underway.

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Here are some signs you might be struggling with cocaine abuse:

  • Using it on a regular basis, as opposed to occasionally in a social situation  
  • Racing heart 
  • Chest pain  
  • Nosebleeds 
  • Thinning nose cartilage  
  • Manic behavior 
  • Making impulsive decisions 
  • Feeling aggressive  
  • Severe depression on the “come down”  
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss 
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Using significant time, energy, and financial resources to ensure you won’t run out

Behavioral Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine abuse can be a challenging thing to treat. It doesn’t have many of the readily obvious features of alcohol or heroin abuse; someone high on cocaine might appear to just be highly energetic, worked up, or irritable. Cocaine is also a party drug, and some people are able to use it very sporadically without becoming physically addicted. It can be difficult to know when the line from choice to dependence has been crossed. 

 
Impulsive behavior, aggression, and manic energy are common symptoms of cocaine addiction. Deeper into cocaine abuse, people lost the trust of their loved ones, engage in high-risk behavior, lose weight unintentionally, and sometimes become dangerously depressed—even suicidal—when the cocaine wears off.  

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Physical Effects of Cocaine

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Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant. It works on the brain’s dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitters, leading to feelings of increased happiness or satisfaction and heightened fight-or-flight responses.  

Depending on the route of ingestion, cocaine abuse can cause a number of physical issues, including loss of smell, chronic nosebleeds, difficulty swallowing, headaches, strokes, and seizures. 

In severe cases, heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, and respiratory failure can occur. (Cocaine has actually been described as a “perfect heart attack drug” because even the healthiest heart can malfunction under its influence.)

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Read more about the levels of care we offer on our substance abuse treatment page.

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