Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a type of drug that functions to increase the availability of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is associated with the generation of 'euphoric' emotions, the regulation of movement, and the processing of reward cues. However, it is also associated with a considerable potential for dependence and abuse. Cocaine abuse is related to an increased risk of:

  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Disease
  • Death

Cocaine is attractive as a recreational substance due to the perceived positive effects on mood, motivation, and energy. Someone abusing cocaine may smoke, snort, or take it intravenously (via injection).

As a stimulant, cocaine heightens the awareness and the energy of the individual when used. There are primarily three ways cocaine is abused: injecting, smoking and the most popular method, snorting.

Why is cocaine addictive?

The addictive quality of cocaine is explained by how the brain processes chemicals when cocaine is present:

  • Dopamine is the receptor in the brain chiefly responsible for the experience of pleasure in the body.
  • In the brain's normal communication process, dopamine is released into the synapse, where it binds with dopamine receptors, and then is recycled back.
  • When cocaine is present, the normal dopamine recycling process is blocked.
  • The buildup of dopamine results in an influx of pleasure, which explains why cocaine is so addictive.

Are crack and cocaine the same thing?

Crack is a form of cocaine which is combined with other ingredients to create a crystalized form of the drug, which is smoked.

Signs & Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse

  • Hyperactivity
  • Agitation
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Unrestrained enthusiasm
  • Increased movement (i.e. hyperactivity)
  • Increased nose bleeds or runny nose, increased common colds
  • Noticeable personality changes from anxiety and paranoia to irritability
  • Changes in concentration and focus
  • Reckless behavior
  • Decreased need for sleep

Cocaine addiction occurs as a result of continuous use. The more it is abused, a higher tolerance to the drug is developed. For the addict, this means that in order to get the same result, more and more cocaine must be used. This results in addiction and greater health problems.

Cocaine addiction is a difficult issue to deal with, and it can be extremely difficult to overcome without the help of a drug rehabilitation program. Drug treatment can become a life saving measure when dealing with the long-term effects of cocaine abuse with what it does to the body.

High levels of the drug can increase risks of erratic behavior and psychosis, like anxiety or paranoia. Even the first-time use can lead to overdose, cardiac arrest or stroke. 

The most dangerous effect of cocaine use is when it is combined with alcohol. This combined usage results in the body manufacturing cocaethylene, which intensifies the euphoric effect of cocaine, and significantly increases the risk of death.

The long-term effects of cocaine include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Memory Loss
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Violent Outbursts
  • Weight Loss
  • Severe Dental Issues
  • Significant Alterations to Brain's Chemistry
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Cocaine abuse can frequently lead to cardiovascular (heart problems) and brain effects such as a stroke, seizures and in some cases comas.

Over time, the dopamine system of the brain is also affected and damaged by this abuse, due to the growingly high levels of toxicity in the brain. These high levels of toxicity can also lead to developing psychological complications. Common complications include anxiety, violent behaviors and paranoia.

Several years ago, brain scans could show the damage that was done to an individuals brain. Now we have the ability to use PrTMS, in combination with the EEG and treatment plan, to begin to repair those areas. 

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

When cocaine abuse is stopped, an addicted individual can experience withdrawal over a period of time. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense Cravings
  • Restlessness/Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Increased Appetite
  • Depression

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