Cocaine is one of many drugs initially developed to be used medically. However, such medications may also be prone to abuse. This is why questions of how to overcome cocaine addiction are popular in Canada.
While some drugs are hugely beneficial and helpful in treating certain illnesses, some are highly addictive. Cocaine is one such drug. When a person becomes addicted to this substance, he or she will eventually face harmful consequences. So, before things get worse, it is important to know how to overcome coke addiction.
Cocaine has a way of locking itself in someone’s life. It replaces everything else with an irrational need to use the substance. A person who is addicted has one single thought: to get as much cocaine as possible for his own use. Predominantly, coke is used in the United States and South America. At present, Canada is also experiencing an increasing number of coke users.
Aside from tobacco, marijuana, and alcohol, cocaine addiction is one of the most common drug-related problems in the world. It is causing mental health, emotional, health, and financial problems in many people in Canada. Substance use leads to extensive costs to society including lost productivity and resources used to treat cocaine addiction.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is powerfully addictive. It comes from coca leaves, which have been used by South Americans for their stimulating effects since thousands of years ago. The purified form is cocaine hydrochloride, and a hundred years ago, it was isolated from the coca plant.
During the 1900s, this purified form of cocaine became an ingredient in many elixirs and tonics used in treating different kinds of illnesses. And yes, it was even used in the drink Coca-Cola in its early years. Before synthetic local anesthetic was developed, surgeons made use of cocaine in patients to block the pain.
As more and more studies of cocaine became available, it was found out that it is a highly addictive substance. Using cocaine changes the way the brain functions when used repeatedly.
At present, cocaine is known as a Schedule II medication. It means that a physician may administer cocaine for medical purposes. Some examples include surgeries in the throat, ears, and eyes.
Cocaine is prone to abuse, as it is very addictive. As an illicit substance, cocaine is a crystalline powder that is both fine and white. Its other names include Blow, Powder, Snow, C, and Coke. Cocaine is also called crack, and it is because of the crackling sound it creates when it is smoked.
Dealers of this drug often dilute cocaine with baking soda, flour, talcum powder, or cornstarch so that they’ll profit more out of it. They may also add amphetamine, procaine, and other drugs to cocaine. For some users, they add cocaine with heroin. This is known as Speedball.
Cocaine that’s being used illegally has 2 chemical forms. One form is the water-soluble hydrochloride salt. The other form is the water-insoluble cocaine base. The first form is usually injected or snorted by the user since it is in powder form.
The second form is made through a process where cocaine is mixed with baking soda or ammonia and water. It is then heated so that the hydrochloride is removed. It can then be a substance that can be smoked.
Is Cocaine Addictive?
The evidence is clear on this topic, cocaine is highly addictive. It is among the most addictive illicit substances, including heroin, nicotine, methadone, meth, and barbiturates. Individuals can quickly become addicted to cocaine and suffer from negative adverse effects as a result.
When a person repeatedly uses cocaine, he or she develops a tolerance for it and physical dependence. If they stop using cocaine, withdrawal symptoms will emerge. If cocaine is used continually, they will fall deeper into addiction, which can have adverse consequences on health. Here are some examples of cocaine’s addictive properties.
- Coke can cause euphoric highs that are quick and don’t last very long.
- After the high from using coke has passed, the person will feel depressed and low. This leads the person to use more of it to get back to the pleasurable feeling they get from using cocaine.
- Regardless of the method that coke is consumed, it can cause excess dopamine stimulation in the brain. This results in euphoric feelings that encourage the person to use the substance continuously.
Still wondering if cocaine is addictive, here are the numbers where cocaine addiction in Canada is concerned.
- 2% of residents in British Columbia have used cocaine actively
- 8% of residents in Ontario have used cocaine or crack in their lifetime
- For Nova Scotia, 11.7% of residents in this city have used cocaine actively.
What is Cocaine Addiction?
A person is addicted to cocaine when he or she can no longer control his or her use of cocaine. This means that even if they want to stop, they can’t. They’re hooked to the substance. Even when cocaine is already causing a person harm or distressed, once the addiction sets in, it becomes challenging to stop.
Recreational use of cocaine doesn’t immediately mean that a person is addicted to it. However, it will eventually develop an addiction. The consumption of the substance becomes more compulsive. A user can start experiencing intense cravings for cocaine, spending most of their time and resources getting the substance and using it. In doing so, they tend to neglect their responsibilities to continue to use the drug.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms often make it hard to get help and recover from addiction. Quitting cocaine requires supportive addiction treatment, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications.
What are the Effects of Cocaine on the Body?
With cocaine use, there are short-term and long-term effects on the body. When a person uses cocaine, they can feel an intense high, but when that dies down, it is followed by an intense opposite feeling, which is depression. This leads to a strong craving for more of the substance.
People using cocaine can often go for a period of time without sleeping or eating properly. They experience an increased heart rate, convulsions, and muscle spasms. Constant cocaine use can make a person more anxious, angry, hostile, and paranoid. And this is something that they can experience even if they are not high.
It doesn’t matter how much cocaine is being used or how frequent the intake is. Cocaine can increase the risk for the person using it to suffer from a seizure, stroke, respiratory failure, and heart attack. This can result in sudden death for the user.
For the long-term effects of cocaine use, the person who uses it will have increased tolerance. They will need more and more of it to experience the same kind of high that they felt the first time they used it. When cocaine is used daily, the user will feel a loss of appetite and sleep deprivation. Consequently, this causes a person to become psychotic and have hallucinations.
Cocaine can interfere with how the brain can process chemicals. To feel “normal,” the person needs more of it to function in some sense. As the person becomes addicted, the activities that they once enjoyed become uninteresting for them. Their main source of gratification is using cocaine.
The damages that using coke can inflict on a person is not limited to the individual using the substance. If the person using cocaine is a pregnant woman, there can be very harmful consequences to how the fetus develops. The child may have deficits when it comes to its cognitive performance.
What is Cocaine Withdrawal?
It is quite impossible to have a conversation about how to overcome cocaine addiction without talking about cocaine withdrawal. This is because this particular situation is bound to happen in the process of receiving cocaine addiction treatment.
If you are unfamiliar with the term, you should know that cocaine withdrawal, like that of any other drug, is a combination of physical, mental, and behavioural symptoms that show up when one stops consuming the drug. These withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. So much so that some patients need to be under direct medical supervision during this process.
Sounds intense? Well, that’s because it is. Other “safe” drugs like marijuana may not pose this much danger to your existence.
But cocaine does quite a number on you. What causes it, though? Why is it so difficult to simply get up and quit cocaine without dealing with these symptoms? Let’s find out.
Causes of Cocaine Withdrawal
Just before we get into how to overcome cocaine addiction, allow us to explain why withdrawals even happen in the first place properly.
As you probably already know, cocaine is a stimulant. The scientific terms behind it might be long and overly complicated if you’re not a doctor. But, the drug essentially stimulates the production of your happy hormones, with the primary hormone being dopamine. This hormone is responsible for making you feel good and happy when you achieve something or do something you like.
Instead of allowing it to come naturally when you take cocaine, you stimulate its production regardless of the time and place. However, because of cocaine’s addictive nature, you’re not likely to stop after just one hit.
So, you keep going again and again until “the last time” becomes one out of multiple sessions of drug abuse. After repeating cocaine for a while, your body will become used to having higher levels of dopamine because your brain chemistry is essentially different from before.
However, paradoxically, it will develop a tolerance level to the drug. This means that you’ll constantly want cocaine, but you’ll always need more and more of it just to get that level of high you had before.
Like many other abusers, you’re likely to keep feeding these cravings. Eventually, your brain will not quite be able to produce the needed levels of dopamine. At this point, your body is dependent on it, and for you to feel normal, you need to be constantly high.
Because your brain depends on the drug now, taking it away will cause what you can call a chemical protest where your body gives uncomfortable signs that you “need” the drug.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
When trying to stop using, individuals often develop a collection of negative and harmful symptoms, such as:
- The person can feel so depressed and deprived
- Increased appetite
- Unpleasant and vivid dreams
- Discomfort and unease
- Some may even commit crimes just to get cocaine for their next high
- If they cannot get a hold of the substance, they may experience a very severe kind of depression that can lead them to commit suicide due to cocaine withdrawal.
Cocaine withdrawal can be difficult to address, but there are treatment options out there. With the proper treatment, these symptoms can be managed, and the chances of returning to drug abuse can be reduced. Research has shown that reducing withdrawal symptoms is a major center of the recovery process. The detox process can be highly unpleasant, but it does not have to be done alone, so get help.
Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline: How Long Does it Take?
The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can vary but generally follow this pattern:
First 1-3 hours
Symptoms emerge shortly after consumption ends. Individuals may feel anxious, fatigued, irritable, and have an increased appetite. Craving cocaine does not yet begin during this time.
Cocaine cravings arise and increase in intensity. Exhaustion continues but is combined with difficulty falling asleep and unpleasant dreams. Individuals often feel depressive mood swings.
Depressed mood and intense craving continue. Difficulty concentrating is common, along with an uneven mood and mental state. People often feel severe irritability and agitation.
Individuals begin to recover and feel more normal. Withdrawal symptoms diminish but cravings may persist. Individuals often feel anxious and uneasy throughout this period.
Factors Influencing the Timeline of Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
With cocaine withdrawal, some people may scale through in a few weeks. For some, it may take significantly longer. Here are some factors that make that so:
- Length of drug use. The longer you’ve used the drug, the longer your withdrawal symptoms might last.
- The average dose of each use. Those who use large doses may experience longer withdrawal timelines, unlike their smaller dosed counterparts.
- Use of multiple drugs. Combining coke with other hard drugs could increase the timeline.
- Visiting former cocaine-inducing environments can cause cravings to come back.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?
Since cocaine is a very addictive substance that can change how the brain works if it is being used regularly, the user can have difficulty quitting without the needed help and support from health care professionals and the person’s loved ones. To prevent further harm from using cocaine, it is important that the warning signs of cocaine addiction can be immediately identified.
When a person uses cocaine, they can notice the effect of the substance quickly. However, it will also fade fast, ranging from five minutes to half an hour. It depends on how the drug was consumed and how fast it was absorbed into the person’s bloodstream.
Cocaine can create the feeling of being high because it can block dopamine from getting recycled. This means that artificially, it can increase dopamine’s activity and makes the person feel euphoric.
When a person is high, they can be overly excited and talkative. They have a high level of self-confidence and few inhibitions. They don’t find the need to eat or sleep when they are under the drug’s influence.
But when the effects of the substance diminish, the person can feel the exact opposite. They may notice the need to eat or sleep more. They are depressed and irritable without the drug. Since cocaine’s effects are quick to disappear, a person who’s becoming more and more addicted to it can use it in a binge pattern. They can take one dose after another.
Long-Term Signs and Symptoms
Individuals who continue to use cocaine generally experience a variety of negative outcomes. Examples include:
- Users may also take higher and higher doses of cocaine
- Individuals feel irritable, angry, hostile, and violent
- They may experience anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Co-use of Other Illicit Substances
If cocaine is being used along with alcohol or other drugs, there may be psychological and physical side effects that can be noticed. It is very common for individuals to use more than one illicit drug. This co-use of drugs leads to an increased risk of adverse effects.
For example, the example above, called “Speedball” which is a combination of cocaine and heroin, can have contrasting effects. Cocaine is known to be a stimulant, while heroin is a depressant for the central nervous system. A person taking this combination may have problems moving around, has blurred vision, problems with sleeping, and lack of appetite.
Cocaine Overdose Risks
When cocaine is taken in large amounts or together with alcohol or other drugs, overdose can happen. The risk of other harmful consequences is also increased. An overdose happens when too much of the substance is consumed, and the body can no longer handle it. The drug will reach the bloodstream at toxic levels.
Some signs of cocaine overdose to watch out for are increased body temperature and blood pressure, seizures, tremors, increased heart rate, vomiting, nausea, and chest pain. When a person has an overdose, he or she can suffer a heart attack or stroke. These are medical emergencies, and anyone noticing these signs on a person should immediately call for help from medical professionals.
Credited to: Addictionrehabtoronto