People in South America have been ingesting and chewing coca leaves for their stimulant properties for thousands of years. As a Schedule II substance that may be prescribed for valid medical reasons, cocaine has a significant potential for misuse. Dealers dilute cocaine with non-psychoactive ingredients like cornstarch, talcum powder, flour, or baking soda to maximize their earnings.
Snorting cocaine powder or rubbing it into the gums are standard methods for taking the drug. Some people mix the powder with water and administer it intravenously. Others inject a Speedball, which is a mixture of cocaine and heroin.
Cocaine that has been transformed into a rock crystal and smoked is another standard route of consumption (also called "freebase cocaine"). As the crystal heats up, fumes form that are breathed. Crack is the name given to this kind of cocaine because of its cracking sound when heated.
The crack may also be smoked like a cigarette by sprinkling it over marijuana or tobacco. When users smoke cocaine, they inhale its vapor or smoke into the lungs, where absorption is almost as quick as an injection.
Depending on the individual, a wide range of patterns may be seen in cocaine, from occasional usage to repetitive or obsessive use. It's common for cocaine users to take the drug several times in a short period, at progressively greater dosages, to sustain their high.
What are the Effects of Cocaine on the Brain?
A natural chemical messenger, dopamine, is elevated in brain circuits that regulate movement and reward when cocaine is taken. A typical function of dopamine is to return to the original cell from which it was released, cutting off communication between them.
Cocaine, on the other hand, blocks the recycling of dopamine, accumulating considerable quantities in the gap between two nerve cells, preventing natural transmission. The surge of dopamine in the brain's reward circuit supports drug-taking habits.
Continual drug use may alter the reward circuit, making it less responsive to the drug. Because of this, individuals take higher and more frequent dosages to get the same high and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Use Disorder
Using cocaine for an extended period may lead to a condition known as cocaine use disorder (CUD). Even if it causes you physical or social issues, you can't quit. It's also known as cocaine addiction or cocaine abuse.
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the following could be warning signs of cocaine use:
- Regularly needing money
- Having bloodshot eyes
- Loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities, family, or school
- Irregularly sleeping or eating habits
- Careless about personal appearance, social withdrawal, or being depressed
- Behavior changes
- New friends
There are immediate and cumulative effects of using cocaine. Short-term consequences include:
- Blurred vision, fever, chest discomfort, and convulsions, with some resulting in death, brain failure, nausea, heart failure, or muscle spasms
- Rapid breathing and heartbeat
- Aggressive or erratic conduct
- Raised body temperature and blood pressure
Long-term effects include:
- Severe respiratory infections
- Respiratory failure, abdominal and chest pain, heart attacks, nausea, and strokes
- Weight loss, restlessness, sleeplessness, paranoia, mood swings, and irritability
- Elevated risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis
- Paranoia, psychosis, and anxiety
- Inflamed nasal passages and nostril damage
- Isolation and emotional instability
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Diagnosis of Cocaine Use Disorder
Cocaine abuse is categorized as a stimulant-related condition. Cocaine, amphetamine, or other stimulant use that results in clinically significant impairment or suffering over 12 months may qualify for a diagnosis of stimulant-related disorders, according to DSM-5, if at least two of the following criteria are met:
- The stimulant is used in more significant quantities or for more extended periods than intended
- Efforts to reduce or limit the use of stimulants have been ineffective in the past
- To get the inspiration, use it, or recover from its effects takes a lot of time
- A strong urge to grab the stimulant
- Recurring usage of stimulants that compromises one's ability to do other duties
- Involvement in significant social, professional, or recreational activities has been reduced or ceased because of stimulant usage.
- Stimulant usage regularly, despite the physical risks
- Persisting in the use of the stimulant despite the issues it causes or worsens
- Despite being aware of the stimulant's potential for bodily or psychological harm, continuing to use it
- Tolerance is defined as the need for markedly increased amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effect
- Stimulant withdrawal, whether via the presence of withdrawal symptoms or the usage of a stimulant or a replacement to alleviate or prevent withdrawal symptoms, is one manifestation of withdrawal
Methods of Treatment for Cocaine Use Disorder
Nearly 6% of all substance misuse treatment admissions in 2013 were for cocaine. There are currently no FDA-approved medicines for this condition. Neurobiological targets are being studied as researchers explore new methods to treat CUD. It has been proven that Disulfiram, a drug used to treat alcoholism, may help reduce cocaine consumption.
To avoid relapse, a vaccination for cocaine might help stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that bind to cocaine, blocking it from entering the brain. By increasing the intensity of binding to cocaine and eliciting antibodies, researchers aim to enhance the vaccine.
Motivational incentives are a behavioral treatment that has shown promising benefits in patients with cocaine use problems. To avoid relapse, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a recommended treatment choice. This technique assists patients in developing essential skills that facilitate long-term sobriety.
In addition to being used alone, CBT may be used with other therapies to provide the most effective treatment. Additionally, studies have demonstrated that CBT4CBT (computer-based training for CBT) may be used in conjunction with weekly treatment to increase abstinence rates.
Recovery from a drug use problem might be made more accessible with aftercare programs. Self-help and commitment to abstinence have been shown to increase the likelihood of recovery. Psychologists have demonstrated promising outcomes using telephone-based therapy as a low-cost approach to delivering post-treatment care.
Cocaine use disorder can cause negative physical, mental, and social consequences. Treatment for CUD is a vital part of the recovery process. Without treatment, the cravings for cocaine can become more substantial, and it can be challenging to break free from addiction. Wish Recovery is one of the best rehabs in the country, and we’re here to help you or someone you love struggling with cocaine use disorder. Contact our treatment specialists today to learn how.
Contact us today to learn more about our rehab programs and how we can help you get on the road to recovery.