In the earlier decades, cocaine was proven to have medical benefits especially for anesthetic purposes. It was used by medical professionals to numb certain body parts before medical procedures like wound cleaning and stitching. However, like some drugs that have come with positive health benefits, cocaine has also been proven to have negative effects to human health, especially when cocaine abuse comes into the equation.
The drug has become associated with addicts who belong to higher-income status, and this is why over the years, cocaine has been known as an expensive way of getting high.
What sets the difference of cocaine from any other drugs we know of? Here are the things you need to know:
What is cocaine?
An illegal drug that is a potent stimulant, cocaine comes in fine crystals and is more commonly known as coke, crack, snow, blow, rock, nose candy, or marching powder. It is extracted and produced from the leaves of coca, a plant that is native to South America, and used to be primarily produced as a a painkiller drug. In the ancient times, people used to consider coca as a gift of gods to humans because of the benefits they get from the plant.
At present, producers of the drug usually mix cocaine with talc, starch, or flour to further increase their profits. Some also combine it with amphetamines to make the mixture more addictive.
As a recreational drug, cocaine is commonly rubbed into the gums, sniffed or smoked in its powdered form. Some cocaine users who have severe addiction to the drug dilute it with water and opt to inject it to direct the drug into the bloodstream and hasten its effects. Injecting the drug enables the user to get a stronger and faster euporic effect.
However, it is a fact that cocaine can quickly go into the bloodstream, and injecting it can increase the possibility of the user to suffer from the negative health effects it can cause.
In the United States, cocaine is the second most commonly used illegal drug next to marijuana. It has also been considered one of the most frequently reported drugs that cause a large number of deaths.
Why is cocaine addictive?
People always look for something that will make them feel lighter and happier—this is exactly what cocaine can do to one’s body. However, the thrill that comes with using it can cause so much harm to the user.
Cocaine is a drug that causes increased production of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that signals pleasure and movement. The reason why the drug is so addictive is because users continue to long for the feeling of high it causes.
Drug addicts have their reasons for doing drugs, and the feeling that cocaine causes saves them from whatever they are facing. Cocaine causes the user to feel detached from his or her surroundings because of the euphoric feeling it produces.
Similar to other illicit drugs, cocaine causes the user to get higher doses of the drug each time in order to achieve the feeling of euphoria. As cocaine primarily reacts with the chemical processes in the brain, the user gets continuously hooked and becomes dependent on the drug.
Increased and long-term use of the drug results to the decrease in dopamine production, causing the user to feel depressed, drained, moody, and anxious. The whole process tricks the user to take in higher doses of the drug to make him or her feel high again.
Signs of cocaine abuse
Cocaine causes an intense feeling of euphoria that quickly turns into depression once the effect subsides. Because of this, the user will be trapped in the cycle because once the depression kicks in, he or she will begin to keep asking for higher doses of the drug.
The effect can be very dangerous for the user and for the people around him or her because cocaine addicts tend to become moody, hostile, or violent. This is because cocaine interferes with the normal processes of the brain, as it disrupts with its normal system.
The short-term effects of cocaine addiction include loss of appetite, nausea, sleep deprivation, difficulty breathing, dilation of pupils, tooth decay, increased heart rate, increased body temperature, panic attacks, agitation, fatigue and seizures.
Meanwhile, long-term effects include weight loss, severe depression, hallucination, disorientation, psychosis, damaged blood vessels in the brain, heart, and other organs, liver and kidney failure, respiratory illneses, reproductive illneses, among others.
Dangers of cocaine abuse
Cocaine was not listed under Schedule II type of drugs for nothing. It poses health risks to the user, and even danger to the society. Once a person gets exposed to the use of cocaine, he or she is automatically put at a higher risk of heart ailments (such as stroke or seizures), respiratory illneses, or even death.
Like any other illicit drugs, cocaine also commonly causes psychiatric issues such as paranoia and severe hallucinations.
In general, the brain does not function well in all cases of drug abuse. This puts the user’s life and danger, as well as the lives of his or her family, friends, and people who come into contact with the user. Because of the loss of control and detachment from reality, cocaine users would tend to do impulsively.
The use of drugs is dangerous for everybody, but the risks are amplified when the involved is pregnant. The woman gets greater possibility to suffer from postpartum depression or psychosis. Birth defects such as anemia, malnutrition, and infection may be suffered by the fetus.
When someone decides to start anew from drug addiction, a person goes through withdrawal syndrome such as difficutly in concentrating, physical and mental fatigue, physical signs such as tremors, chills, and body pain. Sometimes, a person may also have suicidal tendecies during the process.
Deciding to quit from cocaine abuse is usually as hard as getting through the challenge of relapsing, and this is one of the dangers of drug addiction in general. When one relapses, the user tends to take in large amounts of the drug. Usually, this shocks the body systems especially when the person has not taken in the drug for months.
Large amounts of cocaine can quickly disrupt the normal processes in the body, and this increases the health risks and possibility of death of the user.
How to help someone with a cocaine abuse problem
It is best to let the user’s family decide on what program will be best for him or her to recover from cocaine addiction. The family’s realization that a family member is the first step in any type of treatment is extremely important.
Here are some tips that can help people whose friend of family member is under cocaine addiction:
Know and understand cocaine
It always helps to know what kind of battle you are planning to conquer. Understanding what cocaine does to one’s body will give you a better overview of what someone is going through.
Do your research by readings books, online journals, or by consulting with specialists. When a drug addict finally acknowledges the problem, it will be easier for you to explain the things that can happen out of his or her decision to quit using the drug.
Keep your communication lines open
Usually, drug addicts try doing drugs because they feel lonely. When a family member is going through drug addiction, make sure that you are doing your best to reach out and initiate the discussion of what is currently happening.
While this works best even before the onset of addiction, you should still make the person feel that he or she is not alone. Communication is always an effective way of helping someone make plans for the better.
Create a motivational incentives within your home
Motivational incentive strategy works best in the earlier stage of cocaine addiction. However, the cocaine user should be consulted first before doing this so that it would not look like you are only doing this because the user is interested to get the incentives you are offering.
The user should be mindful of his or her decision to quit using the drug, and this strategy will greatly help in the process.
Seek help from specialists
If you think that a drug addiction case needs intervention, then maybe you are absolutely right. Consulting a specialist to help your family member succeed the battle of drug addiction can be the best decisiojn you can make. A specialist will be able to create a good treatment program for someone who needs help.
Cocaine Detection and Testing
Because it is a foreign substance, cocaine is easily detected in the human body. These days, cocaine detection is conveniently accomplished by using a wide variety of testing methods. These testing procedures may use any of the following samples: hair, blood, saliva, and urine.
Some of the cocaine drug testing kits available in the market include the following:
- ECO II – 10 Panel Urine Drug Test Cup: This urine testing kit can detect cocaine and nine other illicit drugs from a single sample. The one-step drug testing kit can determine the presence of drug metabolites within 5 minutes.
- Oratect – 6 Panel Saliva Test: This testing kit analyzes cocaine and five other drug metabolites (THC, amphetamines, methamphetamines, opiates, and phenylcyclidine) from a single saliva sample.
- HairConfirm Regular – 7 Panel Hair Follicle Multi-Drug Testing Kit: If you prefer to submit a hair sample, this hair testing product may provide just what you need. It has the ability to detect seven drug metabolites (including cocaine) from a hair sample. Its long detection window of up to 90 days makes this product extremely dependable.
Statistics on Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine has been haunting the world for decades, churning out several cases of intoxication, abuse, injury, and death. Here are some disturbing facts and figures related to cocaine abuse:
- The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that roughly 1.5 million individuals of at least 12 years old admitted to have used cocaine in the past 30 days in 2014. [source]
- According to the 2016 Monitoring The Future (MTF) Survey, cocaine use by students in 8th, 10th and 12th grades has been on a decline since 16 years ago. In addition, more tha 85 percent of students disapprove of trying cocaine. [source]
- More than half of the drug-related hospital emergency room cases involved illicit drugs. The highest prevalence involved cocaine use, pegged at 40.3 percent of the ER visits. [source]