What is Cocaine? It is one of the most common drugs that are widely available today. It gives a stimulating, euphoric feeling, which is why it’s often used as a party drug. Based on statistics from 2015, in the US alone, about 5% of adults aged 18 to 25 have taken the drug at least once.
If you’re wondering, “is cocaine addictive?” The answer is yes, and it’s easy to get addicted to it. The drug is quick-acting yet the effects are short-lived, which is why people tend to take more of it as they continue to seek the high. Overdose usually leads to disastrous consequences, such as brain shutdown and heart failure. There is no cure for an overdose, and long-term use can also lead to disastrous side-effects.
To understand more about why this drug is harmful, here are 12 facts about it.
The drug has a wide variety of street names
As it is a popular party drug, various street names exist, the most common being crack, coke, rock, and snow. There are lots of other words used to refer to the drug as well, such as dust, flake, gravel, C, blow, bump, baseball, sleet, and powder.
Cocaine usually comes in the form of a white powder
This drug has a texture that resembles baby powder. Some variants are off-white, yellowish, or even gray, depending on its level of purity. Another famous form of the drug, known as crack, looks like pinkish-white rocks.
Variants sold on the streets have different concentrations
Party drugs like coke are dangerous for one main reason: users don’t know how much of the active ingredient they’re getting. Most powdered forms, for example, can range anywhere from 5% to 40% purity. Sometimes, the concentration of the drug is even higher. Some variants, like crack, are even more potent. Additionally, crack has impurities that cause other side effects, making it even more dangerous.
As users do not know the exact concentration of the substance they take, it is easy to accidentally overdose on the drug.
The drug used to be an ingredient of Coca-Cola
The beverage is called “coke” for a reason. It was originally part of the formulation for the popular soft drink, but it was later removed because of the damaging and addictive effects of the drug.
Coke hijacks the brain’s pleasure center
Upon taking the drug, it goes straight into the user’s brain, sending a wave of dopamine into the parts of the brain that control feelings of pleasure. Dopamine is a brain chemical that triggers a happy mood, so with more of it flooding the user’s brain, he would experience an immediate high as well as an increased sense of awareness. These are exactly the kinds of feelings that users love to get.
Cocaine’s effects wear off quickly
That pleasurable high fades off after a short while. Because of this, users tend to take more and more coke to maintain that feeling. This creates a tolerance for the drug, which means users need to take ever higher doses to attain the high. As tolerance builds up, a user can overdose on coke pretty fast.
The drug has a numbing effect
This illicit drug is unique in that it both has stimulating and numbing effects. In fact, the drug has its use in medicine as an anesthetic for ear, nose, and throat surgery. However, due to its addictive qualities, the drug has been replaced with safer alternatives.
Cocaine can produce serious side effects
That heightened sense of awareness comes at a price. This drug can cause a range of lethal consequences: it can mess with the heartbeat, increase blood pressure, trigger seizures, and cause strokes, among others. In some cases, sudden death may even result.
Cocaine overdose can cause death quickly
The worst symptoms of coke overdose are the shutting down of the body’s most vital organs, including the brain and the heart. The drug can dramatically increase a user’s heart rate, leading to a heart attack. Uncontrolled muscle twitching and seizures may also result, which if left unattended can also hinder breathing.
There is no medicine that can reverse cocaine overdose
There is no antidote for overdose. However, immediate medical attention can save the life of a user who has overdosed. The idea is to stabilize his heart, lungs, and other vital organs. Body temperature must also be brought back to normal levels. In users that have difficulty breathing, CPR may be required.
Cocaine causes a range of long-term side effects
Even if a user does not overdose on this drug, if he continues to take the drug, he would experience many harmful consequences later in life. One of them is the tightening of the arteries, which leads to high blood pressure. Also, because coke is a powerful stimulant, a user may not be able to get proper sleep.
The drug also triggers a variety of negative psychological effects, like frequent panic attacks, mood problems, paranoid delusions, or worse, psychosis. The drug messes with the brain so much that a user may stop behaving normally and rationally after a while.
Users dependent on cocaine are not hopeless
When faced with the effects of coke on a user’s body, he may feel like his life may never get back to normal again. But nothing could be further from the truth. Cocaine addiction is just like any other substance use disorder, which means that rehab is possible.
There are proven techniques that have helped people who were dependent on the drug. They now lead better, happier lives free from the chains of dependence. The recovery process is not overnight; it is an uphill climb, taking lots of time and effort, but in the end, is worth it.
If you, a family member, or a friend is suffering from addiction, it’s not too late to get help. The road to recovery starts with that decision.