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a man talks through his addiction in cocaine addiction treatment programCocaine, commonly referred to as coke, is a strong central nervous system stimulant mostly used as a recreational drug. Cocaine is a highly addictive drug when used regularly. The mental effects of the drug may include loss of contact with reality, an intense feeling of happiness, or agitation. Physical symptoms may include a fast heart rate, sweating, and dilated pupils. High doses can result in very high blood pressure or body temperature. The effects begin within seconds to minutes of use and last between five and ninety minutes. To escape the long-term effects of cocaine addiction and substance abuse treatment, please contact Addiction Rehab Centers today by calling 844.910.0686.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a hard, mineral-like substance with an off-white tint. Also known as coke, this substance is a strong stimulant mostly used as a recreational drug. It is a powerful stimulant derived from the leaves of the Coca plant native to South America. It is usually available in a powdered form, as a powdered hydrochloride salt which is most commonly snorted, although it is also dissolved and injected.

Cocaine is addictive due to its effect on the reward pathway in the brain. After a short period of use, there is a high risk that dependence will occur. Its use also increases the risk of stroke, myocardial infarction, lung problems in those who smoke it, blood infections, and sudden cardiac death. Cocaine sold on the street is commonly mixed with local anesthetics, cornstarch, quinine, or sugar which can result in additional toxicity. After repeated doses, a person may have decreased ability to feel pleasure and be very physically tired.

Different Methods of Using Cocaine

The effects of cocaine can last from thirty minutes to an hour depending upon the dose. How fast the cocaine produces its effects depends upon the method used to consume it.

Oral Use

Some users rub the powder along the gum line, or onto a cigarette filter which is then smoked, which numbs the gums and teeth – hence the colloquial names of “numbies”, “gummers”, or “cocoa puffs” are given to this type of administration.

Coca Leaves

Coca leaves are typically mixed with an alkaline substance (such as lime) and chewed into a wad that is retained in the mouth between gum and cheek (much in the same as chewing tobacco is chewed) and sucked of its juices. The juices are absorbed slowly by the mucous membrane of the inner cheek and by the gastrointestinal tract when swallowed. Alternatively, coca leaves can be infused in liquid and consumed like tea.

Insufflation

Nasal insufflation (known colloquially as “snorting”, “sniffing”, or “blowing”) is a common method of ingestion of recreational powdered cocaine. The drug coats and is absorbed through mucous membranes lining the nasal passages.

Injection

Cocaine injection by turning the drug into a solution provides the highest blood levels of drug in the shortest amount of time.

Inhalation

Smoking cocaine is one of the several ways the drug is consumed in. Smoking cocaine produces an intense and short lived high.

Suppository

Another way users consume cocaine is by making it into a suppository which they then insert into the anus or vagina. The drug is then absorbed by the membranes of these body parts.

How Does Cocaine Work?

As soon as the drug is consumed, the chemicals from it are absorbed in the blood. These chemicals can easily break blood-brain barrier to reach the brain and produce their effects. Cocaine acts by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. This results into greater concentrations of these three neurotransmitters in the brain. Like many other substances of abuse, cocaine is addictive because it targets the “feel good” chemical in the brain, dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that, when triggered, is responsible for pleasure signals including:

  • Attention
  • Behavior
  • Memory
  • Mood and emotions
  • Motivation
  • Movement
  • Reward

Unfortunately, the increased levels of dopamine can quickly lead to an addiction.

Why Is Cocaine Addictive?

Normally, dopamine attaches to dopamine receptors to signal reward and pleasure. Eventually, a dopamine transporter comes to remove dopamine from the receptor, and these happy feelings subside. When a person uses crack, it attaches to the dopamine transporter and blocks it from removing dopamine, causing a build-up of dopamine and the intense feelings of euphoria associated with a cocaine high. When the high wears off, the abuser may feel irritable, drowsy and lethargic. This association of pleasure and cocaine will become an unstoppable force in a person’s life causing them to use crack again and again, eventually leading to tolerance, dependence and addiction.

You may ask yourself, what are the signs of cocaine abuse? When a person needs to take more and more cocaine to experience the same level of high, they are building up a tolerance for the drug. If they stop smoking crack and begin feeling withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, their body is dependent on the drug. Eventually, if the person continues using this drug, they will develop cravings for crack and keep using the drug despite experiencing negative side effects.

Seek Treatment at Addiction Rehab Centers Today

At Addiction Rehab Centers, we provide our patients with the tools they need to put an end to their cocaine addiction. We offer a range of therapeutic options, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Experiential therapy

For more information about how we help our patients overcome cocaine addiction, please contact us at 844.910.0686.