what makes an addict

What Makes An Addict?

When one hears the word “addiction” the immediate thought is most likely to include “drugs”. This is only natural, as newspaper and television reports constantly refer to drug addiction in some form or another. The World Health Organisation (WHO) refers to substances like heroin where heroin centers Miami come in, as well as opium, cannabis, alcohol, amphetamines and tranquilizers when they talk about addiction, and a search on PubMed is more likely to yield results including these drugs than anything else, if only because they are the most studied means of addiction.

Certainly the WHO defines addiction as “using a substance repeatedly, despite knowing and experiencing its harmful effects”, and this is by and large true. Yet there are non-pharmaceutical addictions which can have equally harmful effects, be they social or health-related; gambling, sex and food spring to mind. It may be correct to use the term “substance-dependency” for drug use, but physical and psychological dependence are both intrinsically linked to each other and share the same biochemical patterns.

Dopamine and Addiction – What Makes Us Addicted?

There is evidence emerging that all types of addiction lead to the same changes in the brain. Certainly chemical dependence causes rewiring of the brain’s dopamine and serotonin pathways (Siegel A and Sapru HN, Essential Neuroscience, pub. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 517-520), simply because the substances taken artificially alter dopamine levels. Yet gambling has been shown to do the same, as has food. Essentially, anything that causes a “feel-good” response will cause dopamine and serotonin to be released.

So addiction ought to be defined as any substance or behaviour which leads to a dependence on dopaminergic alterations in the central nervous system; this would cover all bases with regard to drugs, food, gambling and so on. Even the mere thought of the substance or behaviour is usually enough to elicit cravings and a response; one study by Heinz et al showed that certain cues could elicit a neuronal response in alcoholics.

Heinz’s study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to show changes in the dopamine pathways: recovering alcoholics have fewer dopamine type 2 receptors (D2) than healthy subjects and this is closely linked to a high relapse rate. Similar changes have been shown by other groups using PET and MRI in other forms of dependence, such as food and gambling (see previous links).

Psychological Dependence and Dopamine – the Same as Physical Dependence?

What causes this change is the release of a protein known as cocaine-amphetamine-related-transcript (CART), so called because cocaine and amphetamine were the first stimulants to be implicated in its production. Busto et al have linked CART release in the hypothalamus (the region of the brain commonly linked to reward behaviour) to several drug-seeking changes in the brain, especially that of dopamine stimulation. The authors note that some genetic alterations to CART may predispose individuals to addiction.

The best treatment by far is detoxification and abstinance (sometimes with the aid of less-addictive substances), but as yet no study has shown any kind of reversal of the brain signalling pathways. In other words, an addict remains an addict for life. A sufferer has to abstain from the substances or behaviours that led to their addiction or risk relapse.

This makes food addiction all the more tragic: while it might be possible for someone to never drink another drop of alcohol or smoke another cigarette in their entire life, try telling someone who was morbidly obese to never eat again. Even with diet and exercise (and a great deal of hard work) a person who loses weight can find it all too easy to relapse and begin overeating – after all, food is readily available in the western world and we need it to survive. But the temptation will be there, and in all likelihood stronger than that for alcohol, say, or tobacco.

It is all too easy for people to pour scorn upon any addict – whether they are substance abusers, alcoholics, obese – but were it not for circumstance the roles could be so easily reversed. That addict could be anyone. It could even be you.


Chatroulette – What is it and Why is it Addictive?

Chatroulette is an online activity which brings together two random people face to face via webcam. It derives its name from Russian roulette which is a game of chance. In chatroulette, the “players” never know who they’re going to meet online next, which is part of the allure and addictiveness of chatroulette.

According to comScore, more than 4 million people accessed the website of chatroulette in February 2016 alone. And that number is growing daily. But is chatroulette just the latest internet fad or a service that provides some value to its users?

Chatroulette History and Growth

The website was developed in November 2009 by a 17 year old Russian student, Andrey Ternovskiy who wanted to chat with interesting people using Skype-like video and audio. He coded chatroulette in 2 days and within a month the site had a few hundred visitors without any marketing whatsoever. By January 2010 it had 944,000 visitors and in February 2010, just 3 months after its launch, it drew in 3.9 million unique visitors. Today approximately 500,000 people access the site on a daily basis. These numbers put chatroulette firmly on the map of the latest trend to strike the internet.

Chatroulette Playing Interface

Chatroulette’s user interface is simple, even sparse. Visitors who access chatroulette don’t require a login or any other kind of verification. Once they’re on the site, the service prompts them to enable their webcam. Once their webcam is enabled, the user is able to see other users of the service in a completely random order. If the user doesn’t like what is being shown on their partner’s web stream, they simply click “Next” and move on to another chat partner. This phenomenon is called “being nexted”.

Chatroulette’s Addictiveness

The lure of chatroulette is the same as the lure of gambling – to see what the next roll of dice will bring, or in chatroulette’s case, who it will bring. Part of chatroulette’s attraction is to see who else is using the site and what they’re doing. Participants often try to outdo each other in an attempt to see who can be the most entertaining personality on the Web and avoid getting “nexted” the longest. Another lure is the chance to peek into a complete stranger’s life and see what happens. The thrill of the unknown and the unpredictable are a huge factor in chatroulette’s success and addictiveness.

Chatroulette Demographics

Chatroulette has been criticized as being a haven for perverts and depraved people due to its incentive for voyeurism. One study describes the chatroulette demographic as 89% male, 9% female, and 13% perverts. Parents should be advised that if their child is using chatroulette they have a good chance of coming across inappropriate content.

Is chatroulette a passing fad or can it be used for more useful pursuits, like social networking or dating? Even terminologies about it differ – some call it a game, some a service, while others dub it a cultural phenomenon. Only time will tell if this website will evolve or fade out, but experts agree that the service will explore future benefits that may be extracted from it. One thing’s for sure – chatroulette is not for the faint of heart!

how to face addiction

Facing the Habit – An Addict’s Tale: Magnolia Martin Documents the Struggle of a Heroin Addict

This is not a flattering story, but one that is brutal, raw, and honest. Using interviews with friends, family, and other addicts, Martin weaves together a very rough fabric that will capture the viewer. How does a handsome, successful, young millionaire stockbroker watch his life circle the drain as his out-of-control addiction overtakes his life? Called a Kiefer Sutherland look-alike, he would seem to have everything: a high paying job, a handsome look and pleasant demeanor, citizenship in one of the world’s wealthiest nations – why would he become addicted? Once addicted, though, the drug becomes a leveling force and all users are taken down. His habit requires him to “boost” or steal due to the enormous cost of maintaining a habit that only grows worse as he becomes more resistant to the effects of the drug he craves.

Magnolia Martin Captures the Tragedy of Addiction in Her Film

Even for 50 minutes, it is difficult to witness the world of this one young heroin addict, as he turns himself into an angry, demanding, dysfunctional human being. Nodding off after shooting up or injecting the drug, Dave begins to slur his words and slowly leaves the world of feeling, functioning adults. He becomes an organism who needs a chemical to avoid pain and suffering, and that pursuit is all that matters and motivates him. This organism even harrasses his aging mother in order to steal fresh needles from her – she, a diabetic woman struggling with her own daily injections–although hers are for her very survival, rather than self-destructive. She shares early photos and memories of her handsome son and the viewer can only imagine the nightmare in which she, too, has been plunged due to his ugly habit.

Facing the Habit Puts a Very Human Face on Addiction

Profiling a controversial new treatment modality using Ibogaine, a drug from West Africa, several former addicts are interviewed for their perspective on the treatment. While not a polished film, this film appears to be deliberately spontaneous and raw, brutal in parts, in showing the reality of some of the ugly side of addiction. Perhaps most poignant of all is the final few moments of the film, when the viewer learns the fate of all those people interviewed. Magnolia Martin should be congratulated for this short documentary about an issue that extracts a huge human toil; it is an amazing short documentary about a painful topic. Most remarkable of all is that this film was ever made.

  • Oppenhunter Films
  • 50 minutes
  • Movie site
  • San Francisco Frozen Film Festival, Best Documentary Short

The Effects and Dangers of Heroin Abuse

Heroin is a widely-used, fast-acting and highly addictive illegal substance. Heroin is classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule I drug, meaning this drug possesses extremely addictive qualities and is highly dangerous when used regularly. Heroin is derived from opium, a natural juice extracted from the seed of the poppy plant.

Pure heroin is a white powder that can be smoked, snorted or injected intravenously. Heroin purchased on the street may vary in color from white to dark brown, depending on the purity. The drug has a sedative effect and is sometimes used following the use of other drugs, such as Ecstasy or speed, in order to relieve the comedown from an invigorating high. Heroin in classified in the same drug family as codeine and morphine and has the same “chill-out” effects.

The Side Effects of Heroin Abuse

The human body is filled with receptors for endorphins, the natural pain-killing substance produced by the body to alleviate shock or physical pain. Heroin is a natural painkiller that can attach to endorphin receptors and provide a pleasurable sensation and sense of well-being. Heroin amplifies the receptors’ painkilling effects, so the sense of pleasure is much stronger than the body is typically accustomed to.

Intravenous injection is the best method for providing a quick onset of pleasure. The peak of euphoria can be reached in seven or eight seconds. Smoking or snorting heroin will produce a peak in approximately ten minutes. Users may experience the following symptoms at peak onset:

  • nausea or vomiting
  • dry mouth
  • warm, flushed skin
  • heavy feeling in the extremities
  • drowsiness
  • clouded or impaired mental functioning
  • severe itching
  • difficulty breathing

Once the peak has subsided, the user will feel very relaxed and comfortable, since the central nervous system has been sedated. The individual will also be left feeling drowsy for several hours and may have an appearance of being asleep while actually awake.

The Dangers of Heroin Abuse

Frequent use of heroin can lead to dependence on the drug. Research estimates that 23 percent of regular heroin users become dependent. A regular user can experience withdrawal symptoms in as little as two or three days after a use. As an individual becomes dependent, tolerance is established, and each use requires an increased amount of the substance to reach an acceptable peak. Tolerance increases the risk of overdose. Most users buy heroin that is mixed with other substances. At times, heroin is sold on the street in a pure form. If a dependent user with a high tolerance uses a pure form, overdose will occur and will most likely be fatal. Chronic users can also develop the following complications:

  • collapsed veins
  • infection of the heart lining
  • abcesses
  • liver, kidney or pulmonary failure
  • clogged blood vessels causing permanent organ damage

Since heroin is most commonly injected intravenously, the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis B or C is extremely high. Many individuals share the needles used to inject the drug, so contagious diseases are often spread on the needles. Substances that heroin is often mixed with, such as talcum powder, starch or chalk, may contain bacteria. The bacteria will then spread throughout the user’s body and cause infections.

Treatment for Heroin Abuse

Heroin addicts who seek treatment will begin with detoxification. The user may be treated with medications like methadone or buprenorphine to ease withdrawal symptoms and allow the addict to feel the same sense of pleasure produced by heroin without the dangerous side effects. Typically, users are treated with a combination of drugs and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Therapy helps modify an addict’s behavior and build coping skills. Treatment can help reduce cravings, eliminate the focus on the drug and improve the addict’s overall physical health. Heroin is one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs distributed in the United States. With proper assistance, addicts can overcome dependence and help remove the “chill-out drug” from the streets of America.

cocaine abuse

The Effects and Dangers of Cocaine Abuse: Cocaine is Harmful, Dangerous and Comes with Serious Side Effects

Cocaine is a well known stimulant drug that comes with intense euphoric and addictive potential. It is classified by the Drug Enforcement Agency as schedule two, meaning it has high potential for abuse but may be distributed by a doctor for legitimate medical uses.

Cocaine is not a new drug. Pure cocaine is one of the world’s oldest known drugs and was first extracted from the leaves of the coca bush in the mid-19th century in areas of Peru, Colombia and Bolivia. In the early 1900s, cocaine was widely used to treat a variety of illnesses. Cocaine is a white powder that is typically snorted through the nose. However, the “high” can be achieved more quickly if the powder is dissolved in water and injected intravenously. Crack, a well known form of cocaine, is created by heating a mixture of cocaine and baking soda. Crack vapors are smoked, and euphoria can be reached within five minutes.

Side Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine is a nervous system stimulant which causes users to feel alert and energized. Effects of snorted cocaine can be felt immediately and fully wear off within 20 to 30 minutes. A cocaine user feels excited, sociable, talkative and possibly sexually aroused. Physically, the blood pressure and body temperature rise as the cocaine causes an excess of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, to be released in the brain. The comedown from cocaine is unpleasant, leaving the user feeling restless with dulled senses. Common after effects of cocaine use include:

  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • depression
  • lethargy

The after-effects are typically minimal at first and worsen with continued cocaine use. Regular users may eventually experience tremors, vertigo, paranoia, seizures or cardiac arrest, which can lead to sudden death. As an individual uses cocaine regularly, he or she will build a tolerance. This will cause the user to need a greater amount of the substance with each use to reach a typical high. Developing a tolerance to the drug creates dependence, which provides more opportunities for cocaine-related deaths.

Dangers of Cocaine

The most common physical danger of regular cocaine use is septum damage due to snorting. The nasal septum is the partition of bone and cartilage that separates the nasal cavities at the top of the nose. At first, regular users suffer constant nosebleeds, bloodied mucus and chronic nasal congestion. After continuous, long-term use, cocaine will begin to have a corrosive effect and may dissolve the septum completely.

The greatest danger of regular cocaine use is the potential for overdose. Most deaths associated with cocaine use are caused by accidental overdosing, usually when cocaine powder has been dissolved in drinks. Mixing the powder in liquid can cause the user to lose a sense of the amount of cocaine being consumed. An overdose is painful and traumatic. The victim suffers convulsions, heart failure or respiratory failure due to the depression of centers in the brain that control vital bodily functions such as breathing. Failure of these functions most often leads to death.

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine use does not result in addiction for every individual. Personalities and lifestyles often determine the responses to the drug among different people. However, cocaine is an extremely addictive drug. Cocaine causes a sense of pleasure and self-confidence that users often cannot find through other resources. When the euphoria wears off, the user craves that feeling again, and the compulsion to use the drug continuously is reinforced. For some individuals, occasional use may be completely harmless. For others, occasional use can turn into regular, long-term abuse as the cravings intensify. Regular abuse may then result in cocaine psychosis. The psychosis is a perpetual state of cocaine cravings, insomnia, paranoia, and mood swings. A drug treatment program may help an individual relieve the effects of psychosis and end long-term cocaine abuse.

Coke: Good Feeling, Bad Result

Approximately 2.4% of the American population uses cocaine on a regular basis. Users span a wide range of ages and are found among all ethnicities and levels of socioeconomic status. Every year, hundreds of those users are arrested on drug-related charges. Some users are not so lucky, experiencing physical damage from continued use or suffering painful deaths from overdosing. Individuals become addicted to cocaine due to the euphoria and feelings of pleasure the drug induces. When not high on cocaine, individuals exist in a world of misery with fatigue, headaches and depression. Cocaine is a trap. The drug lures users in with the promise of happiness, and then always leaves them wanting more.

tobacco use

Harmful Toxins Present in Tobacco: Harmful Effects of Smoking

Smoking can be rightfully acknowledged as one of the most popular yet dangerous habits prevailing in the modern world. Smoking is known to cause cancer, respiratory and breathing problems among other severe complications. Other than nicotine, the cigarette smoke consists of 4000 toxic chemicals.

Know the Toxins

Even though most of the 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke are dangerous, some bring about significant and undesirable changes in the body. Other than nicotine, which is a highly addictive and dangerous chemical, these following chemicals constitute the major part of the inhaled tobacco smoke:

  1. Tar – This chemical is a mixture of toxic chemicals and is responsible for lung cancer and respiratory problems.
  2. Carbon Monoxide – This is a poisonous gas which reduces the oxygen carrying capabilities of red blood corpuscles.
  3. Arsenic – This chemical is generally used in wood preservatives and is one of the most toxic chemicals present in the inhaled cigarette smoke. It causes cancer and damages the heart and the blood vessels.
  4. Benzene – It is made from crude oil and is used as an industrial solvent. It has been well established that it causes leukemia.
  5. Cadmium – This is a metal which is used to make batteries. When inhaled, it causes cancer and can damage kidneys and the linings of the arteries.
  6. Formaldehyde – This chemical is used to preserve dead bodies and is an effective chemical used for killing bacteria. This chemical causes severe complications in the lungs and airway passages.
  7. Polonium – 210 – This is a radioactive element which emits a harmful radiation known as alpha radiation. When polonium gets deposited inside the body of smokers, it gives out radiation which directs affects the cells.
  8. Hexavalent Chromium – This is one of the many forms of chromium. It causes lung cancer and plays a major part in damaging the DNA.
  9. BDE or 1, 3- butadiene – This chemical is used in the manufacture of rubber. It is present in huge quantities in the smoke of tobacco and is responsible for casing cancer.
  10. Acrolien – This chemical is found in huge quantities in tobacco smoke. It has a strong irritating smell and is known for causing cancer and damaging the DNA.
  11. Hydrogen Cyanide – This is a highly toxic gas which can cause great damage to heart and blood vessels. It also adversely affects the lungs and the airways.

Smoking adversely affects unborn babies as well. It reduces the passage of oxygen to the fetus due to the presence of cyanide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons of aromatic nature. It causes a reduction in placental flow of blood, thereby reducing the delivery of oxygen to the unborn baby.

The Government Wants You to Stop

With the constant airing of anti-smoking commercials and pictorial warning messages on tobacco products, more and more people have decided to stop smoking. Besides levying heavier taxes on tobacco based products, smoking has been banned in public places. The ban on advertising tobacco products has been a welcome step by the government and a steep contributor to the decline of smoking.

Smoking Cessation for Better Health

Quitting smoking will be the biggest and most rewarding change one can bring to his life. Smoking cessation will bring lasting and wonderful changes in one’s lifestyle and would put him on the path to a healthy and fulfilling life.

ecstasy drug

5-HTP Helps with Ecstasy Addiction Withdrawals

Replenishing Serotonin Helps Ecstasy Abuse Symptoms

Ecstasy addiction leads to depression and insomnia. This alternative medication helps with the drug withdrawal symptoms.

Ecstasy has been a popular drug for decades. Drug abusers use the pill to gain euphoria and a strong sense of well-being. Unfortunately, the comedowns from ecstasy use are severe depression, anxiety, and insomnia. The symptoms from ecstasy addiction are mainly from the body’s depletion of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. The depression from excessive ecstasy use leads to suicidal thoughts and self harm. It’s imperative that ecstasy users replenish levels of serotonin for their mental safety and health.

What Causes Ecstasy Addiction?

Ecstasy is the street name for MDMA. The chemical name of the drug is 3,4 Methlynedioxymethamphetamine. The drug works on three neurotransmitters, increasing their production in the brain. These three neurotransmitters, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine give ecstasy addicts the euphoric feelings for hours. Ecstasy is generally harmless unless there is an underlying condition or polydrug use. Ecstasy may also be cut with other substances that cause overdose situations, and some users experience hyperthermia or water intoxication. Proper harm reduction with ecstasy keeps drug use safe, but side effects from unknown substances in pills are what lead to emergency situations.

Ecstasy Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

The first few times an ecstasy user takes a pill, he feels euphoric, tingly, and empathetic. The high from ecstasy lasts for a few days until the withdrawals start to kick in. Withdrawals from ecstasy addiction are mainly depression. While serotonin floods the brain during ecstasy drug activity, it’s depleted after a couple of days. The lack of serotonin creates depressed activity, and the drug user may feel insomnia and restlessness.

5-HTP Replenishes Serotonin after Ecstasy Addiction

5-HTP is a natural supplement that replenishes serotonin for the depression during ecstasy withdrawal. 5-HTP is actually a precursor for serotonin. 5-HTP is an essential amino acid that is converted to tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is then converted in the brain to serotonin. Tryptophan is also found naturally in protein rich foods like beef, poultry, and fish. However, quick replenishment is found in 5-HTP supplements which are available at vitamin stores.

Exercise is also shown to improve levels of serotonin. Daily exercise regimens release endorphins, making the drug user happier from ecstasy addiction. Exercise has been shown to be one of the best ways to counteract the effects of drug withdrawal symptoms.


When increasing serotonin, care should be taken before taking supplements. Too much serotonin in the brain causes a condition called serotonin syndrome. This is a dangerous side effect of ecstasy addiction when using other medications. Increased serotonin is also the mode of action for some drugs such as antibiotics. When taking drugs like antibiotics, St. John’s Wort, or 5-HTP supplements, never take ecstasy.

marijuana addiction

Treatment for Weed Addiction: Behavioral Techniques to Treat Marijuana Addiction

Weed (marijuana) is the most abused drug in America. This article examines the different behavioral treatments available for weed addiction.

Weed, also known as marijuana or cannabis, is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world. Smoking weed results in the perceptions and sensations being altered. Smoking weed can be very addictive and harmful. Exerting willpower is an admirable step one can take toward quitting marijuana use. However, it often takes more than that. There are no medications currently available to treat marijuana addiction. Still, behavioral treatments can be an effective alternative.

Treatment for Weed Addiction in Adolescents

In a study called Monitoring the Future (conducted by the University of Michigan), it was discovered that during the mid to late 1990s marijuana use increased significantly among adolescents. Thereafter, use among middle school and high school students decreased slightly. Nearly 50 percent of high school students admitted to using marijuana at least once and nearly 6 percent use it daily.

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) was initially implemented for adult use; however, the Cannabis Youth Treatment Study later adapted it for adolescent use. In MET, with the assistance of an empathetic therapist, the patient feels as though she is understood. The MET therapist takes an assertive stance, reviewing the patient’s goals and behaviors, pinpointing any inconsistencies. The therapist uses this information to better motivate the patient into taking responsibility for her actions and changing them.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that was adapted in the Cannabis Youth Treatment Study. CBT focuses on the patient’s thinking patterns as the source of his addiction. In changing his negative thought processes, he exhibits positive thoughts and behaviors. He also learns the skills needed to avoid drug environments and to minimize his chances of a relapse.

Family-based Treatment for Weed Addiction

Since adolescents are at a stage where they are still closely tied with their families, the Family Support Network (FSN) was implemented solely for the Cannabis Youth Treatment Study. It is designed to improve family communication, parents’ behavioral management abilities and to increase their engagement to the recovery process.

Multidimensional family therapy (MFT) studies how the adolescent and her parents communicate with each other and the involvement of the school systems. It focuses on establishing a therapeutic connection among the members of the families and on enforcing activities to promote healthy changes in the adolescent, her family and social systems.

Adult Treatment for Weed Addiction

There are several treatments that have been developed and created for adults suffering from marijuana addiction. Among the most successful are cognitive behavioral, motivational enhancement, reward-based treatment and support groups. However, it is found that a combination of treatments is more effective than a single one.

Reward-based treatment involves using monetary vouchers to reward patients who have completed positive steps towards their treatment goal (e.g. refraining from drug use or attending sessions). The vouchers can be redeemed for goods or services, such as educational classes or recreational equipment.

Brief marijuana dependence counseling (BMDC) focuses on the social and psychological needs of the adult addicted to cannabis. By combining intervention, case management and cognitive behavioral skills, the patient can receive increased motivation, help for problems outside of his drug abuse, and the necessary skills to abstain from marijuana.

Twelve-step Program for Weed Addiction

An individual suffering from marijuana addiction can also benefit from a twelve-step program, such as Marijuana Anonymous. It offers an effective method of bonding with others similar to him, while helping him to triumph over his addiction.

By coupling a support system with behavioral techniques, overcoming marijuana addiction is possible.

cocaine addiction

Cocaine Addiction and Signs of Abuse

Cocaine is a the Major Stimulant Responsible for ER Visits

Cocaine addiction is the major source of stimulant addiction. Know the signs and effects of drug use.

It’s a popular misconception that cocaine, although illegal, is more harmless than opiates like heroin, but cocaine addiction brings strong psychological and physical side effects. Since cocaine addiction is extremely stimulating, it is often mixed with sedatives like benzodiazepines (Xanax or Valium) or even alcohol to help the addict sleep. The mixture of sedatives and stimulants harms the heart and has dangerous side effects.

What are Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addiction symptoms highly depend on the product’s purity and the route of administration. Cocaine is often cut with various ingredients to spread it out, making the dealer more money. The most common routes of administration are intravenous injection, smoking, and insufflation.

CNS and Brain Effects

Initial effects from cocaine addiction are a feeling of euphoria, sociability and less hunger. Outward signs of usage are dilated pupils and possible headache. Chronic use of cocaine exacerbates these sociable activities to cocaine psychosis, which is reported to be similar to schizophrenia. Emergency personnel are needed if any of these symptoms cause seizures, severe headaches, or trouble breathing.

Cocaine addiction causes changes in the various neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain that control functions like personality, body temperature, breathing, and cognitive reasoning. The neurotransmitters affected the most by cocaine are norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Damage to the Nose

A large majority of cocaine addicts insufflate (sniff into the nose). This lowers the blood supply to the septum, the cartilage that separates the two nostrils. The damage to the septum increases with use causing the token “coke-nose” with nosebleeds, sinusitis, and stuffiness.

Lung Damage

Cocaine addiction leads to freebase smoking of the paste known as crack. The residues from the tar, pipes, and chemicals within the drug cause chronic bronchitis in cocaine addicts. More severe symptoms are pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) and even lung collapse. Cocaine addicts who smoke the freebase paste are among the highest percentage of emergency room visits with difficulties in breathing.

Cardiovascular Damage

Cocaine affects the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the body’s “fight or flight” response through adrenaline or epinephrine. The effects increase heart rate and narrow the blood vessels. Chest pain is the next highest incidence of cocaine addiction after breathing complications from lung damage. Cocaine increases heart rate causing abnormal rhythms and cardiac arrest. Chronic use of cocaine causes long-term hardening of the coronary arteries associated with the growing number of heart attacks from cocaine addiction in younger users.

What Kind of Treatment is Available for Cocaine Addiction?

Most of the symptoms related to cocaine addiction will subside after cessation of use. Severe symptoms from chronic use need the attention of medical personnel. Intravenous users lower their chances of disease and infection by never sharing needles and cleansing the skin prior to injection.

Because of the high psychological damage from cocaine addiction, it’s recommended that users seek the help of a licensed psychologist. Through medical and psychological care, cocaine addiction can be overcome to improve health.

Acupuncture: Effective for Managing Cocaine Rehabilitation

While drug prevention programs continue to educate teens in the health risks associated with use, there are many teenagers across the United States who continue to use. As a parent of a teenager, it is important to not only recognize the symptoms of drug use, but to also find ways in which to aide your teenager through drug rehabilitation and recovery.
Cocaine use continues to be a leading cause of concern among the teen population in the United States. Cocaine is without a doubt, one of the most addictive drugs used today. Without proper intervention and drug rehabilitation, a teenager who uses cocaine is at-risk for significant complications of mental health and cardiovascular disease. If you are the parent of a teenager who has used cocaine, it is important to find ways in which to treat the drug addiction, even considering a collaborative approach among many specialties.

In some drug treatment facilities, the use of an alternative approach to healing has become increasingly more common. Using acupuncture, specifically around the auricular area, teens who are addicted to cocaine are finding some therapeutic benefit. The benefits of acupuncture, in part, are attributed to the induction of a relaxation state which is crucial to alleviating the cravings for a particular drug, such as cocaine. By inducing this relaxation state, especially during the period of withdrawals, the cocaine rehabilitation program is often more successful.

While some drug rehabilitation programs utilize other forms of relaxation techniques, the use of acupuncture has shown to be most effective. If your teen, addicted to cocaine, is not entering into an inpatient drug rehabilitation center, it may be prudent to seek the services of an acupuncturist on your own. Describing the addiction and the complications associated with cocaine drug cravings and withdrawal, the acupuncturist may be able to design an effective treatment plan. Whatever you do, don’t try and detox from cocaine by yourself.

As with any drug dependency, the key to successful outcomes lies in the willingness of the drug user to stop using the recreational drug. In the case of cocaine, addiction is a powerful influence with cravings and withdrawal quite pronounced. While inpatient drug rehabilitation provides for the optimal outcome, many teenagers simply refuse to cooperate in drug rehabilitation on an inpatient basis. Another holistic approach to detoxing, is using ayahuasca. It is a hallucinogen that has been shown in some practices to help with detox and rehab. However, patients can also get addicted to ayahuasca.

If your teen is using cocaine, and is not willing to cooperate with in-patient drug rehabilitation, you may want to consider auricular acupuncture. As a relaxation technique, cocaine cravings may be significantly reduced. While there is some debate over the actual physiological effect of acupuncture, you can rest assured that the simple technique of relaxation during acupuncture is often more effective than any other relaxation approach. Ultimately, it may be relaxation techniques that break the cocaine addiction.