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.

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