GUIDE TO COCAINE
If you hear the term “dope fiend” you’re probably hearing about cocaine. The phrase came into being many years ago to describe the nasty and sometimes deadly side-effects of constant cocaine use. Coke, blow, line, rail, snow, big C, powder, stash and bump, are all street names to describe a drug extracted from coca leaves and worth tens of billions of dollars worldwide. Euphoric, energetic and alert are among feelings users report. The high is described as intense, but also short-lived. It’s a feeling that can quickly descend into depression and edginess and, eventually, a powerful craving for more.
Cocaine comes in two forms; cocaine hydrochloride, which is white crystalline powder, or crack, which is hydrochloride processed with ammonia or baking soda and water to create crystal chips, chunks or rocks. Powdered cocaine is typically snorted, but can also be dissolved in water and injected. Crack is typically heated to a vapor and smoked. Shooting or smoking cocaine produces a quicker and stronger high, lasting 5-10 minutes. But in snorting it the high will last 15-30 minutes. Because of these short bursts of pleasure, users want more and more, creating a binge pattern in increasingly high doses. This pattern of use goes a long way toward explaining the highly addictive nature of cocaine.
HOW DOES IT WORK
Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that increases the levels of dopamine in the brain. It is dopamine that regulates pleasure. When levels of dopamine run amok, triggered by cocaine, a high is created, one that can quickly lead to addiction.
Cocaine use, even short-term, can wreak havoc on both body and mind. It constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils and increases body temperatures. Heart rates and blood pressures rise. Headaches and abdominal troubles occur. When usage becomes chronic, appetite is lost leading to malnourishment. Sleep becomes deprived. Heart attacks, enlarged hearts, strokes and respiratory failure can bring death. The brain’s rewards system is compromised. Tolerance levels become so high some users can never again get the same high they tasted when they first started. Doses increase to the point of permanent adverse psychological or physiological effects. Those who snort it might lose their sense of smell, develop nosebleeds, problems swallowing or constant runny noses. Those who inject risk HIV, hepatitis C, or other blood-borne diseases. For binge users paranoia, anxiety, irritability, anger and hostility can become constants and, for some, there are hallucinations and even full-blown psychosis.
MIXING AND OVERDOSE
As is the case with other drugs, the number of fatal overdoses involving cocaine has risen alarmingly in recent years. Signs of cocaine overdose include rapid heartbeat, agitation and fever. Seizures may occur as may heart attacks. Significant numbers of overdoses involving cocaine are the result of mixing with other drugs or alcohol. The combination of cocaine and heroin—speedball—is especially dangerous. This combination slows down the respiratory system, sometimes to a full stop and death.
Cocaine is extremely addictive and very hard to kick. The withdrawal from cocaine is not so much physical, as is the case with heroin and alcohol, but psychological. The problem with cocaine is the powerful craving that can exist for days, weeks and even months. There is no specific medication dedicated to easing withdrawal or craving for cocaine addicts. Mood swings, sleeplessness and depression are common symptoms of cocaine detox.
SIGNS OF ABUSE
Cocaine abuse is not terribly difficult to spot. The user may often disappear at seemingly random moments, only to return in a different mood or attitude. They might seem excited, more confident, and suddenly more talkative. And there’s the classic tell-tale sign; the white powder around the nose. Their pupils may be dilated, their nose runny or bloody or they may be oversensitive to light. Symptoms also include disorientation, delusions, paranoia, antisocial behavior and aggressiveness. Other signs are needle marks on the body for those injecting, or burn marks on lips and fingers for those who are smoking. You might find syringes or crack pipes lying around.
IMPACT OF ABUSE
Those who become addicted to cocaine will be driven to use more and more and may stop at virtually nothing to get it. This may occur at the expense of their families, their careers, and their health, mental and physical. Many lives have been ruined by cocaine. The craving it brings can be overwhelming, even in earliest usage. Cocaine has long been known as a recreational party drug. But when the need to party becomes the need to use, turning back can be horribly difficult.
Sources: addiction.com, samhsa.org, nida.gov, thefix.com
From your friends at www.commonbondrehabcenter.com Santa Clarita, CA.