Cocaine was once popularly known as party drug of the rich and famous people. It is a strong feel-good and compelling stimulant that is made from the leaves of the coca plant, which a native of South America. It is considered as a high-class drug in comparison to other drugs because of it’s quite high-priced value.

People usually refer to cocaine as “coke” or “snow” because it is normally found in the form of a white, crystalline powder which creates short-term euphoria, loss of contact with reality, extreme enthusiasm and increased talkativeness. Since it is very fine and white some street dealers often mix it with cornstarch, sugar, talcum powder or flour to increase profits. (1)

Cocaine is one of the most threatening drugs known to man. Once a person turns one’s hand to taking cocaine, scientists have proven that it is almost unattainable to free yourself from its grip physically and mentally.

Physically it stimulates key receptors within the brain that, in turn, create a euphoria to which users quickly develop a tolerance. Today, cocaine is a global, multi-billion dollar industry; fringing all age group, a line of work and economic levels, even schoolchildren as young as eight years old.

Statistical Data on Cocaine

Cocaine is the second most smuggled illegal drug in the world. Smugglers have delivered a total of 756 metric tons to South America and then followed by North America. On top of that, in 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 35.3 million Americans from young ages (12 years old and older) have used crack. Not only that, also according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, cocaine is the second most commonly used illegal drug in Europe as well. (2)

How Do People Use Cocaine?

People snort cocaine powder through their nose, or by rubbing it into their gums. Also, for some, they mix cocaine with liquids and inject it directly into their vein. On the other hand, some users use another popular method.

Cocaine powder is mixed with a weak base, such as baking soda and during this chemical reaction, the substance changes shape from a powder to solid which resembles a rock. Users heat up a crystal cocaine to produce vapors that are inhaled into the lungs. That’s why for some, they called it as “crack rock”, which refers to the cracking sound once the rock is being heated. (3)

How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?

In the normal neural communication process, a neuron delivers the dopamine into the synapse, where it can fasten itself to dopamine receptors on nearby neurons. Mostly, dopamine is then reprocessed back into the transferring neuron by a specialized protein called the dopamine transporter.

In the presence of cocaine, cocaine binds to the dopamine transporter and obstructs the typical recycling process which results in building up of dopamine in the synapse, that later contributes to the pleasurable effects of cocaine.

In addition, cocaine also makes alterations to the level of serotonin; the neurotransmitter responsible for keeping the mood balance in our brains. Even more, cocaine escalates the amount of norepinephrine, which manages the body flight and fights reaction.

Consequently, giving the following effects of increased blood pressure, heightened body temperature, greater heart rate, dilated pupils, nausea, hyper-stimulation, tactile hallucinations, psychosis and intensified rate of respiration.

However, the effect of cocaine varies depending on the site it blocks, the user may feel euphoric, paranoid, impulsive, hostile, anxious or talkative and some may feel intense depression, apathy,  and schizophrenia.

No matter how much of the drug is consumed or how many times, cocaine shoots up the risk of the user by experiencing a heart attack, stroke, seizure or respiratory (breathing) failure, any of which can result in sudden death. (4)

Here are other effects of cocaine that you need to know!

Brain Withdrawal After Being High

A further indication of cocaine is that the body goes through sudden drug withdrawal, even after one use. A cocaine high may last for up to an hour be resultant from the quality of the drug. When the out-turn of cocaine begins to dwindle, dopamine levels become more stable but can be experienced as a shortage. As a result, the user may feel “low” for a bit as a result of main withdrawal side effects.

Recurrent use of cocaine is an insincere way of strengthening dopamine and serotonin. In the near future, the brain becomes rewired to process less and less of the two chemicals and starts relying on cocaine to produce them. In this case, when the user stops doing cocaine, he faces depression, anxiety and other problems linked to serotonin and dopamine deficiency. (5)

Quitting Cocaine

The best way to quit cocaine safely is by seeking help from health professionals. It is strictly recommended that user attends an addiction treatment center so that they can be supervised by medical professionals properly.

It’s best to begin with, detoxification because your mood and vital signs should be managed first before you start to work on treatment. Total detox from cocaine can take several days, and the most advised course of action after detox is a stay in a rehab center.  Inpatient rehab will give you a safe, controlled atmosphere that’s separated from any potential relapse triggers or temptations to seek out drugs.

In treatment, you’ll learn skills and coping mechanisms to help you manage cravings and move forward in life without cocaine. Therapy will be a huge factor in learning to modify your behavior and your impulse control.

Successful cocaine addiction treatment helps your transition from addiction to recovery. You’ll begin to embrace new ideas and make meaningful changes in your everyday behavior.

Life After Treatment

Aftercare is just as beneficial as treatment. Many convalesced addicts give credit to a 12-step program for their continuous and long-term recovery. The 12-step program as outlined: (6)

  1. Acknowledging that you are not in control over the addiction
  2. Accepting that there is a higher power that can help you
  3. Deciding to submit yourself over to the higher power
  4. Undertaking a personal checklist
  5. Confessing to the higher power, oneself, and other people that you have done something wrong
  6. Being prepared to have the higher power to address any drawbacks in one’s character
  7. Beseeching the higher power to take out those imperfections
  8. Making a list of bad deeds done to others and be eager to make expiate for those bad deeds
  9. Approaching those who have been damaged or hurt in the past, unless doing so would harm the person
  10. Relentlessly taking personal inspection and conceding when one is wrong
  11. Be in pursuit of enlightenment and relationship with the higher power via prayer and meditation
  12. Conveying the message of the 12 Steps to others in need

There are many non-12-step addiction support groups that you can check and explore as well. In general, getting involved at some recuperation get-together is really necessary to equip you with social support.

Additionally, constant therapy or face-to-face counseling is helpful in keeping up with healing. Recovery is a process, and persistent maintenance is vital. All it takes is one small slip and the whole cycle has the possibility to start all over again.