There is a lot of talk about cocaine, also known as “coke,” in general society. Celebrities have been known to do it, and movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street have shown the excesses connected with wealth and drugs, particularly cocaine. But there is much more to learn about this popular and often expensive drug that will bring some light to why cocaine addiction is such as significant social problem.
Types of Cocaine
Cocaine is available in three basic types :
- The powdery substance often portrayed in popular movies
- Freebase cocaine, which has a by-product of methylecgonidine and adversely effects cardiac tissue
- Crack cocaine, which has an appearance of small crystals or rocks.
Freebase and crack cocaine are both smoked and rapidly affect the brain, while powder cocaine is snorted or injected into the bloodstream.
What Does a Cocaine High Feel Like
The natural question about cocaine is what makes it so popular as a recreational drug. Users get their high from cocaine by what is basically an overproduction of dopamine in the body. What dopamine does in the brain is to regulate motivation, arousal, and reward, among other neurological functions. Increased levels of dopamine mean greater arousal, motivation, and reward for the user.
To step outside of the technical jargon and state the “positive” effects for the user, using cocaine will result in:
- Short term heightened mental alertness and hyperstimulation
- Euphoria – a general state of excitement and happiness
- Higher energy levels
- A greater sense of physical power
- Heightened sexual interest
- Greater sexual pleasure
For many people, these “positive” benefits are an escape from what is believed to be a dull or routine life, or a life that contains a serious amount of daily stress connected to it.
How Long does a Cocaine High Last
One of the reasons cocaine use is so dangerous is the relatively short life the drug has in the body. Depending on the method used, the duration of its effect is between 5 and 30 minutes. To maintain the high over along period of time requires frequent use. This is the obvious reason getting addicted to cocaine is so easy.
For regular long term users, cocaine can be detected in your urine as long as 2 or 3 months later. It can be detected in the bloodstream almost immediately after using it, but has a relatively short detection window of 48 hours, after which evidence of use is somewhat doubtful.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
There are a number of possible symptoms of cocaine addiction, but the presence of any one or combination of those signs do not clearly demonstrate an addiction problem. Mental health professionals recommend that if someone is suspected to be addicted to cocaine that they seek immediate help before the user’s problem intensifies. What follows are the most commonly recognized signs of addiction that should warrant a call to a mental health professional.
The use of cocaine does not make a person an addict. The likelihood of becoming an addict is high because of the multiple feel-good effects its use entails. Some of the more common warning signs of Coke addiction are:
- Trying to quit using it but always failing to do so. Like an alcoholic, many users believe they have control over its use when actually the reverse is true.
- They continually need more to achieve the same effect. This is a sign that the user themselves can realize, but their inability to put the brakes on shows a serious addiction problem.
- Sole preoccupation with getting high. When a user’s closest relationships and personal goals take second place to using cocaine, and they lose interest in almost every kind of personally enjoyable activity, addiction is almost certain to be a problem.
- Loss of appetite. Irregular or minimal eating habits are not a sure sign of addiction, but definitely is a problem that should raise a red flag.
Detoxing, the process of clinically removing the dependency of a person to cocaine, can be a difficult road for the addict to walk. With other forms of addiction, once the drug is removed from the bloodstream, the primary reason for the physiological addiction is gone and the patient can move forward to identify associated psychological causes. But because cocaine primarily affects the brain, simply removing it from the patient’s body does not translate into a reduced dependency.
Beyond the desire after stopping cocaine use, the long term effects of addiction have a number of psychological side effects including:
Thus, detoxing can take many years to see a positive outcome. Though the addiction may seem to be to the cocaine itself, the consistent overproduction of dopamine affects the entire body’s neurological system. Coke use can leave detectable metabolites in your body for weeks after last use.
Cocaine addiction is a serious problem primarily because the effect of the drug is both physiological and psychological. This presents a challenge since any hope of withdrawing from use requires a two pronged attack – physiological (removing the use) and psychological (removing the desire). Experienced health professionals find achieving these goals to be difficult without the presence of a support group.