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Understanding Cocaine Addiction

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Cocaine is the second most illegally trafficked drug in the world. Its use is widespread across people of diverse age groups, economic background and occupation. Hence we need more awareness around cocaine addiction and its treatment options to prevent the rampant drug use and help the youngsters say no to cocaine addiction.

What is Cocaine?

Coke, Aunt Nora, Crack, Blow, Snow, etc, are some of the street names cocaine is recognised by. It is a powerful stimulant, extracted from coca leaves and is generally available in powder or crystal form. Cocaine is often mixed with other substances like cornstarch, powdered sugar, talcum powder etc. for use.

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How does it work?

Cocaine stimulates the key pleasure centres of the brain by increasing the availability of neurotransmitter dopamine, causing a temporary euphoria or a rush of energy. Once the high wears off, the user experiences a psychological desire to use the drug again. Thus, what begins as recreational use, often leads to cocaine addiction. The threshold of cocaine tolerance also increases, prompting higher consumption to experience a similar high as before. This puts an addict at a risk of a lethal overdose.

Cocaine is consumed in different ways.

  • Snorting -. The snorted cocaine powder takes a while to induce its effect and can last up to 30 minutes, depending on the quantity.
  • Smoking – It is yet another popular methods of cocaine consumption. The rock crystal cocaine, also known as Freebase cocaine, are heated and the vapors are inhaled into the lungs. Smoking speeds up the absorption in the body, but the amount of drug vapors inhaled can be controlled. The high is almost immediate, but lasts only for 5-10 minutes. This usually prompts drug re-use or even binge consumption.
  • Injection – The drug is dissolved in the water and injected directly into the bloodstream. This leads to the rapid drug absorption in the body. However the risk of overdose increases substantially, along with additional risks of spreading blood borne viruses, HIV and Hepatitis C.
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Take the first step

Cocaine addiction over time can interfere with the way the brain processes chemicals, thereby increasing the drug dependence. The fatal ill-effects of cocaine dependence range from

  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Depression
  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Kidney damage, or
  • Death (in case of overdose).

Battling cocaine addiction takes a toll on one’s physical as well as mental health, as the craving for the drug is too strong to shake off easily. Continued therapy – both, behavioural as well as pharmacological, along with a proper support system can help an addict overcome cocaine dependence and stay sober.

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