Understanding and Getting Off of Cocaine
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that can numb pain and create a sense of euphoria. Cocaine is highly addictive because it increases the amount of the pleasure transmitter dopamine in the brain, causing an increase in energy and pleasure. Cocaine is only legal for medical procedures. It is sometimes applied to the skin as anesthesia during ear, eye, or throat surgeries
Effective cocaine addiction treatment in North Carolina is available at Tree House Recovery. Reach out to our team today at 910-812-1728 if you or a loved one is ready to take the first step in substance abuse treatment.
Where Does Cocaine Come From?
Cocaine comes from the oils of the coca plant, which grows naturally in most of South America. Different South American tribes and cultures chewed or ate coca leaves for thousands of years for their stimulant and pain-killing effects. In 1860, German chemist Albert Niemann isolated the active ingredient of coca leaves, which he called cocaine. In 1865, Niemann’s disciple Wilhelm Lossen discovered cocaine’s proper chemical formula and its numbing effects. But cocaine didn’t gain recognition in the medical community until 1884 when chemist Carl Koller proved its pain dulling effects for eye procedures.
Over the next 20 years, cocaine became popular in America and Europe . Companies added cocaine to tonics and elixirs to treat a wide variety of ailments. In the late 1800s, cocaine was the main ingredient in an early form of the popular soft drink Coca-Cola . After abuse of the drug soared, the U.S. effectively banned the sale and ownership of cocaine in 1914 .
What Does Cocaine Look Like?
Most commonly, cocaine looks like a fine white or off-white powder. Raw cocaine looks white or off-white and is made up of crystals clumped together—similar to a large piece of ice or hale.
When cocaine is smuggled from country to country, it is often transported in bricks that weigh two to three pounds each. Unlike powder cocaine on the street, the cocaine in these bricks is usually solid.
How is Cocaine Used?
Cocaine’s use in the modern medical world is extremely limited due to its addictive potential. Doctors apply it to the skin to numb sensitive areas like the ears, throat, or eyes in rare cases. Cocaine is never used medically for its behavioral effects.
People who abuse cocaine either inhale it through the nose (called snorting), dissolve it in liquid so that it can be injected into the bloodstream, or rub it into the gums. It is also possible to smoke cocaine, but this requires a lengthy and dangerous process called freebasing to change cocaine’s formula and consistency into crack cocaine. But because cocaine is much more expensive than crack, those who buy cocaine tend to snort or inject it.
People who abuse cocaine also tend to mix it with other drugs—usually alcohol or opioids. Cocaine’s effects allow people to use higher quantities of these other substances, which is why the combinations are so dangerous. Once cocaine wears off, a person can have a delayed overdose.
Cocaine Is Used:
- Nasally (snorting)
- Orally (rubbing it into the gums)
- Intravenously (Injection)
- Inhalation (Smoking it after it’s been modified to crack)
Dangers of Cocaine:
Cocaine is a dangerous stimulant that elevates your central nervous system’s activity, much like an adrenaline rush. Cocaine’s high puts a lot of stress on the heart, lungs, and kidneys. When used at too high a dose or for too long, this stress can overwhelm your organs, causing cocaine toxicity or overdose. Additionally, there is no standard dose of cocaine. A low amount for someone could be a lethal dosage for a different person.
Cocaine Overdose Rates:
Speedball Overdose Rates:Another danger of cocaine use occurs when people mix it with opioids like heroin to create a speedball, which is a leading cause of overdose deaths for cocaine. In 2019, 71% of all cocaine overdoses were speedball-related .
Cocaine Overdose Graph:
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine gives a person euphoric feelings and overwhelming amounts of energy. When the drug wears off, they crash into a temporary depressive state where they have very little energy. So the signs that somebody may be using cocaine are all related to these high-highs and low-lows.
- White stains on clothes
- Sexual impotence
- Small pupils
- High body temperature
- Large dark circles around eyes
- Weight loss
- Bloody noses
- Odd sleep patterns
Changes in Behavior
Cocaine is a stimulant that lasts 20-60 minutes. While its effects last, a person experiences incredibly high energy levels and mood. But when the effects wear off, a person can experience a severe drop in energy and mood, even below normal levels.
- Periods of laziness followed by periods of high energy
- Social isolation followed by extreme socialization
- Little to no appetite
- Short attention span
- Paranoia or anxiety
- Sudden irritation or aggression
- Bursts of euphoria and increased energy levels
Side Effects of Cocaine:
Because of how stimulants affect the brain, cocaine creates euphoria and high amounts of energy while its effects last. However, once these effects wear off, the user will experience the opposite effects until their brain readjusts. This period is sometimes called “coming down” or “crashing.” As a result, cocaine causes the following effects:
- Feelings of euphoria
- Increased energy
- Enlarged self-esteem
- Elevated mood
- Irritability and anxiety
- Detachment from reality (psychosis or delirium)
- Heart failure
Common Names for Cocaine
As with most commonly abused drugs, people who illegally use cocaine may refer to it using street names to discuss it in public places. If you hear someone using one of these terms, it could be a sign that they are using cocaine and would benefit from a cocaine addiction treatment program:
Cocaine Street Names
- Nose Candy
- Aunt Nora
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Cocaine creates an abundance of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, which is responsible for pleasure. However, when cocaine wears off, the brain is in a severe shortage of dopamine which creates depressive symptoms. Because of how short cocaine’s effects are, most users counteract these by using more cocaine. Unfortunately, this will only make the withdrawal symptoms even worse the next time around. Repeated use of cocaine will also build tolerance and physical dependency, and eventually, the withdrawal will include physical symptoms. All possible cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Trouble concentrating
- Slow thinking (brain fog)
- Getting quickly tired after any activity.
- Inability to experience sexual arousal
- Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure
- Depression or anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Vivid, unpleasant dreams or nightmares
- Muscle aches
- Increased craving for cocaine
Our cocaine addiction treatment program in North Carolina can help you or a loved one get through withdrawal and learn tools to manage cravings.
Cocaine Overdose Symptoms
Cocaine overdose can be particularly dangerous because the drug’s euphoric effects can make the victim unable to notice side effects until they are more severe or until the drug wears off. If you believe someone is overdosing on cocaine, it’s crucial to call 911 right away. There is no antidote for a cocaine overdose. But medical professionals can use other drugs to lower a person’s heart rate and temperature, which are the most common causes of death in cocaine overdoses.
While you wait for an ambulance, you must keep the person calm so that their heart rate does not elevate any further. Try to distract them or do breathing exercises. If they feel hot, use ice or cold packs to keep their body temperature at normal levels. Symptoms of cocaine overdose include:  
- Irregular heart rate
- Severely elevated heart rate
- High blood pressure.
- High Fever
- Anxiety, agitation, or violence
- Detachment from reality
Cocaine Addiction Treatment in North Carolina at Tree House Recovery
Fully recovering from cocaine addiction requires three things. The first is a detox to end any physical dependence. The second is entering recovery to find and address the root cause of why you became addicted to cocaine and why you enjoy the feelings it creates. The final part is creating a maintenance plan that includes individualized tools and strategies to help you cope with life stressors without cocaine.
Medical Detox from Cocaine
While cocaine detox isn’t life-threatening like alcohol or benzodiazepines, it is uncomfortable. It is much more successful when done in a medical setting. Those who try to detox by themselves often use more cocaine after a few days to end the withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox can help keep you more comfortable and decrease the amount and intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. However, detox doesn’t help you address why you became addicted to cocaine. For long-term sobriety, you need to address the cause of your addiction in a cocaine addiction treatment program.
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