Cocaine and its derivatives are popular drugs across the globe and contribute to the spread of drug epidemics. While coca leaves were traditionally consumed by the natives of South America for thousands of years, its main alkaloid cocaine was isolated in 1860. Cocaine was used in medicines, and soft drinks in developed countries until the early 1900s. However, after 1960, the illegal use of cocaine grew amongst certain groups in developed countries across North America and Europe and began to be treated as an energizer and self-esteem booster by young people.
This banned substance affects the central nervous system and stimulates an increase of dopamine in the brain, which makes the users feel euphoric. Over time, cocaine severely affects the body leading to permanent genetic and neurological damage.
Effects of Short-term Use of Cocaine
Short-term use of cocaine can have the following effects:
- Increased body temperature
- Contraction in blood vessels
- Dilation of pupils
- Enhanced heart rate and blood pressure
Effects of Long-term Use of cocaine
Prolonged use of cocaine or its consumption in large amounts can be dangerous. It may result in:
- Sudden erratic and violent behaviour
- Restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic, and paranoia
- Vertigo and muscle twitches
- Cardiovascular problems such as abnormal heartbeat
- Headaches and seizures
- Abdominal pain and nausea
Rare cases of death after first-time use of cocaine or resulting from cardiac arrest or seizures due to consumption of this drug have also been reported.
What does Cocaine Addiction Mean?
Addiction to cocaine can be difficult to recognize. Dependency on the drug can make an individual ignore the grave consequences of consuming cocaine in spite of being aware of these. This is an indication that the person is addicted to cocaine.
It can be very difficult to overcome cocaine addiction – the individual shows a constant urge to use cocaine to retain the euphoric state. Gradually, dependence on the drug increases, the threshold for tolerance heightens, and one undergoes withdrawal symptoms when they want to stop its use. All this dependence is because cocaine stimulates the production of dopamine in the brain and reprograms the brain. The resulting effect is calming.
Most of the times, drug abuse and addiction are used synonymously, but these terms are not the same. While the abuse of cocaine results in ill consequences, one can overcome the effects on their own if they are determined to do so. On the contrary, cocaine addiction is much more complex and leads to many problems ranging from mild to severe. Severity of addiction can be identified from cocaine’s effect on the person’s work, personal life and social behaviour.
Rehabilitation for Cocaine Addicts
Certain inpatient rehabilitation centres provide for better ways to take control of cocaine consumption. The programs may last for 30 – 90 days, depending on the condition of the person. Experts maintain an environment where individuals who want to overcome cocaine addiction are not tempted into drug use of any kind. They keep a close watch on the individuals, treat the withdrawal symptoms and supervise the detoxification programs. These programs are intended to encourage people towards developing a strong will-power to lead a healthy, addiction-free life.
The rehabilitation program includes:
- Counselling about mental health
- Art therapy
- Cognitive behavioural sessions
- Discussion with support groups
- Discussion on relapse and its prevention
- Post-rehab self-care planning
The development of cocaine addiction is highly individualistic, and thus, the approach to de-addiction also needs special attention and care.