Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug that is often used as a recreational substance. It is made from the extracts of the coca plant found in South America. Cocaine is an illegal substance that is often abused by teenagers seeking thrills. Health care providers generally use this drug for authentic and valid medical purposes like local anesthesia for some particular surgeries but as a street drug it appears to be a fine crystal like powder, white in color. The street dealers add with it cornstarch, talcum powder or flour to raise their profit income, not only this many times they mix with it other stimulant amphetamine drugs.
Cocaine is often snorted or inhaled or rubbed onto the gums. It can also be injected directly into the bloodstream and is often taken combined with heroin. Another frequently used method is smoking cocaine which is processed to form a rock crystal also known as “freebase cocaine”. The crystal is the heated to produce vapors that are inhaled into the lungs. This form of cocaine is generally referred to as Crack, derived from the crackling sound that comes when the rock is heated .People who take cocaine do so repeatedly within short intervals, increasing their dose after each interval to maintain their state of pleasure. The high of the drug typically lasts from 10 to 20 minutes.
As cocaine is a stimulant, it targets and increases the production of dopamine in the body. Dopamine is the “happy” hormone; it is released during incidents when the body feels pleasure or expects rewards. Hence, cocaine produces a euphoric effect on the user. The drug taker feels happy and mentally alert. The body metabolism increases and the user becomes extremely sensitive to changes in the environment. As the euphoria decreases, the user becomes irritable and paranoid, showing distrust of others around them.
The effects of cocaine can be observed immediately and disappear in about just few minutes or an hour to the maximum. The method of use determines the intensity and time period of the drug.
As the high of the drug reduces, the user becomes agitated and fidgets a lot. The user becomes hyper and shows uncurbed enthusiasm. The body also begins to exhibit symptoms of colds, i.e., runny noses, and bloodshot eyes, as well as increased heart rate and breathing.
Prolonged use of cocaine leads to increased chances of heart disease, due to the increased metabolism the drug provokes. The risk of strokes and brain damage is also increased; the drug is also linked to greater chances of kidney failure. If the user snorts the drug, the nasal passages slowly decay over time leading to loss of smell, nosebleeds, and swelling of the sinuses. If the user injects the drug, the risk of contracting HIV and other blood-borne diseases are increased as many cocaine abusers share needles.
After years of cocaine abuse, the user becomes malnourished as cocaine causes a loss of appetite and contracts movement disorders such as Parkinson’s. Hallucinations become a part of daily life due to the paranoia induced by the drug. Furthermore, there is a very high risk that the drug abuser could overdose on cocaine. There are high chances of overdosing on the very first usage of cocaine. An overdose usually results in a heart attack or stroke.
If timely medical attention is taken, the overdose can be reversed. However, the higher chance is that the overdose will kill the user. Cocaine stimulates the reward center of the brain and repeated use conditions the body to crave cocaine in order to replicate the same rush of excess dopamine brought on by the drug. If the drug isn’t administered in increased quantities regularly, the user experiences withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, depression, and fatigue.
Cocaine addiction can be treated in drug rehabilitation centers and behavioral therapy. Even though no drugs exist to cure the addiction, researchers are working on creating such medication.