Cocaine, a white powdery substance, produces energy and euphoria when it’s snorted, rubbed on the gums, injected or smoked, and it reacts with the central nervous system. It stimulates high levels of dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasurable feelings. However, over time, it negatively affects every part of the body.
About 5 million people over the age of 12 used cocaine in 2020. Since it’s an illegal substance, any use of cocaine is against the law. Addiction to cocaine can have serious consequences, particularly for the heart. The most frequent cause of death among cocaine users is a heart attack or a stroke.
What Is an Addiction to a Substance?
Substance addiction is a medical term that describes the continued abuse of drugs or alcohol even when the user has developed significant problems related to their use. It affects a person’s behavior and brain. If you want to know, “Is cocaine addictive?” the answer is yes, in almost every case.
In the case of someone addicted to cocaine, there’s a need for increased money to get the drugs to reproduce the high, the euphoric feeling that accompanies the use of drugs. If you’re addicted to cocaine, you continue to use the drug despite the negative effects on your body.
Warning signs that you or a loved one may be addicted to cocaine include changes in behavior and mood. Users become particularly aggressive when confronted about cocaine use and often try to manipulate friends and family to maintain their addiction. Other signs include low motivation at work or home, lapses in personal hygiene and suicidal, and in some cases homicidal, thoughts.
When Does the Use of a Drug Become an Addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as “a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”
Some of the signs of cocaine addiction include:
- You must use the drug daily or several times a day
- Urges for the drug overwhelm any other thoughts
- You increasingly need more of the drug to get the same effect as the first time you used it
- Even if you can’t afford it, you spend more money on the drug
- Even though you know the drug is ruining your relationships and hurting your body and your mind, you continue to use it
- You spend increasing amounts of time trying to get the drug and then recovering from its use.
What Are Substance Addicts Chasing?
Most people addicted to cocaine will tell you the primary reason they use the drug is to get the “buzz,” that euphoric high mentioned above. Cocaine addiction can also leave you feeling invincible and, in some cases, even supernatural. You crave the feeling that you’re breaking free from reality and creating your world.
However, the buzz never lasts. Many people become liars and thieves to maintain their cocaine habit. Although you may never have thought of stealing anything in your life, once you become addicted to cocaine, you’ll do anything to get the money to buy the drug. You lose relationships with friends and family, and you become a slave to your addiction.
Long-Term Health Effects of Substance Abuse
Numerous health problems develop when you have a substance abuse disorder (SUD). A SUD creates complications that affect your health and interfere with your body’s ability to function normally. Health problems created include:
- Numerous heart issues, including irregular rhythms, stroke and cardiac arrest
- Smoking crack cocaine can cause damage to the lungs that leads to scarring that won’t heal
- Many people addicted to cocaine also have problems using alcohol and other drugs, which can seriously damage the liver
- Cocaine use causes stomach problems that include reflux, severe constipation and abdominal pain
Doctors at the University of California in San Francisco conducted an extensive study in 2017 that looked at the effects of SUDs on patients’ overall health. They compared an equal number of patients with SUDs and those without them. Their findings showed a strong connection between people with substance abuse issues and 19 major medical illnesses, including:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Frequent injuries
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Chronic pain
- Hepatitis C
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Respiratory deficits
A 2020 study in Ohio found that patients with hypertension who also had a SUD had a much greater risk for morbidity and death. Another study done in 2020 found that cocaine use “is associated with significantly greater risk of adverse cardiovascular and respiratory diagnoses and all-cause mortality.”
What Happens When Substance Abuse Is Stopped Cold Turkey?
Bad things. Cold turkey is stopping use of a substance too quickly without any substitute. When someone with an addiction to cocaine tries to stop using it too quickly, they can develop severe complications, including irregular heart rhythms, seizures, tremors, hallucinations, paranoia and other life-threatening symptoms. Worse, many of the symptoms are severe enough to drive cocaine users back to the drug rather than face the effects of withdrawal.
Trying to quit cocaine on your own can be extremely dangerous. Your nervous system has become used to the dopamine high delivered by cocaine addiction.
Why Substance Addiction Needs Treatment
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the goal of treatment for any substance abuse disorder, including addiction to cocaine, is to help people be functional and productive once again, whether within their family structure, the workplace or the community. People who receive and remain in treatment stop using cocaine, increase or end any criminal activity, restore relationships with friends and family and improve their social and occupational lives.
Like any other medical condition, cocaine addiction can be treated successfully. However, if you seek treatment, the outcome of your treatment will depend upon the extent of your addiction and finding the right treatment for your situation. This includes treating your addiction and the health complications that result from it and the quality of the relationship you have with your treatment providers. Successful treatment includes continual evaluation and modification to ensure you’re receiving the proper treatment at the right time. Receiving ongoing treatment with dedicated health care professionals’ support can help you overcome your addiction.
If you or a loved one is addicted to cocaine and you know it’s time to stop, we’re here to help. Our compassionate team of counselors at Sunlight Recovery is standing by 24/7 to take your call. Contact us today by calling us at (877) 342-1460. You can start your journey to recovery today.