Cocaine is known as a Schedule II controlled substance, and the leisure use of cocaine is banned in the United States. It is categorized as such as it is known to be a substance that causes intense psychological and physical over-reliance and has a high likelihood of abuse by users. Though cocaine is highly addictive, it is not the same case for each user, as it depends on a lot of other factors. When dealing with users suffering from cocaine addiction, many tend to focus on the drug itself and overlook the withstanding history of the user’s mental health. Studies have shown that the percentage of addicted cocaine users is low; with roughly over 80% of them proving that they are not over dependant on the drug even after two years of using it. However, the other 20% are at high risk of developing a substance use disorder. Just like any other drug, users are susceptible to the harmful effects that it can cause. If you or a loved one have a cocaine addiction problem, it is beneficial for you to educate yourself about this drug so that you can better understand and help them. Read on to find out all you need to know about taking cocaine.
6 facts about cocaine addiction
- The time taken for cocaine to be absorbed into a person’s body and take effect depends on the mode of intake— whether it is injected, snorted, smoked or taken orally.
- Smoking crack cocaine or being at a young age when first ingesting cocaine is two factors that will lead to a high risk of developing a stimulant use disorder.
- It is possible to lower the risks of cocaine use with harm reduction strategies, but bear in mind that they cannot be eradicated altogether.
- After the first “crash”, the withdrawal symptoms from cocaine can last up to weeks and even months.
- Cocaine addiction, also known as stimulant use disorder in the DSM-5, is a condition classified by a wide range of criteria to be met; and one of them includes the experience of withdrawal symptoms.
Factors that determine potential cocaine addiction
Being a central nervous system stimulant, the pharmacological mechanism affects the potential stimulant use disorder that users can develop. Cocaine is one of the drugs that takes effect rapidly and also subsides quickly, causing users to desire the drug more in short periods of time. Also, cocaine is known to have a rather short half-life, which means that the high experienced by the user occurs promptly, depending on the mode of intake. If it is smoked, the effect comes almost immediately, as compared to the three to five minutes wait when snorted, and the fifteen to thirty minutes wait if injected.
The wearing-off effect that comes after also happens quickly, usually between one and three hours after taking the drug. This quick occurrence of withdrawal effects hence gives rise to the increasing pattern of use known as “binge and crash”, whereby it is characterized by the high intake for a period, followed by fatigue, lethargy and lower usage. The cycle continues, causing a higher risk of addiction in both animals and humans.
The extent of purity that cocaine contains is also another factor that determines potential cocaine addiction. The cocaine that users purchase from underground black markets is typically only about 10% pure as it is often mixed with other substances that taste, look and feel like cocaine. Such substances include pseudoephedrine, benzocaine, levamisole, and caffeine. Certain substances contain the higher risks of addiction, such as amphetamine and methamphetamine while others have cross-tolerance with cocaine, thus making them “weaker”.
Contexts of drug use
Studies have shown that users’ psychological and physical contexts of drug use, also known as the set and setting, has been proven to influence the likelihood of a user developing a substance use disorder. Taking cocaine under circumstances where one can derive pleasure may make it harder for one to enjoy the same setting in the future when the drug is not in use.
Animal and human studies have reflected a trend in using cocaine whenever food is controlled. This shows how users are more prone to cocaine use when they are on diets to aid weight loss; in order to suppress their appetites and increase their energy levels and metabolism rate.
Effects of cocaine use
While it is extremely pleasurable for some, cocaine is known to be unpredictable, which may encourage erratic social behavior, over-stimulation, higher risks of physical and psychological health issues, and even death in some cases of overdose.
Individuals suffering from low self-esteem, mental health issues like depression, anxiety and a family history of substance abuse and previous records of abuse are more susceptible to developing stimulant use disorder. If you have any of these issues, avoid cocaine usage as much as possible, and any other substances. You should also seek professional medical help for these issues, as specialists will be able to provide you with the necessary treatment.
Stimulant use disorder treatment
If you are already reliant on the drug, seek help from your doctor, as he or she will be able to help you cope with your withdrawal symptoms better by reducing them and lowering the chance of a relapse.
Comorbid conditions are also required to be treated in order to successfully manage stimulant use disorder. Since cocaine is normally used to treat other issues like mental health problems, without effectively targetting the root problem, cocaine use will likely continue even after medical help.
Hence, if you are trying to stop cocaine usage, it is crucial to also get supportive mental health treatment. There are various types of treatments available, and your doctor will be able to pick the best-suited one for your condition.
In a nutshell, even though cocaine is not extremely fatal or dangerous to your body, developing a stimulant use disorder may bring about adverse effects and undesirable side effects. Though the number of people developing cocaine addiction is low, you should always be wary when it comes to using substances, especially when they are not professionally prescribed by a medical practitioner. If you or a loved one is addicted to cocaine, seeking help as soon as possible will increase the effectiveness of the treatment, and get you out of the vicious “binge and crash” cycle. But of course, we know that taking cocaine may not the only addiction that individuals face. Alcohol abuse can be another struggle to deal with. So should you know of someone dealing with this, you can definitely seek help and learn more about treatment for drug abuse at Desert Hope Treatment’s website.