Cocaine Dependence

Cocaine Dependence

Cocaine Dependence

Cocaine dependence is a form of physical and psychological dependence that develops from regular cocaine use, with the user taking more and more in the belief it will help them to function properly. Withdrawal states include emotional-motivational deficits and high-level cravings. People with cocaine dependence can also develop tolerance, needing increased amounts of the drug to achieve the desired effect or “hit.”

Cocaine is a highly addictive, potent stimulant due to its effect on the reward pathways in the brain. It acts by increasing the number of feel-good chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin.

Cocaine dependence leads to numerous psychiatric and legal issues, personality changes, and an obsession with having “enough” cocaine at the expense of any other job, school, or relational activity or relationship.

Cocaine is commonly snorted, inhaled as smoke, rubbed on the gums, or dissolved and injected into a vein. Effects usually begin within seconds to minutes of use and last between 5 to 30 minutes. Street names include blow, crack, coke, snow, and rock; and might come mixed with talcum powder, flour, or cornstarch to appear more substantial.

Prevalence

Cocaine usage by 18- to 25-year-olds is increasing every year — up 61% in 2015 compared to 2013 numbers and causing related deaths to rise as well. 2015 numbers show approx. 5% of young adults are cocaine users.

Effects of Cocaine use

Mental and behavioral effects (long and short term) may include:

  • Euphoria – an intense feeling of happiness
  • Mental alertness or slowness
  • Agitation, restlessness, extreme anxiety
  • Aggression – behavior can become violent and unpredictable
  • Confusion
  • High amounts of energy and increased talkativeness
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Emotional, intellectual, and mental impairments
  • Profound changes in personality

Physical effects may include:

  • Increased body temperature and sweating
  • Irregular or rapid heart rate, heart attack
  • High blood pressure from constricted blood vessels leading to a stroke
  • Dilated / Large pupils
  • Weight loss – emaciated and malnourished appearance
  • Emaciated and malnourished appearance
  • Insatiable hunger
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Persistent runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia / hypersomnia
  • Vertigo, tremors and twitches, or seizure
  • Hypersensitivity to touch, sight, and sound

Risk Factors for Cocaine use:

Many habitual abusers of cocaine develop physical and psychotic symptoms and long-term psychiatric disorders such as:

  • Loss of contact with reality and/or “losing their mind”
  • Severe paranoia
  • Auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations – the latter can include the feeling of something crawling under the skin (formication), also known as “coke bugs”
  • Damage to heart muscle
  • New-onset ADHD
  • Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Low resistance to lung infections, asthma, chronic cough (if smoked or vaped)
  • Severe bowel decay (if ingested)
  • Swallowing problems, loss of sense of smell (if snorted)
  • Blood-borne infections and diseases, skin infections, scarred or collapsed veins (if injected)

These symptoms can last for weeks or, in some cases, even months.

When drug use suddenly stops, the user will experience cocaine withdrawal, comedown, or crash. The symptoms of this include irritability, depression, anxiety, exhaustion, generalized aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, lashing out in anger, insomnia or hypersomnia, increased appetite, vivid and unpleasant dreams, brain to body action retardation or agitation, and compulsive cravings.

Causes of Cocaine dependence:

Cocaine dependence often coexists with other mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder and suicidal behavior.

Cocaine dependence can cause impairment in functioning in social, academic, and work settings; and it can negatively affect interpersonal relationships. A person with cocaine dependence may amass huge amounts of debt to fund their addiction.

Cocaine use complications:

Complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death from cardiac arrest. Those who smoke it can experience severe lung problems.

There is also the increased risk of acquiring blood-borne viruses such as HIV in users who inject and share needles.

Treatment for Cocaine Dependence:

A person with cocaine dependence can receive help from:

  • Rehab – treatment in residential and supervised rehabilitation centers
  • Medications – can significantly reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. Some choices are:

    • Beta blockers – to slow down the adrenaline / flight or fight response
    • Antidepressants
    • Anti-anxiety meds
    • Nonaddictive sleep aids
  • Home withdrawal programs
  • Motivational and cognitive-behavioral therapies – teach new thinking patterns and coping methods, and recognition of usage triggers through one-on-one and group therapy
  • Community support groups – such as Narc-Anon and Cocaine-Anon

Effects of Cocaine use:

Mental and behavioral effects (long and short term) may include:

  • Euphoria – an intense feeling of happiness
  • Mental alertness or slowness
  • Agitation, restlessness, extreme anxiety
  • Aggression – behavior can become violent and unpredictable
  • Confusion
  • High amounts of energy and increased talkativeness
  • Mood swings, irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Emotional, intellectual, and mental impairments
  • Profound changes in personality

Physical effects may include:

  • Increased body temperature and sweating
  • Irregular or rapid heart rate, heart attack
  • High blood pressure from constricted blood vessels leading to a stroke
  • Dilated / Large pupils
  • Weight loss – emaciated and malnourished appearance
  • Emaciated and malnourished appearance
  • Insatiable hunger
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Persistent runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia / hypersomnia
  • Vertigo, tremors and twitches, or seizure
  • Hypersensitivity to touch, sight, and sound

Risk Factors for Cocaine use:

Many habitual abusers of cocaine develop physical and psychotic symptoms and long-term psychiatric disorders such as:

  • Loss of contact with reality and/or “losing their mind”
  • Severe paranoia
  • Auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations – the latter can include the feeling of something crawling under the skin (formication), also known as “coke bugs”
  • Damage to heart muscle
  • New-onset ADHD
  • Movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Low resistance to lung infections, asthma, chronic cough (if smoked or vaped)
  • Severe bowel decay (if ingested)
  • Swallowing problems, loss of sense of smell (if snorted)
  • Blood-borne infections and diseases, skin infections, scarred or collapsed veins (if injected)

These symptoms can last for weeks or, in some cases, even months.

When drug use suddenly stops, the user will experience cocaine withdrawal, comedown, or crash. The symptoms of this include irritability, depression, anxiety, exhaustion, generalized aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, lashing out in anger, insomnia or hypersomnia, increased appetite, vivid and unpleasant dreams, brain to body action retardation or agitation, and compulsive cravings.

Causes of Cocaine use:

Cocaine dependence often coexists with other mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder and suicidal behavior.

Cocaine dependence can cause impairment in functioning in social, academic, and work settings; and it can negatively affect interpersonal relationships. A person with cocaine dependence may amass huge amounts of debt to fund their addiction.

Cocaine use complications:

Complications of cocaine use include heart attacks, strokes, and sudden death from cardiac arrest. Those who smoke it can experience severe lung problems.

There is also the increased risk of acquiring blood-borne viruses such as HIV in users who inject and share needles.

Treatment for Cocaine Dependence:

A person with cocaine dependence can receive help from:

  • Rehab – treatment in residential and supervised rehabilitation centers
  • Medications – can significantly reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. Some choices are:

    • Beta blockers – to slow down the adrenaline / flight or fight response
    • Antidepressants
    • Anti-anxiety meds
    • Nonaddictive sleep aids
  • Home withdrawal programs
  • Motivational and cognitive-behavioral therapies – teach new thinking patterns and coping methods, and recognition of usage triggers through one-on-one and group therapy
  • Community support groups – such as Narc-Anon and Cocaine-Anon
Sources DRUGABUSE.gov – Cocaine | SAMSHA – Cocaine use in young adults | DRUGABUSE.gov – Cocaine | COCAINE.org – Medications | ADDICTIONRECOVERYGUIDE – Detoxification