Cocaine addiction is a rampant phenomenon that continues to have staggering effects on the lives of countless individuals across the UK. People suffering from this condition often feel alone and overwhelmed as they struggle with their habits. In fact, the UK had the highest number of cocaine users in Europe in 2020. Cocaine addiction is a difficult cycle to break and it is important to understand the different aspects of this substance and its effects on people’s lives so you can help yourself or loved ones affected by cocaine addiction.
What is cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful, habit-forming stimulant that is derived from the coca plant. Most commonly, it is used recreationally as a powder and can be snorted, injected or smoked. It produces feelings of euphoria, alertness and energy by temporarily blocking the normal breakdown of dopamine in the brain so that concentrations increase. Although these short-term effects may make cocaine abuse seem desirable, its long-term use can lead to psychological dependence and physical changes in the brain’s structure and function.
What are the effects of cocaine use?
Cocaine provides an intense, yet temporary euphoria that fades quickly and encourages compulsive use. Users also report feelings of:
- Boost in confidence
- Increased level of energy
- Greater productivity
- Improved alertness and greater mental clarity.
- More comfortability in social situations
This can lead to dependency as users seek to maintain the initial high experience. With regular consumption of cocaine comes a heightened risk of anxiety and paranoia in addition to other potentially negative mental health outcomes.
How does a cocaine addiction arise?
Cocaine addiction develops as a result of repeated cocaine intake. Each time cocaine is taken, the user’s brain begins to associate the experience with pleasure and reward, which reinforces its use and increases the likelihood of continued or increased usage. This craving for more is due to the stimulation of certain dopamine receptors in the brain, resulting in euphoric effects that are usually short-lived.
This creates a cycle in which users find themselves unable to resist the urge to consume more cocaine. As usage increases, it can lead to both physical and psychological dependence, resulting in withdrawal symptoms if access to cocaine is limited or eliminated. Long-term dependence can then lead to even greater danger for both physical and mental health.
5 things to know about cocaine addiction
- Individuals developing an addiction to cocaine can do so quickly; both recreational use and dependence-forming usage may occur within a short period of time.
- Drug dealers often mix, or “cut” cocaine with other substances such as talcum powder, fentanyl or flour to increase their profits.
- Treating a cocaine addiction requires more than just abstaining from use – proper therapeutic treatment is essential for addressing the underlying causes behind the addictive behaviour.
- Recognising signs of relapse is vital in understanding and managing relapses because early detection and proper support can help avoid a total relapse into substance misuse.
- Withdrawal symptoms can be severe: Withdrawal from cocaine can cause a range of physical and psychological symptoms, including fatigue, depression, anxiety and intense cravings. In some cases, withdrawal can be dangerous and medical supervision may be necessary.
Understanding these five facts about cocaine addiction is important for anyone looking to prevent or address substance abuse issues in themselves or their loved ones.
Why is a cocaine addiction dangerous?
Cocaine addiction is a serious health issue with dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects. In addition to its potential for physical damage, cocaine addiction can lead to significant psychological harm, including mood disturbances and behavioural changes. Over time, these effects can interfere with work, relationships and overall quality of life.
What are the signs you or a loved one have developed a cocaine addiction?
If you’re concerned that you or someone you care for may be addicted to cocaine, here are some questions to ask:
- Are you taking more cocaine and more often than you intended?
- Has your cocaine use caused tension in your personal relationships?
- Do you prioritise cocaine over everything else in your life?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms and if you haven’t used cocaine for a while?
- Do you feel unable to stop taking cocaine even though you want to?
- Have you lied to loved ones about your cocaine use?
- Have you started experiencing physical or mental health issues since using cocaine?
- Have you lost interest in activities that don’t involve cocaine?
What are the long-term effects of cocaine abuse?
Long-term cocaine abuse and dependence can lead to serious health consequences, both mental and physical and mental.
Physical side effects…
- Increased heart rate
- Heart inflammation and damage
- Possible heart attack or stroke
- Damage to blood vessels
- Kidney damage
- Nasal septum problems
- Skin conditions around the nose
Mental side effects…
- Violent, aggressive behaviour
- Hallucinations and delirium
- Suicidal thoughts
If you or a loved one are suffering from any of these side effects after using cocaine, it is vital that you reach out for medical attention immediately.
What are the signs of a cocaine overdose?
Cocaine is a powerful and dangerous stimulant drug that can have serious health risks when abused. Consuming cocaine in high doses or over an extended period of time can lead to an overdose, with potentially fatal consequences. Be aware of the signs of a potential overdose such as:
- Weak pulse
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Bluish lips and nails
- Muscle spasticity
- Constricted pupils
- Slow breathing
- Dry mouth
If you think that you or a loved one has overdosed on cocaine, it is important to seek medical help immediately for the best chance of survival.
Are you enabling a cocaine addiction?
If your loved one is experiencing cocaine addiction, of course you will have the urge to help by any means necessary… but are you enabling?
Signs that you could be enabling cocaine addiction include:
- Ignoring the issue and pretending everything is fine
- Not following through with set boundaries
- Making excuses for the addict’s behaviour
- Putting the addict’s needs before your own
- Giving them money and supporting them financially
- Taking on their responsibilities or commitments yourself
- Lying on their behalf to protect them from consequences
As good as your intentions may be, these actions only sustain your loved one’s cocaine addiction and delay recovery. Breaking the habit of enabling is not easy and it is important to take care of yourself, find your own support group and seek professional help.
The pathway to sobriety from cocaine addiction for you or a loved one is certainly not easy but there is treatment available. Typically the path starts with a medically assisted cocaine detox and is followed by cocaine rehab, which may make use of behavioural therapy to help you comprehensively recover from drug addiction.
If you are ready to realise lasting recovery, contact Banbury Lodge today to get on the course to a happy and healthy life.
Frequently asked questions
The health factors associated with cocaine addiction are numerous, including cardiac arrest, loss of muscle tissue and organ damage. However, psychological and social issues associated with cocaine abuse can also increase the risks of suicide or dangerous behaviour while under the influence.