Cocaine is a highly addictive drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. In its powder form, it is most often snorted but can also be liquified and injected. Crack is a crystallized form of the drug that is smoked. It is even more potent and addictive than powder cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant that impacts the central nervous system by blocking dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine transporters, causing a build-up of these neurotransmitters in the brain’s pleasure centers. This build-up produces feelings of exhilaration and euphoria that fuel the cycle of addiction. Because this cycle is challenging to break without professional intervention, a cocaine addiction treatment program offers the best chance for recovery.
Westwind Recovery® is a renowned addiction and mental health treatment facility in Los Angeles. If you or a loved one suffers from cocaine addiction, contact us at 855.340.8832 to learn about your many treatment options.
The Physical Effects of Cocaine Addiction
Like with many illicit drugs, cocaine has a long history. First introduced in the United States in the 1880s as an anesthetic for surgery, by the early 1900s, cocaine was widely used for an array of medicinal treatments until its side effects and addictive qualities were fully recognized. Cocaine became classified as a Schedule II drug in 1970. Though it is illegal as a recreational drug, cocaine remains the second most used illicit drug in the United States, behind marijuana. The United States is the world’s biggest consumer of cocaine.
Cocaine begins working almost immediately, creating a stimulative effect that makes the user feel euphoric, mentally alert, energetic, and talkative. The method in which it is used impacts the effects. For example, snorting cocaine does not produce as strong an effect as smoking or injecting it, but the high lasts longer. Once the effects have worn off, users experience a “crash” that includes depression and fatigue, promoting the desire for more of the drug. Thus begins the cycle of dependence that leads to addiction.
Both the short-term and long-term physical effects of cocaine addiction are serious. The most immediate risk is for overdose or sudden death caused by cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest. Other physical effects include:
- Weight loss due to loss of appetite
- Constricted blood vessels
- Nosebleeds and nasal infections
- Extreme insomnia
- Sexual dysfunction
- Chest pain and heart disease
Because cocaine use can make people feel invincible and impair judgment, they are also at higher risk of injury or illness caused by risk-taking behaviors such as driving at excessive speeds or sharing needles. Additionally, they are more likely to have other addictions because of the use of alcohol or other drugs to “come down.”
The Psychological Effects of Cocaine Addiction
In addition to the many physical effects of cocaine addiction, there are significant psychological effects as well. Repeated activation and overstimulation of the pleasure receptors in the brain alters its chemistry. It begins only to associate good feelings with the use of the drug, creating a psychological dependency. As a result, the individual believes that the only way to achieve or maintain a sense of well-being is to keep using cocaine.
Cocaine addiction affects the way an individual processes information and handles interpersonal relationships. Extreme mood swings, irritability, and agitation can contribute to difficulties maintaining healthy relationships. Long-term use can impact daily functioning to the degree that individuals cannot manage their responsibilities, leading to the further breakdown of relationships. Other psychological effects can include:
- Panic attacks
- High anxiety
- Aggression and violent outbursts
Habitual cocaine abuse has been linked to personality changes comparable to schizophrenia.
Reach Out to Westwind Recovery® for Cocaine Addiction Treatment
If cocaine abuse or addiction is causing problems in your life, the addiction specialists in the cocaine addiction treatment program at Westwind Recovery® are here to help. From providing a safe, supportive, medically supervised detox to uncovering the roots of your substance use disorder with evidence-based, holistic addiction treatment, through helping plan your aftercare, the Westwind Recovery® team will support you each step of the way. When you are ready to take back control of your life, contact us at 855.340.8832.
Dr. Deena is the Chief Clinical Officer of Westwind Recovery®, an award-winning outpatient treatment center in Los Angeles where she oversees the clinical and administrative program and treatment methods. Dr. Deena is a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker since 1993. LCSW #20628. Originally from the East Coast, Dr. Deena has worked running treatment centers, worked as a therapist in psychiatric hospitals as well as school settings and currently has a thriving private practice in the LA area. Dr. Deena has appeared regularly on the Dr. Phil Show as an expert since 2003. She has also been featured on many other TV shows, podcasts and has contributed to written publications as well as podcasts.