While it might come as a shock to many, statistics show that cocaine use is widespread throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, some individuals will fall into the tight grip of this substance without realizing its power. Users of cocaine often say that it makes them feel invincible and that it allows them access to parts of their minds that otherwise they couldn’t. As drug abuse continues to impact many communities, we need to understand and acknowledge the reasons behind the addiction, which will help in assisting those around us who may be affected by it.
Cocaine comes from the coca plant of the Andes Mountains. The manufacturing process involves taking the leaves of the plant and refining them into the powerful drug through several steps. After harvesting, the leaves are soaked in gasoline, a step that initiates the extraction of the foundational cocaine alkaloid. This mixture is then subjected to several chemicals, from acidified water to solvents like kerosene, which helps refine it into a concentrated paste. This paste, still not in its final form, is then combined with hydrochloric acid, resulting in the powdered cocaine that’s often further adulterated with various fillers, from talcum powder to other drugs. There’s also “crack” cocaine, an even more potent version, which is produced by cooking powdered cocaine with baking soda. Considering the harsh chemicals and refining stages, it’s evident that the final product is unhealthy and dangerous to ingest.
Cocaine is found in a few forms, with its method of consumption often dictated by its form:
Snorting: Snorting is the most common method of cocaine use. It involves inhaling the drug through the nostrils, where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Cocaine in powder form is the standard form for snorting.
Injecting: While quite rare, some users mix cocaine with water and use a syringe to inject it directly into the bloodstream. This method can produce an intense and immediate high, but it also poses extreme dangers.
Smoking: In its base form, often referred to as “crack” cocaine, the drug can be smoked. When smoked, cocaine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs, providing an almost instantaneous high. This can damage the airways and lungs over time.
Cocaine is primarily addictive because it’s an extremely powerful stimulant. When you ingest cocaine, it skyrockets dopamine levels – a neurotransmitter linked with pleasure and reward. This causes users to experience euphoria, increased energy, and a heightened sense of alertness. The intense high it causes can seem very attractive and fun. In summary, cocaine is addictive because it causes a psychological need to recapture this same euphoric feeling over and over again. Over time, a user’s brain may start associating the drug with a shortcut to happiness. When people believe that all they need to do to be happy is snort a line of cocaine, that is where the addiction loop is complete, and they can become stuck in the throes of a habit that’s tough to break.
Like all things, the euphoric sensation from cocaine doesn’t last forever. After the high, users may experience a crash. What does this crash look like? Fatigue, depression, and an intense craving for more cocaine are typical symptoms. This is because cocaine disrupts the natural harmony of dopamine in your brain. When the drug wears off, there’s a serious deficit, leading to depressive feelings. The top of the world high a user experiences at first soon fades, leaving the user in a lowly and depressive state. This crash can cause many cocaine users to simply snort another line to feel better, kickstarting a terrible cycle of addiction.
Cocaine, like many drugs, loses its potency when an individual chooses to use it again and again. This happens because a person’s brain starts adapting to the frequent dopamine spikes, leading to increased tolerance. If this occurs, a user may need more of the drug to get the same euphoric feeling. This not only puts an immense strain on one’s mental health but poses severe physical health risks as well.
Withdrawals from cocaine can be an incredibly challenging phase. Symptoms vary from fatigue, increased appetite, and agitated behavior to vivid and unpleasant dreams. Physiologically, the brain is craving the dopamine boost it’s used to from cocaine use. Emotionally and mentally, addicted individuals may grapple with anxiety, depression, and a strong desire to use more cocaine. This underlines the essence of professional rehab in navigating the tough path to recovery. Very few people have the mental will to struggle through the withdrawals.
Addiction isn’t just a one-time event. It’s a cycle. The highs, the crashes, and increased tolerance all create a continuous loop. Once addicted, the memory of the high is the only thing someone who is struggling with cocaine use may think of. Even after getting clean, triggers like stress or specific environments can evoke intense cravings, making relapse a looming threat.
The journey with cocaine, from that first high to the agonizing pull of addiction, is a testimony to the drug’s potent influence on the brain. It’s more than just a choice; it’s a battle with brain chemistry. Understanding this is vital not only for potential users but for society at large to approach substance abuse with empathy and support.
If you or someone close to you is having trouble with a cocaine addiction, know that there’s hope. Recovery is feasible, and wellness is within reach. At Jackson House, our commitment is to guide you through every step of the journey towards reclaiming your life, because your mental health and physical wellness are worth fighting for. Embrace the promise of a drug-free future. Connect with us today.