Understanding Cocaine AddictionEach day in America, thousands of people over the age of 12 try cocaine for the first time. Of the individuals who try cocaine, around 75 percent of them will become addicted to the powerful stimulating effects of the drug. Those addicted to the drug account for a whopping 1.5 million people throughout the country. While this is a staggering figure, the number of people who are affected by cocaine addiction spans much further than the addict themselves. Friends, family members, children, and significant others who care for the addict are left confused, frustrated, worried, and hurt by the actions of the addict. One of the most commonly expressed sentiments by these loved ones is that they just simply do not understand the addiction.

What Is Cocaine?

To understand the actions of an addict, you must first gain a better understanding of the drug at hand. Cocaine is derived from the leaves of a coca plant that grows in South America. The leaves are then soaked in gasoline or acid to extract the desirable coca base. Once this process is complete, the acid or gasoline contains cocaine alkaloid and other substances like sodium bicarbonate are added to create a cocaine base. After excessive liquids are removed, the base is added to a solvent and then heated until it reaches its boiling point. Later, hydrochloric acid and other solvents are added, which results in a crystalized cocaine substance. As the solvents are removed through a press, the substance becomes dry and powder-like and is then formed into bricks for distribution.

Dangerous Additives

As cocaine hits the streets, it is often “cut” with other substances to increase profits for those who are selling the drug. One of the most common additives in cocaine is speed, though baking soda, laundry detergent, laxatives, and other household products are also typical. These additives are often toxic and increase the dangers of using cocaine. Despite this, users inhale, smoke, snort, or inject the cocaine and any additives, or other drugs included in the mix, into their bodies.

Why Can’t My Loved One Quit Using Cocaine?

Upon reaching the brain, the chemicals in cocaine almost immediately cue the neurotransmitters in the brain known as dopamine receptors. This drastically increases the levels of dopamine that the brain produces. While it is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, dopamine is associated with the body’s reward, motivation, and emotional functionality. By altering these levels, the user experiences a sense of euphoria as part of their “high.” Because the same chemicals are produced, this euphoria can be compared to an extremely exaggerated feeling that a non-user may experience when getting a promotion, paying off a mortgage, or another equally well-deserved accomplishment.

Along with this sense of accomplishment and reward, cocaine users experience increased self-confidence, an increased heart rate, and temporarily increased energy levels. Although each user may respond differently to the drug, generally they feel stimulated and more sociable. Aside from these side effects that most users view as positive effects, there is a long list of negative effects. Both mental and physical side effects are common among cocaine users and include problems such as anger, paranoia, extreme mood swings, nausea, overheating, seizures, heart problems, and death.

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The Addiction

Unfortunately, cocaine is one of the most highly addictive substances in the world. This is because the addict wants to constantly experience the sense of euphoria that comes along with the cocaine high. Likewise, using the drug alters the brain so that the addict truly believes that they need cocaine to survive. An addict will also experience significant withdrawal symptoms that make recovery difficult. Although cocaine withdrawal does not have more visible signs than with heroin or alcohol, they are still present in the brain as a result of the mind-altering effects of the chemical. Some of the most common symptoms include paranoia, fatigue or sleeplessness, anxiety, and an inability to experience pleasure. Each of these symptoms can cause extreme mental distress, which can increase the addict’s desire to use cocaine.

Getting Help

If your loved one is addicted to cocaine, they may or may not realize that they have a problem. In many cases, however, addicts are able to realize that they are in fact addicted. When confronted, they may feel a sense of shame or anger because they are unsure of how to end their cycle of addiction. They may minimize the extent of their usage, hide it from family, friends and significant others altogether, or be less secretive. They may claim that they will stop using on their own but continue to use.

This can result in intense frustration and anger for those who care about the addict. If you are struggling with the effects of watching your loved one battle a cocaine addiction, it is crucial to understand that they may want to stop but simply do not know how. This struggle can affect the family and friends of the addict more than the addict themselves in some instances. To move forward with your own life, drastic measures will need to be taken. Fortunately, there are counseling sessions and recovery programs for loved ones of addicts and a plethora of resources available to aid in getting the help that you and your loved one desperately need.

Cocaine addiction is a serious problem and nearly all addicts and their loved ones will need professional help to recover. Contact Transformations Treatment Center today for advice on how to overcome addiction as a team.

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