Understanding Cocaine Addiction and Treatment
Cocaine is a stimulant drug with highly addictive properties. It comes from the coca plant, native to South America, and it is used around the United States for a variety of medical purposes, such as local anesthesia.
When used for nonmedical purposes, cocaine is an illegal street drug. Users can snort cocaine in its powder form or rub it on the gums of the mouth. Users may also dissolve cocaine powder in water and inject the drug, or smoke its crystalline form, crack cocaine.
Cocaine addiction ruins lives and can ultimately lead to death. Learn about cocaine addiction and the available treatment thereof.
Brief History of Cocaine and How Its Made
Cocaine is not a new drug. America has been the largest consumer of cocaine around the globe since the 1980s, with no signs of changing anytime soon. The three largest cocaine-producing countries are Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Up to 90 percent of the cocaine in America comes from these Andean nations.
Brazil, which shares a border with these three countries, makes up the second-largest region responsible for cocaine in America. While Colombia used to be the biggest cocaine producer in the world, Peru now holds this title. Cocaine production has dropped in Colombia, thanks to efforts by the Colombian government.
Cocaine producers in these countries make the drug using the coca leaf. Producers cultivate the coca leaf, pluck the leaves from the plant, and then dry them. Producers then process the dry, brittle leaves, turning them into a paste. They purify the paste into a coca base, which they then convert to cocaine hydrochloride. This is pure cocaine.
Street dealers often dilute cocaine hydrochloride with cornstarch, talcum powder, bicarbonate soda or similar substances to increase the cocaine’s bulk and make more money off the product. Producers make crack cocaine – the most potent form of the drug – by processing cocaine hydrochloride with ammonia and water and heating the resultant mixture.
Cocaine enters the United States mainly through the country’s southwestern border. Drug cartels carry cocaine through the Central American-Mexican corridor. Cartels also ship cocaine through the Caribbean, and then break it into smaller amounts and move it via boat to southern Florida and into the rest of the country.
Understanding Cocaine Use and Abuse
People use cocaine to achieve feelings of extreme happiness, energy and mental alertness. Cocaine works by flooding the brain’s pleasure and reward circuits with dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria. Cocaine prevents the brain’s natural process of recycling dopamine, causing excessive amounts to build up in the brain. This disrupts the brain’s normal functioning and communication, generating a high.
Users get addicted to this feeling and continue to use cocaine, often in larger and larger quantities to achieve the same result. Soon, the brain becomes dependent on the drug for normal functioning. This constitutes cocaine addiction.
Health Effects of Consuming Cocaine
Snorting, eating or injecting cocaine can cause short-term effects such as euphoria and a burst of energy, but the drawbacks include:
- Hypersensitivity to sound, light and touch
- Bizarre and unpredictable behavior
- Dilated Pupils
- Constricted blood vessels
The effects of using cocaine can last minutes or hours, depending on the method of consumption. A user who snorts cocaine can suffer loss of smell, a nosebleed and difficulty swallowing. Those who consume cocaine by mouth may suffer severe bowel decay due to reduced blood flow.
Needle injections of cocaine can lead to HIV, hepatitis C and other needle-related diseases. Too much cocaine in any user’s system can lead to issues with the heart and blood vessels, resulting in heart attack, seizure, stroke and even death.
Cocaine Addiction Statistics in the U.S.
According to many sources, cocaine is up there with heroin when it comes to the most addictive substance on the black market. The United States remains the No. 1 consumer of cocaine in the world, but the rates of cocaine use and related emergency department visits have decreased in the last decade.
Here are some cocaine-related statistics worth noting:
- From 2004 to 2014, the rate of cocaine as the primary substance of abuse in treatment center admissions has dropped from 14 percent to 5 percent in the U.S.
- In 2014, about 1.5 million people were current cocaine users, including about 354,000 users of crack cocaine. These numbers are similar to those between 2009 and 2013, but lower than those from the years prior.
- Most users admitted for treatment for cocaine addiction in the U.S. were 35 or older, as there were about 1 million overall users in this age group in 2014.
- Also in 2014, an estimated 913,000 Americans aged 12 and older had cocaine use disorder.
The Importance of Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction treatment is crucial for those who continually abuse this harmful substance. Thousands of people die from cocaine-related issues every year. The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches has many unique options for letting cocaine addiction sufferers customize their path to recovery. No matter where you live in the U.S., our cocaine addiction treatment center in Florida can help you or a loved one detox from cocaine and regain hope for a better, substance-free future.
Cocaine Addiction Doesn’t Have to Define Your Future. Now Is the Time to Get Back on Track! Learn More About The Treatment Center in Florida: