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10 Things You Need to Know About Cocaine

Cocaine is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. The only illicit drug used more often is marijuana. Nearly one in four young adults have used the drug, and 14 percent of all adults have used it at some point in their lives.

Abuse is dangerous and can be deadly. No other illegal drug causes as many emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Knowing the health effects and addiction symptoms can help you protect your loved ones from this drug’s influence and let you know when it is time to seek help.

1.  Cocaine can cause sudden death after only one use!

What Does This Drug Look Like?

This drug is a fine white powder that may resemble flour. Crack is refined that is sold in crystal form. These crystals are called rocks.

How is it Used?

The powder form is usually snorted through the nose. This is a popular method, because the drug can pass through the thin lining of the nasal passages and go directly into the bloodstream. This is the fastest method of delivery, and people who use in this way are typically high within seconds. The powder form can also be injected, eaten, or placed on the gums or under the tongue. Some people choose to smoke it, either sprinkling it on cigarettes or mixing it with marijuana in pipes or joints.

Crack cocaine is typically smoked. The crystals are placed in glass pipes and heated. Heating it this way causes the crystals to make a crackling sound which gives crack its name. Smoking produces a nearly immediate high, with most people feeling the effects of the drug in about 10 seconds. Crack can also be crushed and mixed with water to inject the drug intravenously.

2.  Injecting this drug can put you at risk of HIV and hepatitis!

What Are the Immediate Effects?

Powder and crack cocaine produce similar effects since they are the same drug.

Euphoria – People who use cocaine feel an intense rush of euphoria. Users love the feeling of pleasure that comes from the drug, which often drives them to continue using it.

Self-Confidence – A feeling of self-confidence usually occurs when the drug reaches its maximum effect. People feel good about themselves and may even feel superior to other people. They may overestimate their abilities, attractiveness, or popularity. Many drug users have very low self-esteem when they are not high, and are not used to feeling good about themselves. The effect on their self-confidence often causes them to crave the drug and use it again just to feel secure and sure of themselves. However, this can accelerate the cycle of addiction. Coming down from a cocaine high often causes the person to feel even less sure of themselves than they normally would, leaving them feeling hopeless without it. They may begin to use it often to feel that self-confidence again.

Energetic and Excitable – People who use often become energetic and excitable, and they often feel compelled to talk to people, do some kind of creative work, or be otherwise productive. Many drug users are depressed and have anxiety about interacting with people. Using this dangerous drug helps them focus, gives them energy, and relieves their anxiety, and many people find that they are more productive and social when they use cocaine than when they do not. Just as some people crave cocaine to feel more self-confident, others continue using the drug to be productive in work and art and to improve their social lives.

Suspicion and paranoia – Suspicion and paranoia can set in after the person has been high for some time. After a while, people who are high begin to feel unsafe. It is hard to predict a person’s response when they are paranoid. Some choose to withdraw from perceived threats. However, the feelings of superiority that it causes may also make them more aggressive because the person may feel more secure in their physical abilities.

3.  Men tend to feel the effects faster than women!

Cocaine Binge Behavior

Addiction is often preceded by binging. Many people go on binges that can last for days. A binge is when the person uses cocaine again and again. They tend to use it again as the effects of the preceding dose wears off. They are never completely sober during a binge. However, as they continue to binge on the drug, they need more and more to get high. The brain adapts to the amounts of the drug present in the body and does not respond to low doses anymore. This adaptation can be permanent, causing drug users to constantly increase their dosage in order to feel the effects that they used to feel at lower doses.

People in the middle of a cocaine binge feel a variety of effects when they come down from the high including anxiety, paranoia, depression, lack of pleasure, and insomnia. At this point, they may start using other drugs or alcohol along with the cocaine so that they do not feel the negative effects of their drug use. Heroin is one of the most popular drugs to combine with cocaine. Mixing it with heroin is known as speed-balling and can have disastrous health effects.

4.  Mixing it with other drugs is the leading cause of death among addicts!

Cocaine Health Effects

Cocaine has drastic effects on users’ long-term health. The drug elevates the heart rate and blood pressure. Frequent use of the drug can cause damage to the heart and other organs, especially if the person has existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure. Many people die of heart attacks or strokes while using cocaine. Cocaine-related heart problems can affect people of all ages, even people with no history of heart disease.

Long-term use causes the blood pressure to spike frequently which damages the kidneys and can cause kidney failure. People who become addicted to cocaine may eventually need regular dialysis or may die suddenly of kidney failure.

The different methods of using the drug can cause different issues. People who snort the drug often have problems with nosebleeds, sore throat, diminished sense of smell, and lung damage. Injecting the drug causes track marks and abscesses at injection sites. Smoking crack can cause the gum line to recede and destroy its ability to keep the teeth healthy. People who use crack over a long period of time tend to have rotting teeth.

5.  Persistent abusers can no longer feel pleasure without the drug!

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

It is usually easy to recognize when a person has overdosed, especially if you know they are a current user.

  • Chest pain
  • Seizure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Troubled, irregular breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors

Hallucinations, intense anxiety, and panic are also common, but if the person is unconscious or cannot respond to you, these symptoms of overdose may not be present.

6.  Smoking this drug is more likely to cause overdose than other methods of ingestion!

Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

Nearly 1.5 million Americans have a cocaine addiction. It can be hard to determine if someone is addicted to cocaine. Many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety are similar to the personality changes that come with cocaine addiction.

The most common signs of cocaine addiction are:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Paranoia and suspicion
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Chronic runny nose
  • Hoarse voice
7.  As many as 400,000 infants are born each year addicted to cocaine!


When a person wants to quit using cocaine, the withdrawal symptoms are often enough to make them use the drug again. Withdrawal ruins many drug users’ attempts to live a clean and sober life.

Withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to feel any kind of pleasure
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation and irritability

Many people think that withdrawal necessarily means painful physical symptoms. Cocaine withdrawal does not cause physical symptoms in most people. However, the psychological symptoms, especially the lack of pleasure and happiness, frequently cause people to begin using again.

8.  One out of ten people who try this drug will use it again!

Cocaine and Teens

Teenage use was once a severe problem, with as many as 13 percent of twelfth graders reporting using the drug at one point in their lives. These statistics have been on a steep decline since the 1980s. By 2011, about three percent of twelfth graders reported using powder and 1.4 percent using crack cocaine. Less than two percent of eighth graders reported using powder cocaine and one percent reported using crack.

Teens who use cocaine are at a high risk for becoming addicted to the drug and for engaging in other risky behaviors. Teen cocaine use is often related to their alcohol use. Teens who drink are 50 times more likely to begin using cocaine while in their teen years than teens who do not drink.

Teenagers are also likely to use the drug in larger amounts because they often overestimate the amount of the drug their bodies can handle. Many teenagers who are using cocaine for the first time can die suddenly. Watch your teen for any signs of cocaine use, which include withdrawing from family and friends, falling grades, and anorexia.

9.  Over 40 million people over the age of 12 have used this drug at least once!

Cocaine Rehab

Entering rehab for this drug is the most important step to take to ensure long-term sobriety. It is a difficult addiction to treat, and relapse rates range between 50 and 90 percent.

Entering an addiction facility can help people cope with withdrawal symptoms. Although there are no dramatic physical symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, the psychological symptoms are enough to make many people start using again. People who are experiencing withdrawal from cocaine feel paranoid, depressed, and cannot feel pleasure. They often feel as if they will never feel good again. This makes them think that they need cocaine just to feel normal.

Addiction specialists at rehab facilities can help cocaine addicts cope with their withdrawal symptoms. Many of the underlying psychological problems that cause cocaine use and addiction, such as depression and low self-esteem, are addressed in treatment.

Without treatment, many people struggle with a cycle of relapse. If a person starts using cocaine again during withdrawal, they only strengthen their brain’s dependence on the drug. Each time a person tries to quit using cocaine and fails, they make it more difficult for them to finally quit using.

10.  Over 20% of drug-related ER visits involve cocaine use!

At treatment facilities, people can undergo medical detox. Medical detox is much safer and more effective. People who have cocaine addictions can be given medications to help relieve the stress, paranoia and depression and to help them sleep. Successfully undergoing detox is one of the best indicators of success for a person addicted to cocaine.

Although addiction has a high relapse rate, it is not impossible to quit using it and to live a clean and sober life. Rehab is frequently necessary for people to stop using cocaine for good. People in rehab can learn coping mechanisms to manage their cravings and to deal with the psychological issues that cause addiction.

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