According to the National Institute on Drug abuse, in 2008, almost 15% of Americans had tried cocaine, with 6% having tried it by their senior year of high school. Cocaine smuggled into the United States is generally isolated and converted to cocaine hydrochloride in South American labs. As it passes through many hands from the importer to the user, it is usually tainted (“cut” or “stepped on”) at each stage of distribution. The final product can be from 1% to 95% pure.
Understanding Cocaine Use
There are two forms of this psychoactive substance, hydrochloride salt and freebase. The form of ready-to-use freebase is also known as crack cocaine (due to the ‘cracking’ noise it makes when heated and smoked). Crack can only be smoked due to the method of chemicals used to produce it. Hydrochloride salt mixture of coke is either snorted or when mixed with water can be injected.
Cocaine induces a sense of exhilaration, mental alertness and pleasure in the user primarily by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitter dopamine and provides the individual with a short-term but powerful euphoric state of mind that can only be recaptured by the augmentation of the substance. The injecting and smoking of cocaine produce a much faster and intense high. When snorting cocaine, the user will usually experience a euphoric high from 15 to 30 minutes,which will not intensify after each use unless the amount is increase. Injecting or smoking the substance leads to a high that lasts as little as 5 to 10 minutes and causes an increased euphoric sensation.
Different methods of administration can produce specific adverse effects and can have different signs of abuse. Intranasal use (snorting) of cocaine can lead to loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds and chronic runny nose. Ingesting cocaine can cause severe bowel gangrene as a result of reduced blood flow. Injecting cocaine can bring about severe allergic reactions and increased risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
- Auditory hallucinations
- Suicidal thoughts
- Wide or dilated pupils.
- Unable to fulfill obligations at home, at work or school
- Financial problems
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Treatment for cocaine addiction is most effective through intense residential or outpatient rehabilitation programs that focus on cognitive behavioral therapies. Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and Narcotics Anonymous are 12-step meetings that further support the management of a drug free life. When used in conjunction of one another, residential programs and 12 Step can be the most viable option for severe addicts. There is no sustainable medical cure known at this time.