Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, most often grown in South America. It is one of the most powerful drugs available and to this day remains a significant problem in the world of illicit substances. Indigenous tribes in South America chewed on the coca plant for years until European settlers discovered the plant’s properties and began to use it for medicinal purposes in the late 19th century. By the beginning of the next century, the detrimental effects of cocaine were apparent which led to its prohibition. The drug is still illegal to this day.
Today, cocaine is not often used medicinally, but is prized by drug traffickers because of its high retail value on the black market. This combined with how quickly a person can become addicted makes it a very lucrative and risky business.
How It Works
Cocaine is usually sold in powdered form and offers users virtually immediate highs including feelings of euphoria and sensory numbness. Cocaine is most often snorted through the nose, but can be ingested orally and even injected. Cocaine is a stimulant which rapidly causes addiction in users. The drug drives straight to the central nervous system and significantly alters the brain’s chemistry making it extremely dangerous no matter what the quantity used or frequency of use. Most cocaine is not pure and the fillers used to increase weight can cause toxicity themselves. As the user continues to ingest the substance they will develop a tolerance and addiction to it, which will in turn compel them to consume even more.
The Effects of Cocaine
Short-term, cocaine use offers an extreme high, which diminishes over time as the body and brain becomes tolerant of the drug. Depending on the person’s body, users can die, even on their first use. Long-term use of cocaine causes serious and permanent problems both psychological and physical.
Cocaine users and addicts suffer from extreme side effects including:
- Paranoid thoughts and activities
- Elevation of blood pressure
- Suicidal tendencies
- Aggression and Violence
Most of these side-effects are caused by the body and mind craving the drug. Some violence can also be attributed to an addict’s need to get more of the drug. Many addicts resort to stealing, begging and assault to get more of the drug. The addict constantly chases the high they first had, but subsequent highs are never as good. Eventually, this leads to the consumption of extreme quantities of cocaine and if left untreated, will result in permanent injury and death. Cocaine addiction, like other addictions, causes the loss of family, friends, money and job because of the intense desire for the substance.
Treating Cocaine Addiction
Addiction to cocaine is treated much in the same way as other substances and starts with drug detox and continues with 30, 60 or 90 day treatment in a licensed facility. Cocaine addicts need to stay in support for the rest of their lives and can rely on NA, Narcotics Anonymous as one of the many support programs available to them after they’ve completed a course in a drug rehab center.