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Cocaine, commonly referred to as coke, is an illegal stimulant drug that has extremely addictive properties. More specifically, it is classified as a CNS (central nervous system) stimulant and a local anesthetic. Using coke results in alertness, heightened energy, intense feelings of happiness, and in some cases, anxiety.
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The drug is derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant, which is a native South American plant. Coke comes in the form of a white, crystal powder that is typically snorted, inhaled, or dissolved and injected. Crack, the freebase form of cocaine, is generally smoked. Other street names include:
A study from 2014 found about 1.5 million people (12 and older) were past-month cocaine users. This is about 0.6 percent of the U.S. populationNational Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)
Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances in the world. In fact, it is considered a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse. Depending on the person and reason for use, cocaine disorders can range from mild, moderate, to severe.
The more an individual uses, the more at risk they are of developing an addiction. This is because, over time, a person has to keep increasing their cocaine dose to achieve the same high. The substance also changes your brain chemistry and shrinks brain cells, which can result in cocaine addiction over time.
Small doses of the drug can be used as a local anesthetic for severe medical conditions, but only if it is administered by a doctor. Although, with the development of synthetic local anesthetics, using cocaine for medical purposes is rare in the U.S. It is also illegal to sell as a street drug because of its highly addictive nature and harmful effects.
The symptoms of a stimulant use disorder, or cocaine use disorder, are often difficult to recognize. Since many people abuse the drug at parties or social events, they may not know they are addicted. Although, if an individual has built up a tolerance to the drug and experiences withdrawal symptoms after stopping use, a dependency has developed.
Other possible symptoms of cocaine abuse include:
If you or a loved one experiences any of the following symptoms, you may be at risk of addiction:
Between 2018 and 2019, about 69,000 people died of a drug overdose. Cocaine overdoses made up 23 percent (more than 1 in 5) of these deaths.NCHS
After snorting, inhaling, or injecting coke, people often feel the effects immediately. Depending on the dose, these effects fade after a few minutes to an hour. As a result, many people take high doses or multiple doses closely together to maintain the “high.”
Possible severe and long-term side effects of abuse include:
Alcohol and cocaine are commonly used together, which is a dangerous combination. Additionally, if you are recovering from a stimulant use disorder, drinking alcohol may trigger cocaine use.
Lastly, some addicts also mix heroin and coke (known as a “speedball”), which is an extremely deadly combination when injected. So, it is important to abstain from all drugs and alcohol during the treatment and recovery phases.
Drug dealers commonly dilute (cut) street cocaine with other substances. They do so to increase profits, but the consequences of “cutting” coke can be deadly. Common substances used to dilute the drug may include:
Pharmacological and behavioral treatments are the most effective options for cocaine addiction. More specifically, you may benefit from outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment, medications, behavioral therapy, or a combination.
For example, common medications used to treat cocaine addiction may include:
Since cocaine rewires your brain with continued use, it is challenging to quit using the drug without professional treatment. Find treatment today.
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Kampman, Kyle M. “New Medications for the Treatment of Cocaine Dependence.” Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), Matrix Medical Communications, Dec. 2005, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2994240/.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cocaine.” NIDA, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated?” NIDA, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-treatments-are-effective-cocaine-abusers
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Is Cocaine?” NIDA, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine.
“STATCAST - Week of September 9, 2019.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 Sept. 2019, www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/podcasts/20190911/20190911.htm.