Addictive Illegal Substances: Cocaine

Cocaine is an addictive illegal substance that hides behind many nicknames such as “coke,” “blow” and “crack.” These can sometimes be variations on the drug, but essentially, they are all the same. Spiking in popularity at the end of the twentieth century, cocaine is still used today by almost two million Americans, according to a study performed by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2008. For those who have loved ones with a cocaine addiction, here is what you need to know about the history and health effects of this type of drug abuse.

The History of Cocaine

Derived from the coca plant, a version of cocaine has been around since the Incas walked the Earth. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), early civilizations would simply chew on the leaves of the coca plant for a “jolt” of energy.

In 1860, a purified ingredient of the plant was extracted by a chemistry student, Albert Niemann. He called the ingredient “cocaine,” and it was used in a number of studies, including anesthesiology. By the late nineteenth century, cocaine was manufactured and used in several products, such as Coca-Cola. There was a spike in recreational use of the drug, which caused many to become addicted.

By 1914, the use of cocaine was restricted to medicinal and scientific purposes only. Despite the efforts of the law, in the ‘80s, more than 10 million Americans were abusing cocaine.That number drastically declined by the new millennium. Crack was also developed in the 1980s as a form of cocaine that could be smoked, causing users to become addicted much faster.

The Health Consequences of Cocaine Use

Cocaine comes in a powdered form and is usually snorted. By doing so, the drug is absorbed more slowly, but the short-term effects can last slightly longer than if the drug were smoked. These effects can include a rush of energy, heightened senses and a feeling of euphoria.

Short-term health consequences of this form of drug abuse can include: dilated pupils, increased heart rate and body temperature, irritability, violent behavior and paranoia. When consumed in large quantities, cocaine can cause horrific neurological effects and disturb the rhythm of the heart. As a result, seizures, heart attacks, strokes and even death can occur, in the most intense cases.

When cocaine addiction continues for a long period of time, snorting cocaine can destroy the sense of smell, cause nosebleeds and difficulty swallowing. Unintentional weight loss, restlessness and panic attacks can also be results of long-term cocaine abuse.

How Drug Abuse Treatment Can Help

Due to the drug’s ability to alter brain functions, it is important that those suffering from cocaine addiction seek treatment. With the help of professional counselors, those struggling with drug abuse can discover ways to overcome their addiction and begin leading a sober life.

Additionally, because cocaine can be considered a common street drug, it can cause the addict to get into trouble with either the law or dangerous drug dealers. Sobriety is the only way to avoid a tragic incident associated with such.

To find help for your loved one who may have a cocaine addiction, please contact us for more information on how drug abuse treatment can help.

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