Being addicted to cocaine can be very abusive on the body. Once having tried cocaine, the person cannot predict or control the extent to which they will continue to use the drug. The major routes of administration of cocaine are sniffing or snorting, injecting, and smoking (including free-base and crack cocaine). Snorting is when you inhale the cocaine powder through the nose, which then enters the bloodstream. Injecting is the act of using a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream. Smoking involves inhaling cocaine vapour or smoke into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream is as rapid as by injection.

What is Crack Cocaine?

“Crack” which is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking. Crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water. Once heated to remove the hydrochloride, producing a form of cocaine that can be smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked, presumably from the sodium bicarbonate.

There’s a great risk of cocaine abuse whether ingested by inhalation (snorting), injection, or smoking. The abuse may develop even more rapidly if smoked. Smoking allows extremely high doses of cocaine to reach the brain very quickly and brings an intense and immediate high. If the drug user is sharing needles then they are at risk of transmitting or acquiring HIV infection/ AIDS.

Health Hazards

Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that interferes with the re absorption process of dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with pleasure and movement. Dopamine’s released as part of the brain’s reward system and involved in the high that characterises cocaine consumption.

Physical Effects

Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. The duration of cocaine’s immediate euphoric effects, which include hyper-stimulation, reduced fatigue, and mental clarity, depends on the route of administration. The faster the absorption, the more intense the high. On the other hand, the faster the absorption, the shorter the duration of action. The high from snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, while that from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes. Increased use can reduce the period of stimulation.

Some users of cocaine report feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. They develop a tolerance to the high, and many addicts report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure.  In rare instances, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly thereafter. However, there is no way to determine who is prone to sudden death.

Prolonged use of Cocaine/Crack Cocaine

High doses of cocaine and/or prolonged use can trigger paranoia. Smoking crack cocaine can produce a particularly aggressive paranoid behaviour in users. When addicted individuals stop using cocaine, they often become depressed. This also may lead to further cocaine use to alleviate depression. Prolonged cocaine snorting can result in ulceration of the mucous membrane of the nose and can damage the nasal septum enough to cause it to collapse. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest.

If you or someone you care about has a problem with cocaine, The Haynes Clinic can help. Call 01462 851414. The Haynes Clinic is an alcohol rehab and alcohol addiction treatment centre which not only successfully teaches people how to stop drinking but also offers drug rehabilitation treatment.