Cocaine – How Harmful Is It?

The origins of Cocaine

On a recent trip to South America we were told how the coca plant is one of the most healthy and beneficial plants in the world. This may well be true – but sadly when used for cocaine it can be the source of destruction, pain and death.

Cocaine itself is a highly addictive substance. It is sometimes referred to as coke, rock, snow, blow and also can be used as ‘crack cocaine’.

How is it used?

People use it to make themselves more alert, to get ‘high’ and for energy. It is a stimulant – but an illegal one. Most people know cocaine as a fine white powder, like talcum powder which people snort up their nose. Some rub it on their gums. It can be dissolved in water and injected. However it can also be made into solid rock in a crystal format which can be heated up and inhaled into the lungs.

What affect does Cocaine have on the user?

Cocaine works by affecting our dopamine levels, which is the chemical in our brain that controls our sensation of pleasure. Apart from giving energy and producing a ‘high’, it can make people feel very happy, and sensitive to sight, sound and touch. However it also increases anger and general irritability and paranoia. It depresses the appetite.

Apart from anger, irritability, moodiness and paranoia, cocaine can also have other negative effects. It can cause headaches, loss of smell, a runny nose, nosebleeds – and can affect the ability to swallow if it is snorted. Extreme use can cause the septum to weaken and break / be destroyed. The bowel can also be destroyed if cocaine is swallowed. It can also cause lung damage, heart problems including heart disease and can even kill in the form of causing heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, cocaine can kill by causing the user to have convulsions and seizures. It can cause HIV or hepatitis if injected. Less serious but also unpleasant are headaches and sexual problems which can be caused by using cocaine. Is it really worth it for the sake of increased energy and ‘highs’?

How much will it cost you?

Of course, users at first think that it is harmless and definitely worth the ‘positive’ effects it initially provides. They are either unaware of the more serious effects or think these will not happen to them.

However, over time, increased use will bring cravings – and the more cocaine that has been used, the more the brain gets used to it and the more of the drug that is needed to produce the same effect. This in turn can lead to addiction and / or overdose. Users risk becoming dependent. It can affect their memory and sleep patterns. Gradually the drug that seemed to provide a fun and positive experience gets users in its grip and begins to dominate and control their life. Getting hold of it and using it becomes an obsession. The cost is not just financial – though it is that too – it is a cost to the mind, body and spirit.

Escaping the grasps of Cocaine

At this point, the only way forward for addicted users is to get some psychological and emotional support. This can be found through self help groups such as Cocaine Anonymous. There is no prescribed medication to treat cocaine addiction. It is a psychological addiction that needs treatment for the mind. The quickest and most successful way to deal with cocaine addiction is through rehab treatment (where addicts might be provided with medication for anxiety or to establish a good pattern of sleep at least in the early days). This usually has to be private and paid for but can be a life changing and a life saving experience.

Please also read our overview of cocaine addiction.

If you are looking into getting some help please do not hesitate to call us or complete our free addiction assessment.

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Cocaine – How Harmful Is It?