Cocaine comes in several different forms, powder cocaine which is snorted and freebase or crack cocaine which comes in rock form that can be smoked, smoking or injecting the drug is more potent and addictive, travelling to the brain much quicker than powder cocaine creating an almost immediate effect on the user.
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant with a short-lived high that often makes users feel wide awake and overconfident. Users report feeling unstoppable or on top of the world, but some people can become aggressive and take careless risks.
Physiological effects include a racing heart, higher body temperature and appetite suppression. Many users mix cocaine with alcohol and other drugs increasing the risks of unpleasant and dangerous side effects including overdose, mixing cocaine with alcohol can be particularly dangerous due to the production of cocaethylene a toxic chemical resulting from the mixture of cocaine and alcohol in the body. Other serious and life threatening risks associated with cocaine use are convulsions, heart attack and heart failure.
Any form of cocaine that is injected will also have the additional risks of respitory failure (overdose) as well as the risks associated with needle use, for example transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C infection as well as serious damage to the veins and formation of abscesses or blood clots which can be life threatening.
Cocaine use changes the way the brain works, therefore powerful cravings and psychological dependence can happen over a short time. Physical withdrawal symptoms felt following the high is also known as a crash or a ‘comedown’, which can make users feel depressed and run down. This crash can sometimes last for days making it more difficult to resist cravings. The psychological side effects felt afterwards make users more susceptible to mental health issues such as anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks.
Serious damage to cartilage in the nose that separates the nostrils is also a common problem for heavy users.
A cocaine addiction may not necessarily be taking the drug every day. A sign of addiction may be that users’ happiness depends on it or that they are unable to cut down. Frequent users will build up tolerance, craving more and more, this can quickly develop into a very expensive habit. This is when it is time to seek professional advice and get help for cocaine addiction.
For more information on the treatments services offered by Charterhouse Clinic for drug addiction, please visit our drug addiction treatment page.