Cocaine is a powerful psychoactive stimulant, originated from the Coca leaf and originally farmed in South America. It was considered a glamorous party drug, with many high-profile celebrities known to be using it, increasing its popularity. As a strong stimulant, it releases a blissful cocktail of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, leaving the user feeling confident, alert and talkative, without the need for sleep or to eat, making the drug extremely attractive for those who may want to work harder, for longer, or to lose weight and appear comfortable in high-pressure social situations.
Crack cocaine is a free base form of cocaine; found as a white or yellow crystal rock and is smoked using a pipe. Because crack is a far more concentrated version of cocaine, effects are felt almost immediately and last only a few minutes, making it a highly addictive substance that requires increased doses, more frequently to experience the same intensity high as the body develops a tolerance.
A cocaine addiction occurs when a person feels a craving for the drug or needs to use it to engage in or complete basic daily tasks. Without the drug, they can feel depressed, anxious, hopeless, or aggressive and resort to stealing or manipulation to access and use cocaine. A person addicted to cocaine will typically prioritize using the drug over all over aspects of their life; work, education, friends, and family, even their own basic needs such as washing or eating. Due to cocaine’s popularity, many people may not recognize they are addicted to the substance and simply believe they are ‘having fun’ and reject concerns over their behavior. Similarly, because of the stimulant nature of the drug, many users will believe they need the drug to maintain their lifestyle, making it a difficult addiction to address and seek help for.
Cocaine produces a ‘rush’ as the neurotransmitters are released from the brain. The ‘rush’ is characterized by increased heart rate, quicker speech, dilated pupils, sweating and more focused attention. Over time, the increased heart rate and temperature in the body can result in long-term damage to the users’ heart and other vital organs.
The effect of crack on a user is similar to that of powder cocaine, however significantly more intense and short-lived. However, using crack cocaine can greatly increase the risk of psychosis whereby the user experiences frightening hallucinations and delusions which can result in the user taking part in violent crime or abuse.
Crossroads Substance Abuse Treatment Center offers intensive outpatient treatment for cocaine addiction, as well as many other other substance abuse problems.