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Cocaine is derived from the cocoa plant native to South America. Natives use to the leaves of the coca leaves as a stimulant, which increases the breathing pattern of an individual. The effect leads to the increase oxygen intake for laborers to perform their duties in high altitudes and in thin air conditions. Over time, science discovered how to amplify the potency and the effect of cocaine.

Chemically synthesizing the coca leaves generated a white powdery substance of the present-day form of cocaine. Cocaine was first synthesized in 1885 but not until 1880 that the medical community began to notice the devastating effect.

However, some health care professional can use the drug for valid medical reasons for some surgeries. Even though the drug is still illegal to use, some health care providers sometimes use cocaine as a local anesthesia. Meanwhile, street dealers often mix cocaine with other powdery white substance such as talcum powder and flour to increase their profits.

  •    Crack
  •    Snow
  •    Rock
  •    Coke
  •    Blow

Facts about Drug Abuse

  • In 2011, cocaine became the most illegal substance for more than 40% of emergency department cases.
  • In 2015, nearly 5 million people are recorded using cocaine and almost 1 million people used the drug during their lifetime.
  • Men are 1.75 times more susceptible to use cocaine than women, according to 2015 data.
  • Long term abuse can damage the nose. Users often need plastic surgery to repair the organ.
  • Users are at risk of heart attack 24 times greater within the first hour from the last drug intake.

How is the drug abused?

There are a number of ways which an individual can consume the drug.  Usually, users snort cocaine through the nose or rub it directly on their gums. Some extreme form of abuse is dissolving the powder in water and injecting it into the bloodstream. Users also mixed it with other illicit drugs such as heroin; the combination of the drug is called as a Speedball.

Users often times inhale the smoke of cocaine that has been processed as a rock crystal, often referred as “freebase cocaine.” The rock crystal is heated to produce smoke and users inhale it, which directly affect the lungs. The drug got it street name because of the crackling sound when it is heated. People who use the drug usually take it in binges to maintain the high feeling.

What causes addiction?

Prolonged exposure to cocaine can cause chemical changes in the brain. These changes include the need to consume cocaine and extreme behavioral changes, which includes:

  •    developing an onset Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD
  •    Erratic behavior and mood changes

What are the signs and symptoms of addiction?

Cocaine users usually hide their addictive behaviors. However, they may disappear after some time to get their daily dose and come back with a very apparent change in their behavior. Users may display these characteristics:

  •    may seem too excited about certain things or situation
  •    shows more confidence
  •    display a greater sense of self
  •    increase sexual drive
  •    More talkative
  •    Loss of appetite
  •    Difficulty in sleeping

When users smoke cocaine, they may hide paraphernalia related to their behavior. You may find small glass pipes and tiny bags tucked away somewhere. Because of burns received from the crack pipes, users may show burns on fingers and lips. The ‘high’ which the users received from this kind of consumption does not last, and users may use the drug often. This behavior proved fatal because of a drug overdose.

Signs and symptoms of cocaine use usually include:

  •    Aggressiveness
  •    Isolation or antisocial behavior
  •    Delusions
  •    Disorientation
  •    Paranoia

White powder residues in a person’s nose can indicate a clear sign of cocaine use. However, some people will dissolve the drug and inject it directly into the system. You may find needle marks on arms, hands, legs, feet or neck along with discarded syringes.

Side effects of Drug Use

Cocaine users will even inject the drug and ingest the drug; both situations can lead to severe intestinal damage. Some of the most common side effects of cocaine use include:

Physical Changes

  •    Dilated pupils
  •    Burned lips or fingers
  •    Cardiac arrest
  •    Constricted blood vessels
  •    Enlarged Heart
  •    Extreme energy or happiness
  •    Fast heart rate
  •    Heart attacks
  •    Nausea
  •    Nosebleeds W
  •    Runny nose
  •    Track marks for those users who injects the drug

Mental Changes

  •    Aggressiveness
  •    Delusions
  •    Euphoria
  •    Hallucinations
  •    Irritability
  •    Paranoia
  •    Poor judgment
  •    Overconfidence
  •    Unusual excitement

Long-Term Signs

Prolonged cocaine use can lead to mental and physical deterioration. They may also experience strong cravings to consume cocaine regardless of the conditions.

Users can display these symptoms after a prolonged exposure to cocaine:

  •    Agitation
  •    Apathy
  •    Depression
  •    Exhaustion
  •    Intense cravings
  •    Long periods of sleep
  •    Need for taking higher doses

Users develop drug tolerance over cocaine after consuming it for a long period of time.  Aside from drug binges, they also need to take cocaine in higher doses. If they stop consuming the drug, they may suffer extreme withdrawal symptoms. They may also display erratic mood changes such as anxiety, irritability, apathy and depressions.

Long-term effects of cocaine include:

  •    Nosebleeds
  •    Higher risk of contracting HIV and other blood-borne illnesses because of sharing needles
  •    Malnourishment
  •    Restlessness
  •    Extreme bowel deterioration
  •    Severe paranoia with hearing hallucinations

Users who take the drug for some time have a greater risk of a drug overdose which leads to death. Drug addiction poses a great threat to the total well-being of an individual.  Most often, medical assisted rehabilitation are necessary to fully recover from the addiction.

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