Is Cocaine Addictive?

If you aren’t familiar with cocaine, go watch the movie Scarface to give yourself a glance (albeit dramatized version) at cocaine and its effects on the user and those around him or her. It sounds silly to compare cocaine use to a Hollywood movie that, in some cases, glamorizes its effects but take a look in particular at the end. Jail. Death. Hysterical family members. Lives in shambles. Cocaine takes control of the lives of those who use it, leaving a disaster in its wake. Is cocaine addictive? While it may not be physically addictive, it is certainly psychologically addictive.

How Does Someone Become Addicted to Cocaine?

A person becomes addicted to cocaine after using it for a certain period of time. In fact, some may even say that cocaine is addictive after you try it for the first time. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant derived from the plant Erythroxylon cocaOriginally, cocaine was used as a pain medication until doctors realized its harmful effects. It is now considered an illicit drug with high addiction potential.

When cocaine enters the body, the drug inhibits the reuptake, or recycling, of dopamine back into the brain. It mimics the effects of dopamine, flooding the brain with its pleasurable effects, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The brain’s pleasure system is alerted and rearranged, so to speak. And, when certain drugs interfere with normal dopamine levels, the brain eventually stops producing the much needed chemical. Other side effects of cocaine use include:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased alertness
  • Feeling of competency
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Increased energy
  • Paranoia or suspicion
  • Hostility or aggression

Gradually, a person can become tolerant of cocaine’s effects, thus needing more of the drug to achieve the same high. Long-term or chronic use can result in addiction in which the user grows to crave the drug when not using it and can alter his or her whole life to obtain and use the drug. In animal lab studies, cocaine has shown to be the most powerful motivating “reward,” even surpassing opiates.

What Happens When a Person Stops Using Cocaine?

Without the supervision of a recovery or rehabilitation center like Alta Mira, the chances of someone getting clean from cocaine are slim. The joy and euphoria from cocaine last only so long and are followed by a very unpleasant “crash.” This crash is accompanied by headaches, dehydration, and irritability. After a while, if a person has been using for a long time, withdrawal symptoms can set in and these are a little bit worse:

  • Strong craving for the drug
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression or depressed mood
  • Increased appetite

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How Can I Tell if a Friend Is Using Cocaine?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if a friend or family member is using cocaine unless, of course, that person is doing the drug in front of you. You want may want to look for warning signs like unexplained loss of money or always needing to borrow money; erratic behavior; always staying up late (the person never seems to sleep); neglecting responsibilities and enjoyable activities; and seeing evidence of cocaine use (mirrors, rolled up dollar bills, razor blades, white powder, etc.).

Not all of these signs will be obvious but if you sense there is a problem, there very well may be. If your friend or loved one needs help for cocaine addiction, call Alta Mira today. Addiction is not easy to overcome and it’s hard to do it alone. Let our experts help by developing an individualized plan that best suits your needs or the needs of someone you care about. We are committed to your success and to providing the absolute highest quality service available to you. Call us today.