The use of cocaine rises and falls in the United States according to the latest trends, but one fact that doesn’t change is the number of devastating effects that use of the drug can have on its users, their families and their communities at large.
Though many believe cocaine to be a designer drug that lost its popularity in the 1980s, the truth is that it is still a major drug of abuse in this country. WebMD reports the following:
- About 14 percent of adults in the United States have tried cocaine recreationally.
- One in 40 US adults have used it at least once in the past year.
- The biggest population to abuse the drug is men between the ages of 18 and 25.
- Eight percent of men in this age group in the US used cocaine in the past year.
No use of cocaine is safe or positive. Whether the drug is used in its powder form or rock form (e.g., crack cocaine), its use can bring with it a slew of negative health problems, social issues and mental health problems in both the short- and long-term.
Cocaine Use Alters Brain Function
The brain scans of someone who has been using cocaine for years are exceedingly different when compared to the brain scans of a non-cocaine user, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The dopamine receptors known as D2 in the brains of patients who abuse cocaine are far decreased, an issue that is linked to the decreased ability to experience natural rewards after addictive use of drugs. Repeated exposure to cocaine causes this issue, and in turn, makes it necessary for users of the drug to take larger and larger amounts of cocaine in order to get high. This increased tolerance is one of the signs of cocaine dependence.
Medical Health Concerns
The method of ingestion of cocaine will change the different risks of physical ailments that can result.
For example, the NIDA reports that those who snort the drug will increase their chances of:
- Losing their sense of smell
- Chronic nosebleeds
- Irritation or breakdown of the nasal septum
- Hoarseness and difficulty swallowing
Those who inject the drug, dissolving it in liquid and using a needle to ingest it, open themselves up to a wide range of health problems, including:
- Extreme allergic reactions to the drug or an additive used to cut it
- Infections at the injection site
- Overdose due to the changing purity of the drug
- Exposure to diseases that are passed through shared needles like hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS
Because cocaine use reduces the flow of blood throughout the body, all users have the chance of developing severe bowel gangrene. Additionally, decreased appetite is often such a problem among chronic cocaine users that malnutrition and all the health problems associated with it can result.
Overdose is not uncommon either. Because the drug increases the heart rate, cardiac arrest and other heart problems are often the cause of acute medical emergency and death.
Mental Health Issues Caused by Cocaine Abuse
In the short-term, users under the influence of cocaine may experience a wide range of negative mental health symptoms, including:
- Full-blown panic attacks
When the drug is used in large amounts or for the long-term, these symptoms may not wear off with the drug. Many longtime users of cocaine report that they struggle with these symptoms all the time and find them debilitating. Unable to function in a normal relationship or maintain a job, many will require months or even years of treatment, recuperation and abstinence from drug use of any kind to begin to find a sense of balance again.
Is Cocaine Abuse a Problem for Your Loved One?
Don’t ignore the issue if your loved one is abusing cocaine alone or in combination with other substances. Contact us at 706-914-2327 and find out how we can help them overcome their drug dependence today.