Just a few decades ago, cocaine was one of America’s most popular party drugs. Although the substance may have taken a backseat to some of today’s more popular illicit drugs, cocaine is still abused by millions of Americans.
The dangers of cocaine abuse are perhaps underplayed due to the fact that cocaine withdrawals are not as dramatic as those of heroin. Further, a cocaine addict could hide his or her habits under the visage of an executive or professional appearance with no open wounds or injection sites necessary. Make no mistake, however, that the health risks of cocaine are severe.
The drug can be injected, snorted or smoked and is commonly “cut with” (mixed with) other chemicals, drugs or unknown diluting agents. As such, the potentiality of a fatal outcome with cocaine remains even with just one use.
Health Risks of Cocaine
Cocaine users can suffer strokes, seizures, heart attacks or cardiac arrest – all of which can result in cessation of breathing and sudden death. Cocaine is also known to minimally elevate one’s heart rate, produce high blood pressure, constrict blood vessels and dilate the pupils.
Some cocaine users experience nausea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal issues and appear to be worn out or malnourished. Due to the fact that cocaine can diminish one’s appetite, many users lose weight rapidly and their body begins to suffer the consequences of resulting nutritional deficiencies.
Those users who ingest the drug intravenously also put themselves at risk for the contraction of HIV by way of shared needles or sexual transmission of the disease.
Basic Cocaine Facts
Cocaine comes in a white powder form and can be consumed nasally, intravenously or by smoking it. Cocaine also comes in “rock” form, called crack cocaine, which can be smoked as well. Some consider crack cocaine to be more addictive than powdered (or freebase) cocaine, although they are both known to be extremely addictive and detrimental to one’s health.
Derived from the South American coca plant, cocaine produces a short but intense high consisting of feelings of euphoria, “blissfulness,” high energy and talkativeness for about 15-30 minutes. (The duration of one’s high is determined by the method in which the drug is ingested. Smoking crack cocaine tends to produce a much shorter and more intense high than nasal ingestion of freebase powdered cocaine.)
Freebase cocaine is most commonly ingested by snorting it, which can cause damage to the user’s septum. (The septum is a thin membrane that separates the nostrils at the top of the nose.) This explains why some users experience regular nosebleeds, bloody mucous and congestion following the use of cocaine.
More serious cocaine use can produce a complete dissolving of the septum as well as a deterioration of one’s sense of smell.
In comparison to a handful of other illicit drugs, cocaine does not appear to produce severe symptoms of physical drug withdrawal. When a cocaine high has worn off, users generally report severe mental instability and emotional mood swings.
Some of the known mental withdrawal symptoms resulting from cocaine abstinence include:
- Severe depression
- Violent outbursts
- Drug “cravings” for more cocaine
These conditions can manifest for up to several weeks following one’s cocaine use, depending on the duration and quantity of consumption.
Don’t underestimate the dangers of cocaine abuse. Get help help today.