Cocaine Addiction

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”COCAINE ADDICTION” font_container=”tag:h1|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Cocaine is a powerful and very addictive drug. Cocaine is a stimulant drug, addictive due to its effect on the brain’s reward pathway. Signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse vary greatly depending on the method of ingestion.

The powdered form of cocaine, often referred to as ‘coke’, can be inhaled through the nose (snorted) or dissolved in water and injected directly into a vein. The substance can also be injected just under the skin (known as “skin popping”); this method increases the duration of euphoria, but can also result in infections or other medical issues. Common signs of cocaine addiction by a user who snorts the drug (the most popular method) include:

  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Nose bleeds
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarse throat
  • Chronic runny nose

“Crack” is a form of cocaine that is processed into a crystalized rock shape which is then smoked, typically in a pipe. With the lower purity levels in this processed form and the larger potential for introduction to other dangerous chemicals, long-term crack cocaine users often experience severe side effects or symptoms.

People who abuse cocaine often have noticeable changes in behaviour or personality. These are usually warning signs that the amount or frequency of use has increased. These signs include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Restlessness and discontent
  • Increased anxiety
  • Paranoia


Cocaine addicts often experience severe paranoia, a temporary state of extreme paranoid psychosis. When the addict is in a severe paranoid state, they completely lose touch with reality and experience auditory hallucinations (hearing things that are not real).

Ingesting cocaine by mouth can cause ulcers in the stomach lining and can kill an enormous amount of tissue in the bowel due to reduced blood flow.

Regardless of the method of use or the frequency, cocaine abusers can experience heart attacks or strokes. Often, cocaine-related deaths start with a heart attack or seizure and are followed by respiratory arrest at which time the person stops breathing.

Common serious health issues associated with cocaine addiction include:

  • Heart related problems, including heart attacks
  • Respiratory issues, including respiratory failure
  • Nervous system issues, including strokes
  • Digestive problems
  • Contracting HIV and other diseases (typically the result of using unclean needles)
  • Serious skin infections and boils
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Death


Like addiction to other drugs, cocaine dependence results from the effect the drug produces on the brain. Cocaine targets the brain’s reward pathway, creating feelings of pleasure. Cocaine works as a stimulant, increasing the levels chemicals in the brain, especially dopamine. Low amounts of dopamine are regularly produced in response to the pleasurable activities we all experience as part of our daily lives.

There are two primary ways that cocaine produces its euphoric effect:

  • Artificially increasing the release of dopamine in the brain
  • Preventing the normal re-absorption of dopamine back into the brain’s nervous system

With continued cocaine addiction and abuse, the body develops a tolerance to the increased amounts of dopamine. Inevitably, the user needs to use more cocaine in order to achieve the sensation of euphoria, or “being high.”

Cocaine addicts typically experience long-term changes in the brain’s reward pathway system and other brain functions. This can cause unusual or unpredictable behaviour. Most cocaine users become increasingly frustrated when their increased tolerance to the substance results in a failure to achieve the high they once enjoyed. This often results in an increase in the amount of the drug used, increasing the risk a potentially deadly overdose. In addition, using cocaine with alcohol greatly increases the possibility of a deadly overdose.

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