Originally formulated as a painkiller, cocaine has become one of the most dangerous and highly addictive drugs in the world. The effects of cocaine use are experienced within just minutes of ingestion, and produce an extreme but short-lived sense of euphoria. The intensity of the high causes the user to immediately crave more of the drug; because the effects wear off rather quickly, it often leads the individual to satisfy that craving.
Due to the rapid cravings for more of the substance, cocaine is often used in a binge pattern – with an individual continuing to ingest more and more over a period of time. After several uses, the person is likely not fully aware of what’s happening around him, which is a great danger and often leads to overdose. Cocaine has consistently been the most commonly named illegal drug in emergency room visits for several years.
The severity of cocaine use and its effects are frightening. Cocaine creates a psychological dependence greater than nearly every other drug. Second only to methamphetamine, cocaine begins to build a tolerance and dependency almost immediately after the first use. The dependence on the drug makes it nearly impossible to stop using it, especially on one’s own. While approximately 13 percent of people in drug rehabilitation facilities name cocaine as their main drug of choice, that number doesn’t compare to even a small portion of those who are addicted to cocaine worldwide.
Cocaine is also the second-highest trafficked drug worldwide. The fact that one of the most dangerous substances is readily available to nearly anyone looking is terrifying. Studies show that children as young as 8 years old claim to have tried cocaine. With the ease of obtaining the drug, as well as the reality that elementary school-aged children are able to get ahold of it, having some basic knowledge about cocaine and its effects may help prevent a future problem.
There are numerous other dangers, risks and health issues caused by cocaine use. The effects of cocaine use may include:
-Loss of appetite and/or nausea, possibly leading to malnutrition
-Increased heart rate, body temperature and rate of breathing
-Changes in sleep patterns and/or difficulty breathing
-Elevated blood pressure, possibly leading to stroke or heart attack
-Anxiety and/or paranoia
-Strange, unexplainable, aggressive and even violent behavior
-Panic attacks and/or psychosis
-Increased chance of unusually risky behavior
-Tolerance and dependence
-Damage to nearly every organ in the body
In addition to the overall harm that goes along with the use of cocaine, there are even more dangers associated with each different route of administration (the way the drug is taken into the body).
Cocaine Use in Powdered Form
Some of the most useful information to have about a drug is the possible routes of administration and the effects of it. Most often found in a white powder form, cocaine is typically mixed with things such as talcum powder, corn starch or other sugars and/or drugs (like amphetamines). Having unknown substances mixed in with the illegal drug creates an even higher level of danger.
In powdered form, there are a few different routes of administration:
–Sniffing/Snorting: The most commonly used method of administration, the user simply sniffs the powder, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal cavity. Snorting cocaine can cause severe damage to the nasal passages, such as dryness, nosebleeds, decreased sensation/smell, difficulty breathing through the nose and lung damage.
–Ingested/Rubbed into the gums: Perhaps the least common method of ingestion is simply consuming the drug through the mouth or rubbing it on the gums, which transfers it into the bloodstream. This route can cause stomach pain, mouth and/or throat sores or other issues, and severe tooth decay.
–Injected: For an instant high, some people dissolve cocaine in water and inject it into their veins. This is the most dangerous method, and carries the highest risks. Injecting cocaine can cause abscesses at the injection site, infectious diseases from dirty or shared needles, and an elevated risk of overdose.
–Inhaled as a smoke or vapor: Breathing in the smoke or vapor from cocaine produces the same rapid effects as injection, but with fewer risks. However, inhaling it still carries additional risks of its own, such as lung damage and difficulty breathing.
It’s apparent that cocaine in its white powder form carries numerous risks and negative effects. However, that’s not the only form in which cocaine can be found. Knowing what separates the different forms is important information to maintain.
Crack Cocaine Abuse
Crack cocaine is another variation of cocaine. It’s the crystal form of the drug, and varies in appearance from white to yellow to a pale pinkish color. Though typically found in crystal form, it may also be found in larger blocks. Crack is the purest, most potent and most dangerous form of cocaine. Crack is anywhere from 50 percent to 75 percent more pure than cocaine in its powdered form. It’s much stronger and more dangerous, and due to its cheaper cost, crack cocaine abuse among teenagers is a serious problem.
Getting its name from the sound it makes when warmed, crack is heated and smoked. Smoking introduces the drug to the brain much faster, entering the bloodstream in this way.
While crack carries the same risks as cocaine, it also holds some of its own. Smoking the drug can cause severe lung and heart damage, and difficulty breathing. Because smoking the substance introduces it to the brain so quickly, addiction can develop much more rapidly.
Help for Ending Cocaine Use
If you or someone you know is suffering from cocaine or crack cocaine abuse, help is available. The first step is admitting that there’s a problem. If you believe someone may be using cocaine or crack cocaine, approach the individual in a calm and caring manner and tell him your concerns.
Offer support and information on possible treatment options. There are plenty of resources available, including treatment facilities, therapy options and support groups. Researching nearby treatment centers and choosing one based on the needs of the individual creates the greatest chance of success. For help finding resources, or for any other information, please call the helpline at 800-447-9081 today.