Cocaine is an intensely powerful stimulant drug that’s derived from coca leaves, a common plant native to the region of South America. When taken, it creates excitability, energy, excessive talkativeness and short-term euphoria along with potentially harmful physical side effects, such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Cocaine is highly illegal and ranked as the second most trafficked drug throughout the world.
Combining Cocaine With Other Drugs
Cocaine is often taken with a variety of other substances, including heroin, marijuana, amphetamines and tranquilizers. These potent combinations greatly enhance the dangers of using cocaine. Along with the possibility of developing an addiction to another drug besides cocaine, a user easily can produce a fatal mix of narcotics.
Cocaine’s Effects on the Mind and Body
Short-term Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine induces an intense, short-term high that’s directly followed by opposite effects, which include irritability, depression and a strong craving to get more of the drug. People on cocaine rarely sleep or eat properly and sometimes experience increased heart rate, convulsions or muscle spasms. Cocaine can make a person feel anxious, hostile, angry and paranoid.
No matter how often or how much cocaine is used, it increases the chance of experiencing a seizure, respiratory failure, stroke or heart attack, any of which can lead to an unexpected death.
Long-term Effects of Cocaine
As tolerance to cocaine inevitably increases, it then becomes necessary to take more and more of it to achieve the same euphoric high. Prolonged every day use can cause a loss of appetite and sleep deprivation. Some people refer to habitual cocaine users as “dope fiends,” since getting their hands on more of the drug appears to be the only thing that matters to them at this point in their addiction. A user can start to become psychotic and experience hallucinations as well.
After a certain amount of time, cocaine starts to interfere with the manner in which the brain normally processes chemicals. In other words, the user needs more of it just to feel “normal.” Sadly, individuals who get addicted to cocaine lose interest in nearly every area of their once normal lives.
When a user is coming down from the drug, he can experience unbearable depression and do things he’d normally never do, even sleep with someone to get more of the drug or steal from people he loves.
Risks Assumed by People on Cocaine
A variety of risks are often linked to people while under the influence of cocaine. Many cocaine addicts feel invincible and fail to believe they’re in any real danger. For example, cocaine-related behaviors represent an important area of study to researchers since they influence the state of public health in many important ways. Here are some examples:
• Researchers have discovered that people on cocaine often engage in higher risk-taking sexual activities, including promiscuity and decreased use of condoms, which increases the risk to contract HIV and many other sexually transmitted diseases.
• Violence related to cocaine use is a key cause of both injury and mortality.
Cocaine use is an issue that generally coexists with many other problems like alcoholism and incarceration. Stimulant drug use also is linked to negative behaviors that support addiction, including theft, involvement with the sex trade and other illegal activities that can lead to time in jail or prison.
How to Help a Cocaine Addict
Few things are more heart-wrenching in life than dealing with a loved one who has an addiction to cocaine. You love the individual with all your heart and want to help him stop using the drug, but you don’t want to add “fuel to the fire” by enabling him to continue using the drug. Here are some tips on how to deal with people on cocaine and ways you can help:
• Don’t idly sit by and wait for the person to hit rock bottom, since his rock bottom could be a serious injury, prison or even death. Get proactive in helping the addict recover.
• Keep in mind that cocaine addiction is an actual disease that can happen to anyone, from any walk of life. Instead of judging the individual, ask what you can do to help.
Ask yourself if the energy, time and tears you’ve invested in trying to help your loved one stop using have led to success. If you answered no, you’re not alone by far. Empty threats, anger and tears will never cure someone of a disease. You simply can’t help those who won’t help themselves. Start focusing on people you can help. Here are some ways to make a difference:
• Stop bluffing. Follow through on any promises or threats you make 100 percent of the time in a calm and clear manner to the user.
• Stop being an enabler. Don’t “do for” the addict anymore or make excuses for him. He has to take responsibility for his actions no matter how much it pains you to watch.
• Seek support for yourself. If you’re giving all of your physical, mental and emotional help to the addict, who’s helping you? Don’t be afraid to ask for help or lean on someone else’s shoulder. Confide in trusted family members, friends or clergy if you feel it’s too much to bear.
• Develop an intervention plan if the addict isn’t willing to seek help on his own. Sometimes “tough love” is the only way.
• Determine how much longer you’re willing to sacrifice your own life for the addict’s. How long will you endure the fear, pain, frustration and overall suffering your loved one’s addiction is causing you and everyone else in his life? Seriously consider going to a local support group and get help for yourself. Usually, there are many community programs available for people dealing with an addict in their lives.
If you have a cocaine addiction or know someone who does, dial the hotline number today at 800-447-9081 to get the help and support you need. Everyone deserves a second chance at life. Pick up the phone and take it.