When you abuse cocaine, the brain starts to adapt so that the reward pathway becomes less sensitive to natural reinforcers. Circuits involved in stress become increasingly sensitive, leading to increased displeasure and negative moods when not taking the drug. These combined effects make the user more likely to focus on seeking the drug. Keep reading to learn how our Florida cocaine rehab may be able to help with cocaine abuse.
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Developing a tolerance to cocaine
With regular use, tolerance may develop so that higher doses and more frequent use of are needed to produce the same level of pleasure and relief from withdrawal experienced initially. Users can also develop sensitization, in which less cocaine is needed to produce anxiety, convulsions, or other toxic effects.Tolerance to cocaine reward and sensitization to cocaine toxicity can increase the risk of overdose in a regular user.
Users take cocaine in binges, in which cocaine is used repeatedly and at increasingly higher doses. This leads to increased irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia, and even a full-blown psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations. Increasing doses or higher frequency of use, the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects increases. Studies suggest that binging on cocaine during adolescence enhances sensitivity to the rewarding effects of cocaine and MDMA (Ecstasy or Molly).Thus, binge use of cocaine during adolescence may further increase vulnerability to continued use of the drug among some people.
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Cocaine abuse can have immediate health consequences
Snorting cocaine can lead to losing your sense of smell, irritation of the nasal septum, sniffling, nosebleeds, and hoarseness.Injecting cocaine can lead to puncture marks, collapsed veins, localized and systemic infection and allergic reactions.
Cocaine damages many other organs in the body. It reduces blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to tears and ulcerations. Many chronic cocaine users lose their appetite and experience significant weight loss and malnourishment. Cocaine has significant and well-recognized toxic effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. Chest pain that feels like a heart attack is common and sends many cocaine users to the emergency room. Cocaine use is linked with increased risk of stroke, as well as inflammation of the heart muscle, deterioration of the ability of the heart to contract, and aortic ruptures.
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Potential health consequences of long-term cocaine abuse
- Chronic, extreme fatigue.
- Unrelenting headaches.
- Abdominal pain.
- Significant weight loss.
- Bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis from unsafe injection use.
- Heart arrhythmias and heart attack.
- Cardiac arrest.
- Widespread ischemic vascular disease.
- Respiratory arrest.
In addition to the increased risk for stroke and seizures, other neurological problems can occur with long-term cocaine use.There have been reports of intracerebral hemorrhage, or bleeding within the brain, and balloon-like bulges in the walls of cerebral blood vessels.Movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, may also occur after many years of cocaine use. Generally, studies suggest that a wide range of cognitive functions are impaired with long-term cocaine use—such as sustaining attention, impulse inhibition, memory, making decisions involving rewards or punishments, and performing motor tasks.
Research indicates that during periods of abstinence, the memory of the cocaine experience or exposure to cues associated with drug use can trigger strong cravings, which can lead to relapse.
Read More from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Our Florida Cocaine Rehab Can Help
If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine abuse, our Florida cocaine rehab helps many individuals get back on the right track. For a free assessment, please give us a call today to speak with an addiction specialist.