The stimulant drug has been used by medics throughout history for local anesthesia. Although when they discovered how addicting it was for people, they developed some less addictive anesthetics. Currently, cocaine is not used for medical purposes in its pure form. It's important to note that cocaine, as well as other drugs, is illegal to use recreationally.
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The street name given for cocaine is "Crack." The main difference between pure cocaine and crack is that the latter has the hydrochloride component removed so that users can smoke it. Cocaine gets called "Crack" due to the sound it makes when it's heated alongside ammonia or baking soda. Crack cocaine typically looks like a white, crystal powder. The form of cocaine may vary depending on the source.
Many street dealers mix cocaine with other components, such as flour or talcum powder to make it more attractive to the buyer, with talcum powder being one of the most popular variants. Some dealers also mix cocaine with other drugs, such as synthetic opioids, to increase its effect.
It's important to note that adding synthetic opioids to a cocaine mix can make it even more dangerous to ingest for users. Several reported deaths due to cocaine overdose are due to cocaine mixed with synthetic opioids.
Street dealers have given cocaine several names besides crack cocaine (although this one seems to be the most common one). Here's a list of other common names for cocaine:
The name given to cocaine by street dealers may depend on the variant. However, most people refer to this illicit drug from South America as cocaine or crack.
People consume cocaine in several different ways, depending on the variant. In essence, people can get cocaine by smoking, injecting, or snorting. Smoking this stimulant drug involves heating its crystals to produce vapors that are inhaled by the user. Some people dissolve the cocaine powder in water to inject it directly into their bodies.
Snorting cocaine involves inhaling the powder through the nostrils. Once the powder goes in, it gets to the bloodstream through the nasal tissue. While the effects of cocaine use are intense, they may not last more than five minutes, which is why many people take increasingly higher doses of cocaine to maintain their "high."
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, injecting, smoking, or snorting cocaine can alter the levels of dopamine in the brain, which can be an issue for people who administer this drug repeatedly.
In essence, the released dopamine goes back into the cell where it came from in the first place. Once people consume cocaine, the dopamine doesn't get recycled, which causes accumulations of it between the connecting cells. Cocaine addictions start because the high dopamine levels may make the user consume this drug repeatedly.
Additionally, the more people consume cocaine, the more likely they are to consume increasingly higher doses to achieve the desired "high" state since the brain may get more and more sensitive to the cocaine.
There are short-term and long-term effects of cocaine use. While those effects may vary depending on the person, it's also vital to keep them in mind.
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Considering the short-term effects of cocaine in a person, consumers primarily use it as a method to concentrate on mental or physical tasks better. While that's the desired effect by most people, some of them experience adverse symptoms.
The following is a list of common health effects cocaine can have at short-term, provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):
Most people experience constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, and a high body temperature, making it easier for someone else to notice if a person is using. Additionally, unfavorable reactions to cocaine include a higher risk of engaging in violent behavior or suffering auditory hallucinations.
As mentioned before, the effects of cocaine depend on the person, but they also depend on the method of ingestion. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects caused by the snorting method may last up to 30 minutes, whereas other methods, such as smoking, may only last up to 10 minutes.
Cocaine use can cause other symptoms in the future which may be more dangerous for the user. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse mentions, the long-term consequences for repeated use of cocaine depend on the method of ingestion.
People who snort cocaine can suffer several problems with their nose, including loss of smell, runny nose, prolonged nosebleeds, or difficulty breathing. On the other hand, people who smoke cocaine can be at higher risk of suffering from asthma or pneumonia.
While consuming cocaine by the mouth isn't that common, it can also cause some issues, according to many health care providers worldwide. Some of those issues include bowel decay.
The highest risk comes from cocaine injections since they increase the risk of contracting HIV and other bloodborne infections. This doesn't mean that only people who inject themselves with cocaine have the risk of contracting HIV, but these risks are certainly higher for people who do take injections.
Many national institutes and experts have claimed that repeated use of cocaine can cause a higher risk of getting infected with HIV. Additionally, people infected with HIV can contract hepatitis C. It's important to note that cocaine tends to impair a person's judgment, which can lead to sexual behavior with HIV or hepatitis C-infected people.
According to many health national institutes, a person can certainly overdose on cocaine or other related substances. After a cocaine overdose, the person may experience serious adverse effects which can threaten their life. Depending on the circumstances, a cocaine overdose can be unintentional or intentional.
Some of the most frequent effects after a cocaine overdose include the following:
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There are ways to treat cocaine addiction overdoses, although it's important to note that no particular medication can immediately reverse the effects of extreme drug use of that kind. In emergency cases, first responders treat the most urgent issues, such as assessing a seizure or heart attack risk by restoring blood flow to the heart or stopping the seizure altogether.
Once the health care providers take care of the immediate risks to the person's health, they can start creating a complete plan to get the drug completely out of the person's system.
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As mentioned before, cocaine use can cause an extra accumulation of dopamine in the brain, causing its reward system to alter itself. As this reward system gets less sensitive to cocaine use, the person may start taking more doses to achieve the same effects they had when they first tried it.
Considering how strong cocaine use can be on a person, its withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. These symptoms for cocaine use withdrawal include:
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Thankfully, there are many safe ways to treat cocaine addiction, although the most common way is through behavioral therapy. While there are no current FDA-approved medications to treat cocaine addiction, there are medications that can help people treat the symptoms that come from cocaine withdrawal.
According to the NTA, about 70% of people who got treatment for cocaine drug use reduced their consumption drastically within six months of starting the treatments.
Treatment programs for cocaine and related drugs have been proven highly effective for many patients worldwide since there are several approaches to the treatment. In severe cases of cocaine drug use, the patients get personalized care to prevent relapses and deal with other symptoms that come from the withdrawal.
Some of those programs for substance use disorders include the following:
Online Therapy has also been advertised recently as a safe way to get motivational incentives to stop using cocaine or other drugs. However, this method is still being tested as not many experts believe online therapy is the right way to go for treating addiction.
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