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Why is Cocaine So Addictive?

Cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant.

It is available in powder form or as a rock crystal, known as crack cocaine. Cocaine produces euphoria that can last anywhere from five to 30 minutes, depending on the administration of the drug. Cocaine is a very deadly drug and can cause sudden death or other serious health effects.

Cocaine’s Addictive Potential

Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is so addictive because of the changes it creates in the brain after repeated use. It acts as a stimulant within the body, creating increases levels of the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine is located in the reward circuit of the brain and associated with feelings of pleasure and movement. Neurons communicate by releasing dopamine when they experience something pleasurable. The dopamine is then recycled back into the neuron and the neuron signals shut off.

Cocaine use disrupts this communication process by preventing the recycling of the dopamine, which causes it to build up. When cocaine enters the brain, an excessive amount of dopamine is released, causing euphoria. If this process occurs frequently, the brain’s reward system and other parts of the brain begin to change, resulting in addiction. Tolerance also develops, meaning the body has gotten used to the drug and needs a stronger dose in order to achieve euphoria.

Cocaine is ranked as the second most addictive drug as well as the second most harmful drug. According to Medical News Today, there is no specific amount of cocaine that is considered an overdose. An overdose occurs based on the person’s level of tolerance and their overall physical health. On the other hand, a safe amount of cocaine does not exist. Although it is rare for someone to experience serious health and psychological effects from occasional cocaine use, sudden death can occur to anyone at any time. According to Medical News Today, in Europe, more than 3 percent of the sudden deaths that were reported between 2003 and 2006 were from cocaine use. They were all males between the ages of 21 and 45, with most of them suffering from heart problems.

According to Medical News Today, cocaine deaths in Florida nearly doubled between 2000 and 2005, from 150 to nearly 300 deaths. The good news is that cocaine use is decreasing among youth. A 2008 Monitoring the Future survey reported that 6 percent of 12th graders in the United States had used the drug at least once. The same survey the following year showed that only 2.4 percent of 12th graders had used the drug, posting a 60-percent decrease in use.

Effects of Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine produces several pleasurable effects while someone is high on the drug. However, taking too much of the drug at one time can cause serious effects to one’s health.

According to Medical News Today, these effects include the following:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Heart failure
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral hemorrhage

Recovering From Cocaine Addiction

Cognitive behavioral therapies are proven most effective for cocaine addiction. Because of the addictive nature of cocaine, inpatient treatment may be required for a certain period of time.

We have the resources to help you find an inpatient treatment facility in your area. Call us today for a free assessment and we can get you on the right track toward recovery.