Head Games: Drugs of Abuse – Cocaine

Drugs of Abuse: C O C A I N E

Introduction

Cocaine is derived from the coca leaves of the coca plant found predominantly in South America. Cocaine is probably the most addictive drug, as it powerfully stimulates the Mesolimbic Dopamine Pathway, creating the intense and euphoric “rush” users desire and forcefully “imprints” the “I gotta have it again” craving that users are all too familiar with. Cocaine could be snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously and is very harmful to the brain and the heart.

Slang/Street Names

Coke, snow, flake, lady, toot, blow, big C, candy, crack, joy dust, stardust, rock, nose boulders, free-base.

 Pharmacokinetics

Cocaine affects the Central Nervous System and the Peripheral Nervous System by blocking the re-uptake of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (D), which will cause the rapid and intense up but will also cause the severe crash as these neurotransmitters are depleted. Tolerance to cocaine occurs quickly, because the NE and D are depleted. As this occurs, the user needs more in order to feel the same effect. Users of cocaine frequently report they are chasing the first high they experienced from their first hit of the drug.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Abuse/Dependence

Acute effects of cocaine abuse cause the person to have an elevated blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat, increased respiration and temperature, sweating, tremors, decreased appetite and increased sexual stimulation. Cocaine users may demonstrate increased energy, talkativeness, elation and hyperactivity, along with pressured speech, dry mouth and urinary retention. High doses of cocaine will produce anxiety, excitation, panic attacks, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia and violence.

Chronic effects of cocaine use may produce slurred speech, illogical thought processes, abdominal pain, vomiting, skin rashes, difficulty urinating, psychosis, heart attacks, cerebral hemorrhaging, convulsions and of course death.

Withdrawal and Overdose

Cocaine users will experience depression, agitation, anxiety and intense craving for more of the drug followed by fatigue, distorted sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, suicidal or homicidal ideation, and anhedonia, or the absence of pleasure from the acts one would normally receive pleasure in doing. Overdose could cause seizures, heart attacks, elevation in blood pressure and temperature, which could lead to cardiovascular shock and even death.

If you are struggling and abusing cocaine, please consider asking others for help, by clicking here.


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