Cocaine is one of the most dangerous substances out there. Its street names include “bump,” “coke,” “C,” “candy,” “flake,” “rock,” “snow,” “girl,” and “toot”. When it is mixed with heroin, it is often called a “speedball.” Even if you have tried or have become addicted to cocaine, you will find that hope is only a phone call away. The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 is there 24 hours a day for 365 days a year to answer your questions, to hear your concerns, and to help you get on the road to recovery.
It is essential to understand the impact that particular substances can have on you. You need to understand how cocaine works in the body and when it is time to make that phone call.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which a bushes native to South America. As a street drug, it is sold either as a powder that is snorted through the nose or as a rock crystal that is to be smoked. The powder can also be dissolved in liquid and injected. In its solid crystal form, it is often called “crack.” The powder form is often “cut” with similar-looking powders so that dealers can increase profits. These powders may enhance the effects of cocaine or simply make the amount of the drug seem larger.
Cocaine is considered a stimulant. It has limited medical use, under tightly controlled conditions, as anesthesia and in the treatment of upper respiratory problems. Its recreational use is illegal in the United States. Under U.S. law, cocaine is a Schedule II drug, meaning it has high abuse potential. Schedule II drugs also carry a very high risk of physical and psychological dependence.
Cocaine works by binding to three key neurotransmitters known as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. By binding to these chemicals, it prevents a process called reuptake. As a result, cocaine floods the brain with these neurotransmitters. It affects dopamine the most, which is the chemical that controls our mental reward system, motivation, pleasure response, and heightened emotions. With a focus on these areas of pleasure in the brain, cocaine produces its euphoric “high.”
How Prevalent Is Cocaine Use in the United States?
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cocaine is one of the more prevalent illicit drugs being used. Between 2016 and 2018, it was determined that 14.7% of the U.S. population had used cocaine at least once in their lives. That amounts to nearly 5 million Americans.
Another growing issue is substance use in the workplace. According to a Harvard University study, 70% of illicit drug users are also employed. Over 40% of these “functional” users felt their work suffered as a result of their substance use. Substance use in general is linked to lost profits for companies, as well as major injuries and fatalities among employees. As an example, among coal miners, the number of employees using substances either before, during, or after work was nearly 17%. Cocaine, in particular, is known to reduce a person’s ability to assess risk. What is more, according to the Harvard study, the two most-used substances in the workplace after alcohol are marijuana and cocaine.
Why Do People Use Cocaine?
In addition to euphoria, cocaine can instill a sense of confidence, strength, motivation, and energy. This is due to its stimulant effects and the fact that its speeds up the heart rate and raises the blood pressure. As the brain becomes accustomed to cocaine use, two things happen. The first is that the pleasure centers require more and more of the substance to keep activating. The second is that reducing the amount of the substance can have negative physical effects. Together, these two things make up what is called physical dependence.
Cocaine and other stimulant substances are often used to:
• Help get through a workday
• Make cleaning easier by boosting energy and attention
• Cope with unpleasant people, situations, and emotions
• Deal with or forget about grief
• Temporarily overcome depression
• Experiment with feel-good substances
• Alleviate boredom
• Tolerate higher amounts of alcohol
Over time, cocaine can take over a person’s natural ability to cope with life’s struggles. When a person cannot cope without a substance, it is called psychological dependence.
What Are the Side Effects?
The short-term side effects of cocaine use have been studied extensively. If you exhibit even minor side effects from cocaine use, you should consider calling The National Rehab Hotline. The most common effects include:
• Anxiety or panic
• Increased blood pressure
• Blood vessel constriction
• Elevated body temperature
• Dilated pupils
• Restlessness and irritability
• Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
The effects of large amounts of cocaine can manifest as more severe symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should call 911 first for treatment. These include:
• Erratic behavior
• Muscle spasms
• Violent behavior
The most severe symptoms do not necessarily occur after long-term use. Some of them have been reported during a person’s first experiment with cocaine.
If you are experiencing any of these effects, you, a friend, or a loved one should definitely call The National Rehab Hotline. If the effects appear dangerous or life-threatening, please call 911:
• An altered state of consciousness
• Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
• Gastrointestinal trouble (which could be indicative of an imminent stroke)
• Neurological changes like double vision, numbness, or paralysis
• Sudden high fever
In the most severe cases, even first-time users have suffered these symptoms. This is why, if you feel you have a problem, it is important to call The National Rehab Hotline. Since all calls are confidential, Hotline staffers can help you find resources or tell you if a symptom means you need to go to the hospital.
How Addictive Is Cocaine?
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cocaine is one of the most addictive substances that is taken recreationally, second only to heroin. Other highly ranked addictive substances include methamphetamines, alcohol, and nicotine. This reveals an additional danger of the “speedball” concoction of cocaine and heroin. It is made out of the two most addictive substances known. It is of note that these substances are also ranked as the two most harmful by this same study.
Is Cocaine Withdrawal Dangerous?
Coming down from any substance that is misused carries risks. This is because of what are called the comedown, crash, and rebound effects. Each of these is possible with cocaine withdrawal.
A comedown is a gradual reduction in the “high” from cocaine use. Its speed is determined by the amount of cocaine taken, how long the person has been using, and a variety of biological and psychological factors. If the high was pleasurable, the comedown period can be disappointing to the user and can make him or her want to use again. If the high was too intense, with feelings of paranoia, hallucinations, or physical discomfort, the comedown can be a pleasant feeling. This can, in turn, lead to further experimentation to find the “perfect high.”
Withdrawal from cocaine can also happen suddenly. This is called a “crash.” Crashes are usually marked by a sudden full-body feeling of exhaustion. This is especially intense with stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine (meth). The length and intensity of the crash can be influenced by the amount of the substance taken and the amount the user exerted himself or the time stayed awake during the high. A crash is a way in which the body restores itself. Long periods of sleep, lethargy, and weakness are typical during a crash.
Finally, there is the rebound response, sometimes called the rebound effect or the rebound phenomenon. This can occur even with prescription drugs like cardiovascular medication or antidepressants. With some drugs, the rebound will manifest as symptoms ranging from headache to flu-like symptoms. In most instances, a rebound response for a drug will involve exactly the effects that the drug was meant to treat. So, with painkillers, a rebound symptom might be extreme pain. With sedatives, the rebound could involve restlessness and agitation.
The rebound response occurs because the body is trying to attain homeostasis (chemical and biological balance). This involves the restoration of electrolytes, oxygenation of the blood, restoration of the circadian rhythm (sleep and wake cycle), regulation of heartbeat and respiration, and muscle relaxation.
With cocaine specifically, rebound responses can include extreme tiredness, slowed heart rate (bradycardia), low blood pressure (hypotension), pain, depression, and suppressed breathing.
To make more money, cocaine dealers will often mix (“cut”) cocaine with something else that looks similar, like talc, cornstarch, boric acid, laxatives, or even laundry detergent. Street-bought cocaine, therefore, presents many dangers because the user does not know exactly what it is cut with. Some chemicals used may even potentiate (increase the effects of) cocaine. The results can be overdose, poisoning, infection, and even death.
Cocaine overdose, sometimes called cocaine toxicity, is a very serious situation. According to SAMHSA*, signs of cocaine overdose include:
*United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
• Chest pain
• High fever
• Accelerating heart rate
• Nausea and vomiting
• Paranoid episodes
• Violent acts against self or others
If any of these symptoms are present, immediately calling 911 is vital.
With each day, there is new hope for a better, healthier life. When a person decides to quit cocaine, it is important to seek out the care of an understanding professional. The National Rehab Hotline can be your first step, and it can be a lifesaving one. This is because withdrawing from cocaine may need to involve medical management.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), cocaine withdrawal symptoms after prolonged usage usually occur within 24 hours of quitting and can last three to five days. As with other stimulants, withdrawal symptoms during this period may include depression, increased sleeping, irritability, increased appetite, and muscle aches. These symptoms fade after a few days. A medical professional should monitor you through this period.
In some cases, medical supervision may be necessary. In addition to monitoring, medications may be administered to help ease withdrawal symptoms. These may include mild painkillers, anti-anxiety medication like benzodiazepines, or antipsychotic medication in the event of paranoia, delusion, hallucinations, or self-harm. Other treatments (called “interventions” by physicians and mental health professionals) for cocaine withdrawal include psychotherapy, a stay at a residential rehabilitation center (“going to rehab”), and nutrient therapy.
Management of withdrawal symptoms is serious, which is why it is so important that a person not go through it alone. The Hotline can provide a list of nearby rehab centers and outpatient facilities. Quitting cocaine does not involve “detox,” and the main problem is that the person simply cannot stop using the drug unless he or she is in a residential treatment center or hospital. Insurance companies may only want to pay for outpatient treatment. The experts at The National Rehab Hotline may be able to help you arrange treatment. The first thing you need to do is call 866-210-1303.
As with any addictive substance, cravings can occur. However, there are many services that can help you manage cravings, from Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or private therapy to intensive outpatient service or rehab. However, it is important to note that everything starts with a phone call. Calling The National Rehab Hotline at 866-210-1303 can be your first step. It could even save your life.