Cocaine is a highly addictive drug, the profile of which has become raised in recent years, with use becoming more and more ‘normalised.’
Despite its classification as a Class A drug, cocaine is widely used recreationally and is readily available.
The risk of overdose for cocaine users, which can be deadly, is severe. The drugs ‘highs’ tend to be intense but short lived, which can lead to a tendency to use more.
Not everyone who uses the drug will become addicted and some people can use it occasionally without major issues arising. For others a life-destroying addiction can arise after just one use.
Few people suffering cocaine addiction will manage to become free of the drug without support due, in part, to the intense cravings it leads to.
How addictive is cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant, most usually taking the form of a white powder, which is snorted. As a mood altering substance it is one of the most addictive drugs there is and users generally have strong cravings for more, though it is possible to use it and not become addicted.
Another form of the drug, comes in small rocks and is smoked. It is known as ‘crack’ cocaine due to the noise it makes as it burns. All forms of cocaine commonly cause addiction but crack cocaine is especially addictive and risky.
Cocaine causes the release of the ‘happy’ chemical dopamine, which can result in intense feelings of euphoria and pleasure – a feeling users can quickly crave.
The short-lived nature of the high can lead to increased risk of overuse and addiction. Tolerance can also grow very quickly as the brain learns to release less dopamine in response to the drug. This can lead users to have to take more of the drug to achieve the same impact.
Effects of cocaine use
Cocaine tends to make users overly energetic, excitable, wide awake and upbeat. They may be more chatty than usual, more animated and more confident.
This can slip into arrogance, agitation and restlessness. The drug can make users’ hearts beat faster, lead to anxiety and a panicky state, lead to paranoia and encourage them to take risks they would not usually take.
Initially cocaine use may increase sexual desire but in the long-term can see a drop in sex drive.
It is not usual for a user to suffer a heavy comedown from the drug which can lead people continuing to take it until they run out or collapse.
After using cocaine, the heart may beat faster. A user may feel down and anxious the next day.
The hugely risky act of smoking crack leads to almost immediate effects, whilst a ‘high’ from snorting cocaine can take up to 30 minutes to materialise. The high from smoking lasts around ten minutes and perhaps up to 30 minutes when snorting.
About cocaine addiction
Not everyone who takes cocaine, particularly in its powder form, will become addicted.
Some people may be more prone to developing an addiction including those with mental health issues, who have suffered a trauma or a family history of addiction. However, anyone can become reliant on cocaine.
Addiction is broadly defined as the intense need to use the drug even, perhaps, when you have vowed not to or know it is having a negative impact on your life. Someone suffering an addiction to the drug may become obsessed by thoughts of it, begin taking it at times they would not have done so before or may start lying about their use or even stealing to fund it. It is not unusual for those addicted to cocaine to become erratic in their behaviour and aggressive.
Any level of use that feels out of control or compulsive could be classified as addiction. Ultimately if you or a loved one is worried about your use it is wise to seek help.
Cocaine use can have a catastrophic effect on lives and relationships.
Cocaine use can be deadly via toxic overdose or heart attack. It is particularly dangerous to mix cocaine with alcohol.
Repeated snorting of cocaine can severely damage the nose and may even cause it to rot, as famously happened to actress Daniella Westbrook.
The law relating to cocaine
Cocaine is a Class A drug, making possession and supply illegal.
Possession carries a potential prison sentence of up to seven years. Whilst supply of the drug, which includes obtaining it for a friend, can lead to a life sentence.
Driving under the influence of cocaine is also illegal and potentially highly dangerous.
A user who seeks help prior to being ‘caught’ in possession of cocaine or arrested for an associated criminal act are extremely unlikely to face punishment.
Call back request
For help with cocaine addiction
As with any suspected addiction, seeking help, or at least having a discussion with a professional, as soon as possible can limit the scale of the problem and potential damage caused.
There are community based support groups that can help and detox and rehab services are available. Trying to detox at home is particularly tough with cocaine due to the intense cravings and feelings of depression withdrawal can lead to.
Professional rehab helps users to understand why they became addicted to a substance, as well as tackling the physical addiction. It also allows users to learn long term alternative coping mechanisms.
There are no drugs offering a substitute for cocaine to use during recovery but there is medication that may help with associated symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety or trouble sleeping.
You may wish to contact your GP in the first instance for advice on cocaine addiction.
You are also welcome to contact us Port of Call for a free, non-judgemental chat. We specialise in advice surrounding private detox and rehab. All of our call handlers have personal experience of addiction.