There are many myths about street drugs, usually making them more desirable and glamorous than the actual facts. The Web can be a valuable tool to help the public find out the truth about drugs and effective drug prevention and rehabilitation programs, but it is also filled with misinformation that can cause irreparable damage. This short article gives you the true facts about cocaine, based on literature from the U.S. government, which gets much of its data from institutions of higher learning and research.
Cocaine is a stimulant that has proven to be very addictive and disabling when used on a continual basis. The cocaine that you see in the movies is cocaine hydrochloride and is a white powder that is snorted into the nasal tissues or dissolved in water and injected into the veins. The injection of the drug is the most dangerous because the cocaine molecules are delivered to the brain quicker and are in more concentrated form than when it is snorted up one’s nose.
The third method of administration of cocaine into the body is by smoking the vapors of the drug into the lungs, which then enters the blood stream. All three of these methods of getting cocaine into the blood stream are dangerous and lead to addiction. Each route of administration varies in the intensity and duration of the effects of cocaine. The more quickly cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the brain, the more impact one gets from the drug, gaining the desired effects of increased energy, mental alertness and reduced fatigue. Injecting and smoking cocaine produces faster results than snorting the drug.
The faster the drug is delivered to the brain, the more extreme are the effects. However, the intense high that comes from injecting and/or smoking cocaine equates into a shorter period of drug effect. The buzz or high from snorting cocaine last between 15 to 30 minutes, whereas smoking cocaine’s high last five to ten minutes. Once a person experiences the high from cocaine, the desire is to keep that feeling as long as possible, which leads to cocaine users doing large quantities of the drug divided into multiple episodes of administering the drug. More often with smoking and injecting, but still using it repeatedly to keep the buzz going.
This high or buzz comes from the effect that cocaine has on the central nervous system in increasing the levels of dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter that is associated with the feeling of pleasure and movement in the brain’s reward circuitry. The neurons, or brain cells, use dopamine to communicate with each other when there is a stimulus that helps the body survive, like smelling good foods that leads one to eating them. Cocaine has the opposite outcome, but the brain doesn’t register the difference. Once this signal is released by dopamine, the neurochemical is reabsorbed by the neurons, which stops the pleasure signal.
This normal feedback mechanism is disrupted by the power of cocaine and the result is a feeling of elation or euphoria. Repeated use of cocaine in an attempt to sustain this euphoria causes changes in the brain’s reward mechanisms and causes addiction.
The abuse of cocaine causes constricted blood vessels and increased body temperatures, elevated heartbeats and blood pressures. This can cause headaches and gastrointestinal cramping and nausea. Chronic cocaine users also become malnourished because the drug curbs one’s appetite. Snorting cocaine can lead to a loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, swallowing difficulties, hoarseness and sinus problems. Swallowing or ingesting cocaine orally can cause severe bowel gangrene. Injecting cocaine can lead to severe allergic reactions and increased risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases. Chronic cocaine use leads to heightened anxiety, irritability, restlessness and paranoia, with extreme cases having complete breaks with reality.
All of these methods of administration lead to acute cardiovascular and cerebrovascular emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes.
Efforts by Narconon’s Drug Education campaigns and other drug prevention activities have had an outcome of reducing the use of cocaine in the U.S.; with this last years usage being lower than it has been since the early 1990s. Survey also show that high school students are presently much more aware of the dangers of cocaine than they were twenty years ago.
The numbers of people being initiated into the use of cocaine has also fallen in the past five years with this last year showing significant drops from 2007 to 2008. This has also been shown for those that have started using crack, the smokable form of cocaine.
Those persons that have become addicted to cocaine or crack cocaine can take comfort in the knowledge that biophysical treatment programs have a high success in ending this addiction by regaining the abilities of the persons that have been adversely affected by this addiction. Narconon has proven to have the most effective cocaine and crack cocaine rehabilitation program with over 70% success in treating this addiction.