Cocaine is another drug that was long in the spotlight but is now less so because of the opioid problems our world currently faces. However cocaine is just as prevalent as ever and is often used, mixed, with heroin or fentanyl (both opioids). Cocaine addiction is treatable through Medical detox and rehab programs.
Addiction in Connecticut
Cocaine is a stimulant and comes in mainly two forms, a powder form which is typically sniffed and a rock/crystalline form that is primarily smoked. Along with its pain reduction effects, cocaine also speeds up heart and breathing rates. The brain will also release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasurable feelings and general positivity. It is highly addictive and can lead users to overdose, typically while using another drug with it.
In 2017, there were over 350 deaths related to cocaine abuse in Connecticut. Many also included other drugs. Of special note is the appearance of fentanyl in cocaine being sold by some dealers. It is believed that the distributing and processing part of the manufacturing is causing cross contamination between the two powders causing accidental deaths in non-opioid users in addition to the users who may be intentionally mixing them. A very tiny amount of fentanyl snorted compared to cocaine can cause nearly instant death.
Dangers of Cocaine
Cocaine and crack pose a variety of physical threats to a user due to how the body chemistry is altered when used. Blood vessels contract both on contact and through the blood stream, including those near the heart. The results are a loss of oxygen to affected parts of the body, especially the nose and throat for cocaine and mouth and throat and lungs for the crack user. When oxygen is deprived due to the induced vessel constriction, damage is done to nearby areas that depend on the oxygen being delivered as they are effectively ‘suffocated’.
Over time, when use become more frequent, the body will not have time to properly heal before oxygen is restricted again and the tissues become irreversibly damaged by essentially slowly rotting away. For cocaine users it may simply manifest itself as a collapsed septum but for crack users, it can result in collapsing lungs and lung damage and tooth loss. Both kinds of use will also result in difficulty swallowing food. The cardiovascular system itself will become compromised for the same reasons, as well, which can complicate other illnesses and conditions as well as induce seizures and strokes. Heavy use can also lead to a malnourished body from a poor diet as eating behaviors are altered by the addictive patterns.
Differences Between Cocaine and Crack
Cocaine and crack have roughly the same effects but are still seen as rather different forms due to drug prevention messaging and laws enacted to deal with both. Crack is almost always cheaper than cocaine and is specially treated to be smoked in a pipe. Crack effects tend to be stronger but do not last as long as cocaine. The effects of snorting also take a little longer to be felt while crack’s effects when smoked can be felt within a minute or two.
Generally, crack is much tougher to treat as an addiction than powder cocaine. Crack also becomes addictive and habit forming much quicker than powder cocaine. It’s only been recently that changes in crack and cocaine laws on possession, distribution and use became more in line with each other despite being two different versions of the same compound.
Currently, both drugs are federally illegal in all 50 states and US provinces, including Connecticut.
Long Term Use Side Effects
Cocaine can have lasting permanent physical and psychological effects on addicts. Part of what cocaine does is prohibit oxygen flow in smaller blood vessels. This effect is primarily noticeable in the nose for those who snort cocaine. When the drug enters the nose, vessels those vessels become damaged from the lack of oxygen. When the user begins to snort more frequently, there is not enough time for the body to heal the damage, further damaging the tissues in the nose. When this continues over a long period of time, the septum of a heavy user of cocaine will quite literally collapse.
Before this happens, cocaine will leave it’s user with a runny nose, sometimes a bloody nose, mood swings and irritability, insomnia and bouts of irrationality. The longer the drug is used, the more likely a stroke or heart attack is to occur in a user. Crack can also lead to tooth decay and tooth loss from the same lack of oxygen that direct contact of the drug causes. The, while passing through the mouth, the blood vessels in the gums are affected, choking off the teeth and gums themselves. Over time, without sufficient space between uses to heal, the gums and teeth will slowly die and fall out. Liver, kidney and lung damage can occur from use depending on the way it is used.
Addicts who try to quit suffer deep and severe depression.
Primary Treatment Options
Treating cocaine addiction can be difficult, especially for a long term user. There are no special drugs developed to make any process of reversing dependency easier to cope with the feelings of withdrawal and related symptoms. A detox period followed by one on one and group psychotherapy is a common option for basic treatment.
Long term, post-treatment relapse prevention is often included in the available offerings from Connecticut addiction treatment centers. Length of treatment is highly dependent on the level of addiction the patient exhibits. Users with higher and more frequent usage may require 5 or 6 months in drug rehab treatment. Others may find the prescribed 90 days to be plenty of time to get their usage under control and deal with any underlying psychological issues that tend to accompany addictions of any kind.
The range of counseling available includes family and individual tailored programs. Behavioral therapy is also quite frequently deployed due to the power of cocaine over habitual actions and the creation of use-triggers. Some people may find a twelve-step program to be suitable for them, which includes organizations such as Narcotics Anonymous. As the science of addiction understands the nature of the illness more thoroughly, new treatment and more effective treatments will be developed.
Contact us today to end the cocaine addiction that is affecting you or a loved one.