In fact, estimates from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that an astounding 1.5 million U.S. adults used cocaine in the past month. That's 0.6% of the total population!
And those numbers are even higher among young adults. Around 1.4% of Americans aged 18 to 25 abused coke in the last month.
As with any kind of drug, the more often you abuse cocaine, the more likely you are to become addicted. According to data from the NSDUH, around 913,000 Americans struggle with an addiction to coke.
Plus, abusing this drug is also incredibly dangerous. Reports from the Drug Abuse Warning Network showed that cocaine was involved in over 505 thousand emergency department visits. That makes up about 40% of all drug-related trips to the emergency room.
As you can see, coke abuse is both rampant and deadly.
That's why if you're struggling with an addiction to cocaine, it's vital that you know as much as you can about the perils of this dependency problem.
What is cocaine addiction like? How do I know if I'm an addict? What are the short- and long-term side effects? What is recovery treatment like?
We'll take a look at all of these questions and more in this comprehensive guide.
Addiction is a disease, and with the right help on your side, recovery is possible. But the very first step towards sobriety is education. So, let's take a closer look.
In order to truly understand what addiction to this powerful drug is really like, it's important to learn a bit more about cocaine itself.
Cocaine is an incredibly addictive drug that's derived from the coca plant found in South America.
Like many other illicit drugs (such as heroin and meth), cocaine started out having a legitimate medical purpose. It was first isolated from the coca leaf in 1860 by a German chemist named Albert Nieman and was marketed as a topical anesthetic that numbed the skin, making surgeries far less painful.
Coke was completely legal for several decades and was even used in a number of products like cough medicine and even Coca-Cola for a time. However, this drug was soon found to be highly addictive, and as a result of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, it was effectively outlawed entirely.
However, cocaine use is still common today, and it remains one of the most widely abused drugs in the country.
Using coke brings about intense energy and a sense of euphoria, making it extremely popular on the club scene as well.
Some of the most common names for cocaine include:
Cocaine comes in the form of an extremely fine white powder and is often sold in small clear baggies.
People most commonly abuse this drug by forming the coke into a line and snorting the powder through their nose using a straw, rolled up paper, or a tube. The cocaine is then absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues and mucous membranes.
The coke then travels through the blood until it reaches the brain where it then creates the high that many addicts crave.
Some abusers may also rub the powder on the gums where it's also absorbed, though not as quickly or as completely.
It's also possible to inject cocaine too. An addict can dissolve the powder in a small amount of water and use a needle to flood the bloodstream with the drug almost instantaneously. This will often lead to a much more intense high with a quicker onset but a shorter duration.
And finally, coke abusers can also smoke this drug when it's in the solid form known as crack cocaine. This produces a high that's more intense and comes on almost immediately.
No matter how you abuse cocaine, though, it's important to remember that each and every form can be both dangerous and deadly.
A lot of people use the terms crack and cocaine interchangeably. However, there are some pretty big differences between the two that you should know about.
First off, crack is the solid, crystalline form of cocaine and often looks like a small, white rock. The name comes from the crackling sound created when the rock is heated up. The vapors from the heated rock are then inhaled.
As the high from crack is much quicker and more intense than regular cocaine, it actually ends up being far more addictive.
Added to that, since the effects are intensified, a crack addiction might even be more likely to lead to a deadly overdose as well.
Coke has a long history of use, and at one point it was even legal in the United States. But surprisingly, that isn't the most interesting thing about this drug. There are a lot of facts about cocaine that you've probably never heard of.
For instance, did you know that:
While these facts are all undoubtedly very interesting, it's important to remember that cocaine is also incredibly dangerous. Every single use of this drug is putting your life at risk, and even if you think your batch is safe and pure, you still run the risk of a heart attack, overdose or another health complication every time you use it.
Like other stimulants, coke can make you feel more energized, talkative, and euphoric.
You might experience a surge in self-confidence, a greater desire to move around and engage with others, and you may also feel more mentally alert and sharp.
But not everyone experiences a cocaine high the same. Some users might feel like they're more physically and mentally capable. Others could experience the very opposite. It simply depends on the individual.
After you do it, you feel really talkative, really energetic, and very euphoric; but the euphoria is more subtle than you'd think. It's really hard to describe. The stimulation is also very subtle. You don't feel twitchy or jittery, but you will get saucer-eyed and you will talk really fast.
Toppalini via Drugs-Forum
It's like everything is clear to you, there are no uncertainties about conversations, the task in hand etc. You always make the right decision. When I'm sober I notice that conversations get boring pretty quick whereas when I'm high conversations just run with the break every 30 mins to do another bump. You can very easily do it without anyone having a clue you're doing it. It's also great if you're a latebird as it keeps you awake for longer so your night never ends. Well until you run out of money.
Feels like you just ran 10 miles in 5 minutes, feels so good, then, after 30-60 minutes, it feels like all you want to do is more coke, and that idea starts to permeate every crevice in your brain.
Safetyfirst11 via Drugs-Forum
However, while the high of cocaine can be euphoric and pleasurable, it might also lead to an increase in anxiety, paranoia, and irritability.
Added to that, the cravings you feel for coke can be particularly intense while coming down. And that can lead to binging on the drug for hours at a time.
Stimulants, in general, have a direct impact on one very important part of your brain chemistry: the pleasure system.
This system is mostly controlled and regulated by a special chemical in the mind called dopamine. Whenever you perform an action that you get pleasure out of - whether it's achieving a goal at work, eating a good meal, or experiencing sexual climax - that feeling is brought on by a surge of dopamine.
Essentially, it's purpose is to keep us performing actions that are helpful for our survival and for completing important tasks.
However, cocaine and other stimulants like crystal meth highjack this pleasure chemical and cause the brain to release it without having to perform those important actions. Added to that, it can end up releasing much more dopamine than any natural action can.
In fact, as the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) point out, drugs like cocaine can actually release as much as 10 times as much dopamine as activities like eating or having sex.
As a result of these heightened dopamine levels, the drug abuser experiences a burst of energy, a surge of confidence, and a powerful euphoria.
However, with enough abuse, a coke user can become dependent on this drug in order to function normally. Ultimately, their cocaine abuse might also become compulsive, overpowering, and dangerous.
Over time, a cocaine abuser can develop a physical dependence on this drug. Essentially, this means that their body is incapable of performing normally without some amount of the drug in their system.
NIDA defines dependence as a condition that "develops when the neurons adapt to the repeated drug exposure and only function normally in the presence of the drug."
With continued coke abuse, you can also develop tolerance - needing to take more and more of the drug in order to achieve the same effect.
Withdrawals are another part of physical dependence. Because your body is now dependent on coke, when you don't have it in your system you will experience a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. Many addicts turn back to abusing just to keep these overwhelming symptoms at bay.
But addiction isn't just about physical dependence. In fact, someone doesn't have to be physically dependent on a substance at all to be addicted to it. Instead, addiction is about the behaviors behind your drug use.
The official definition of addiction is "a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain—they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs."
In the end, a cocaine addiction develops because of continued abuse. And eventually, that can cause the brain to physically change and make the compulsions to use coke impossible to ignore.
To put it mildly, very.
According to famous addiction researcher David Nutt from London's Imperial College, cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs in circulation today, second only to the notorious heroin.
But what makes coke so much more overpowering than other drugs?
There are a couple of factors at play here.
Eventually, most coke addicts will give in and start the cycle of addiction all over again.
Cocaine is without a doubt one of the most dangerous drugs on the street today.
Not only are there a host of short- and long-term side effects of cocaine abuse, the fact that it's often mixed with other drugs, the impurity of street coke, and the method of abuse all add up to one deadly dependency.
In the short-term cocaine abuse can cause a number of both wanted and unwanted side effects - some of which may end up being quite uncomfortable.
According to NIDA, these side effects include:
MedlinePlus also lists a number of other symptoms of cocaine intoxication as well including:
The long-term side effects of cocaine abuse are just as extensive too.
According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), these side effects may include:
Added to that, NIDA points out that there are a number of other possible long-term effects of abusing cocaine including:
One of the most dangerous aspects of cocaine abuse is the fact that many times, addicts will end up mixing it with other drugs at the same time.
Maybe they use other stimulants like methamphetamine or Adderall to intensify the effects of cocaine.
Or perhaps they use downers like benzodiazepines or alcohol to even out their high.
When it comes to stacking on multiple stimulants, the effects of each can end up compounding, making a slight risk of a heart attack with just coke multiple times higher with an added stimulant.
Using depressants at the same time can end up being just as dangerous too. For example, when you mix alcohol with coke, it can create a unique chemical known as cocaethylene.
Cocaethylene can intensify the high experienced, but it's also quite toxic. In fact, studies have shown that it may be as much as 30% more toxic than cocaine by itself. And that can add up to liver damage, a higher risk of stroke, and an increase in cardiovascular events.
While abusing coke in any form is never a good idea, mixing it with other drugs to enhance its high can end up being a fatal mistake.
It isn't just the pure toxicity of cocaine that makes it so dangerous - it's also the chemicals it's been cut with.
In the world of drug trafficking, dealers and pushers will often add certain compounds and fillers to their drugs to increase the amount of product they have on hand and to add to its intensity.
The DEA found that the average purity of one gram of cocaine in 2015 to be around 49.1%. And that means that nearly half of all cocaine in the country is made up of these extra substances.
Unfortunately, these additions can end up being quite dangerous on their own.
The BBC did a report on the numerous fillers, additives, and intensifiers that are found in cocaine. In addition to numerous sugars and household cooking ingredients like baking soda, some of the most startling substances included:
While there are many dangerous side effects of cocaine abuse, one of the deadliest is the risk of overdosing.
Not only is this experience especially terrifying, but it can also actually end up being deadly as well.
According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, cocaine was responsible for 10,619 overdoses in 2016 alone. And when coke is combined with other drugs, the combination can be even deadlier.
That's why it's so important for you to be able to identify the signs of a cocaine overdose. The sooner you know there's a problem, the sooner you can get the professional help needed to save your or someone else's life.
It actually isn't uncommon for people to be addicted to cocaine, but not realize it. That's because the drug has a way of convincing you that you're in control. This, of course, is not true at all.
Maybe that's how you feel too. You've been using cocaine for quite some time, but you really don't think you have what would be called an addiction. It might be helpful for you to take a cocaine addiction quiz. This will allow you to get some insight on your own cocaine use, and even find out what kind of cocaine treatment might be right for you.
If you can identify with any of the above, you most likely have a cocaine addiction. If that is the case, going to rehab for cocaine addiction in Washington will help you recover.
In addition to the online addiction quiz above, there are a couple of other ways you can see just how addicted to coke you really are.
The DSM-5 - The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM-5, is a collection of guidelines used by practicing physicians to diagnose mental disorders in their patients.
If you want to see how your behaviors match up to the clinical cocaine addiction symptoms used by doctors around the world, have a look at these guidelines.
NIDA's Self-Assessment Tools - With numerous options to choose from with varying levels of complexity, NIDA's screening tools provide both short-and-sweet tests and in-depth analyses.
What's more, all of their self-assessment tools are evidence-based, so you can be sure that you're using only the best the industry has to offer.
Free Addiction Assessment - And finally, you can reach out to an addiction treatment center directly for a personalized expert opinion on your individual situation.
These phone assessments usually only take about 20 to 30 minutes and are 100% obligation free. Beyond that, you'll also learn about what kinds of treatment options are going to be the most effective in treating your unique addiction.
Learning how to spot cocaine addiction symptoms in others is an essential first step to getting them the help that they so desperately need. But how do you know what to look for?
While this disease manifests in everyone a little bit differently, there are a few cocaine addiction symptoms that you should be on the lookout for.
In general, most coke abusers won't go through many physical symptoms during cocaine withdrawal. However, the psychological ones can be brutal at times.
Below are just a few user experiences from past coke abusers via online forums to help give you an idea of what to expect.
Yeah, no matter how strung out I've been on heroin, I've never had the kind of brutal cravings, literally making me s*** myself and sweat, like I do thinking about IV cocaine.
The mental aspect to drugs like coke, crack, meth, is so damn intense.
Mr.Scangattie via BlueLight
After my first run of IV coke - about two weeks - my physical dependence showed dramatically. Signs of dependence: sleeping 20 hours /day for two weeks, adhodenia terrible, dysphoric, dreaming about using ("drug dreams") most people with serious addictions to coke / meth / heroin experience these dreams if they fairly suddenly stop all use - like going onto maintenance, or abstinace.
speedballs_over via BlueLight
Coke cravings tend to appear all of the sudden, they are very intense and last for quiet short time. The thing is that very often they are so intense that a person starts thinking only about scoring.
Once they thought of getting high gets in your head, it's extremely hard to find a reason not to score.
sinnerek21 via Drugs-Forum
The majority of uncomfortable cocaine withdrawal symptoms are psychological rather than physical. And while that may mean that you won't have to deal with, say, extreme nausea, sweating, and diarrhea like that with heroin withdrawal, that doesn't mean it's any easier to get through.
In fact, the psychological withdrawals of cocaine can be harder to bear than the physical ones of some other drugs.
According to Mental Health Daily, some of the most common symptoms you'll experience during this time may include:
As with other stimulants, getting through cocaine withdrawals can be a particularly lengthy process.
According to SAMHSA, the process can actually end up taking 1 to 2 weeks when all is said and done.
But as MedlinePlus notes, the intense cravings for cocaine can actually end up continuing for months after your last use. And this especially long timeline for recovery can make it incredibly hard to maintain sobriety in the long-term.
Added to that, some cocaine abusers may experience what's known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, also known as PAWS. This condition is characterized by experiencing symptoms of withdrawal for weeks, months, and even years after you've last used.
Some of the possible symptoms you may experience during PAWS could include:
With proper help from a professional cocaine treatment facility, these symptoms may be manageable. But if you're going through PAWS on your own, it can be hard not to turn back to drugs during this time.
Stopping the use of cocaine on your own is never recommended because of the painful withdrawal symptoms that can result from doing so. However, people still attempt to stop using on their own all the time.
The best way for you to get help for your cocaine addiction is to go to seek out professional assistance. Programs for detoxification and rehabilitation can not only make getting through the excruciating withdrawals much easier, but they can also drastically reduce your risk of relapsing further down the line.
But what are these programs really like and how can they help you kick your addiction to cocaine to the curb?
Partnering with a professional facility to help during your cocaine detox can end up being one of the best choices you can make during your recovery. The expertise, guidance, and medical attention you'll receive during these programs can make getting through the overwhelming coke withdrawals significantly easier.
In general, there are two types of detox programs for you to choose from: medicated and holistic.
Medicated Detoxification - A medicated program will mostly focus on treating your withdrawals with prescription medications such as benzodiazepines.
And while this might sound like the easiest kind of treatment, the truth is that these medications can often be quite addictive on their own. As a result, you may enter treatment with a cocaine addiction and leave with benzo addiction.
Holistic Detox - Alternatively, you may want to use a holistic detox program instead. These types of facilities use nutrition, exercise, and other activities like yoga and meditation to help your body get through the worst of the withdrawals.
This is without a doubt the cleanest way of detoxing as it supports the body's natural ability to cleanse itself and heal the wounds that addiction has left behind.
When you make the decision to go to a high-quality facility for cocaine treatment, you'll discover that the staff is professional, knowledgeable, and incredibly helpful. But most of all, they're focused on providing you with everything you need for a successful recovery.
There are a number of different types of treatment that you will receive, and these might include:
Cocaine is an incredibly addictive drug that has the power to take over your life more quickly than you can imagine. And you may not realize it, but it is possible to become addicted to cocaine after the very first time you use it.
Once you actually become addicted, your cravings for this drug can lead you to give up on everything you hold dear. It becomes more important to you than your family, it causes you to not fulfill your responsibilities, and it may even be to blame for you losing your job.
Still, now that you know you have an addiction that needs to be treated, partnering with a professional coke addiction facility is the absolute best way to get you sober for good.
Plus, not only is our staff knowledgeable, nationally accredited, and incredibly supportive, we also have one of the best staff-to-patient ratios in the area. And that means more personalized care, better treatment, and an all-around greater chance at recovery.
If you're suffering from a coke addiction, you don't have to live like a slave to your dependency problem. Sobriety is possible - and we can help.