Cocaine is the second most commonly used illicit drug (following marijuana) in the United States. —From the National Survey on Drug Use & Health

Over 15,000 deaths annually are associated with stimulants in the United States. —From APA

Cocaine can kill you the first time you use it. —From NIDA InfoFacts: Crack and Cocaine, 2008


Cocaine Addiction and Long Term Treatment

Regularly snorting cocaine can lead to loss of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and a chronically runny nose. —From NIDA InfoFacts: Crack and Cocaine, 2008

The addiction to cocaine and crack cocaine can develop quickly, but cocaine treatment and rehabilitation is a long-term process. Our specialists understand that factors such as encountering old acquaintances, entry into a familiar environment, such as smells, objects, and memories can create psychological stress in former cocaine users. Our long term cocaine rehab staff furnishes the recovering addict with the tools and skills needed to combat these feelings and to prevent relapse in the real world.

Cocaine Facts

*This article is reprinted with permission from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Cocaine Overview

Pure cocaine was first used in the 1880s as a local anesthetic in eye, nose, and throat surgeries because of its ability to provide anesthesia as well as to constrict blood vessels and limit bleeding. Many of its therapeutic applications are now obsolete though due to the development of safer drugs.

Cocaine is the most potent stimulant of natural origin. This substance can be snorted, smoked, or injected. When snorted, cocaine powder is inhaled through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. When injected, the user uses a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream. Smoking involves inhaling cocaine vapor or smoke into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream is as rapid as by injection. Each of these methods of administration pose great risks to the user.

Crack is cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking. Crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water. It is then heated to remove the hydrochloride producing a form of cocaine that can be smoked.

Health Effects of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant. Physical effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Users may also experience feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety.

Evidence suggests that users who smoke or inject cocaine may be at even greater risk of causing harm to themselves than those who snort the substance. For example, cocaine smokers also suffer from acute respiratory problems including coughing, shortness of breath, and severe chest pains with lung trauma and bleeding. A user who injects cocaine is at risk of transmitting or acquiring diseases if needles or other injection equipment are shared.

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug and compulsive cocaine use seems to develop more rapidly when the substance is smoked rather than snorted. A tolerance to the cocaine high may be developed and many addicts report that they fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first cocaine exposure.

Smoking crack delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection. These effects are felt almost immediately after smoking, are very intense, but do not last long. For example, the high from smoking cocaine may last from 5 to 10 minutes. The high from snorting can last for 15 to 20 minutes.

Cocaine continues to be the most frequently mentioned illicit substance reported to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) by hospital emergency departments (ED) nationwide. During 2002, it was mentioned 199,198 times and was present in 30% of the ED drug episodes during the year. While cocaine ED mentions were statistically unchanged from 2001 to 2002, they have increased 47% since 1995 when there were 135,711 mentions.

Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest. An added danger of cocaine use is when cocaine and alcohol are consumed at the same time. When these substances are mixed, the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol and manufactures a third substance, cocaethylene. This intensifies cocaine’s euphoric effects, while also possibly increasing the risk of sudden death.

Usage and Effect of Cocaine

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant (Erythroxylon coca) that is indigenous to South America.  Noted for its euphoric-inducing properties, Cocaine is a stimulant that is sniffed, snorted, inhaled, smoked, injected, or chewed when in leaf form.  Charlie, White Horse, White Lady, Snow, and Chalk are but a few of the street names attributed to Cocaine.

Addictive Properties and Effects of Cocaine Usage

Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, leaving the user craving the drug instead of food or liquid intake.  Cocaine disrupts the normal physiological process in which pleasure is experienced (e.g., through food, drink, or sexual activity) by interfering with the proteins that would otherwise transport dopamine, thus allowing dopamine to build up in synoptic responses that create the drug-induced sensation of euphoria.

Cocaine addicts often experience severe weight loss due to lack of appetite and adequate nutrition, nausea, manic episodes, cardiovascular irregularities, psychotic behavioral episodes, and collapse of the nasal septum among those that reportedly snort Cocaine with long-term use.  Neglect of bodily hygiene and what appears as constant flu-like symptoms are often associated with Cocaine abuse.

Cocaine Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms

Unlike alcohol and many other drugs, the physical withdrawal symptoms from Cocaine are often not experienced.  Most experts agree that withdrawal symptoms from Cocaine are of a far more mental as opposed to physical nature.

The first sign of Cocaine withdrawal is a heavy drained feeling or emptiness as all euphoric effects experienced while under the influence have left the brain.  Although the user may experience a headache or some other mild discomfort, the second sign of Cocaine withdrawal is the intense craving for more.

Other withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, irritability, and listlessness or apathy in the absence of a drug-induced euphoria.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms require professional care in a rehab treatment center because they are beyond the scope of what any non-addiction clinician or individual can successfully manage without endangering the life of the addict.

Burning Tree Reclaims Lives from Cocaine

Our unique approach to recovery is dedicated to caring for you as a whole human being, not just a disease.  We know from proven experience that time is what makes Burning Tree one of the top rehab centers in the country.  Long-term solutions require long-term treatment.  At Burning Tree, we don’t stop until every issue standing in the way of your recovery is successfully resolved.  Our staff of highly trained addiction specialists, clinicians, and therapists will monitor you safely, thoroughly, and bring you back to a new chapter in your addiction free life.  Roll the burden of your pain on to us and we will teach you how to develop new life patterns of joy, freedom, and success.  Call us today.