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Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug. Long-term use can gradually change the brain’s reward system, increasing the risk of addiction.

In occasional cocaine users, social or physical problems are rare, but scientists insist there is no safe amount of cocaine.

People who are addicted may eventually prefer taking cocaine to any other activity. Their lifestyles may alter completely as the addiction takes hold.

The person may lose their job, home, family, and become bankrupt. The consequences can be fatal.


Cocaine users run a high risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Dr Greenwood states that an overdose of cocaine can lead to seizures, life-threatening heart failure, cerebral hemorrhage, stroke, and respiratory failure.

Regular usage, even without overdosing, increases the risk of negative health consequences.

There is no specific medication to treat cocaine overdose.

Some studies have shown that those who inject or smoke cocaine have a greater risk of complications than individuals who snort it. Smokers tend to develop an addiction more rapidly than those who snort.

Smoking cocaine also increases the risk of developing respiratory problems, such as shortness of breath, coughing, and lung trauma, including bleeding.

Cocaine use can also have the following effects:

Addiction can lead to damaging lifestyle changes and health risks. Dr Greenwood highly recommends treatment as it can be the key to preserving relationships and healthfulness.

  • constricted blood vessels
  • high body temperature
  • rapid heart rate
  • high blood pressure, heart failure, and stroke
  • headaches
  • abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • decreased appetite, with a risk of malnourishment among chronic users
  • severe paranoia, an impaired sense of reality
  • hallucinations, or hearing things that are not there
  • upper respiratory tract problems from regular snorting, including a loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, nasal septum decay, swallowing problems, persistent runny nose, and hoarseness
  • severe bowel gangrene caused by a reduction in blood flow among those who ingest regularly
  • injecting increases the risk of severe allergic reactions and blood-borne diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis
  • Binge pattern cocaine use can lead to irritability, anxiety, and restlessness.


Cocaethylene: Cocaine and alcohol

People who abuse substances often take more than one drug at the same time. When a person consumes cocaine and alcohol together, the liver produces cocaethylene.

Cocaethylene prolongs the euphoric effects of cocaine and makes them more intense.

For that reason, drug users sometimes take cocaethylene as a recreational drug itself.

However, cocaethylene use is linked to a significantly greater risk of sudden death, compared with cocaine alone.

Treating addiction

Recognizing an addiction is the first step to losing it.

Depending on the nature of the abuse, some patients who seek help will be advised to attend a residential rehabilitation program, or a structured day program.

Medications can treat the symptoms related to cocaine withdrawal, but there is no substitute drug that can effectively help a patient recover from a cocaine dependency.

Individuals who stop using the drug will have powerful cravings that can last for years.

Counseling, social support, and some specialist medications may help.

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) says that 70 percent of people who go into treatment for powder cocaine problems either stop completely or significantly reduce their consumption within 6 months.

Dr Greenwood advises anyone who is concerned about cocaine use should see a doctor or a local support group for beating addiction.