Cocaine is one of the most widely used and abused substances in the united States today, particularly amongst young persons. Research compiled by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) concluded that the drug is ingested by more individuals ages 18 to 25 than any other illicit substance. Moreover, a 2011 study performed by members of the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) discovered that cocaine overdoses were responsible for more than half of all drug-related emergency room visits.

Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?

The ingestion of cocaine precipitates an increased production of a brain-based chemical called dopamine. Dopamine contributes to the brain’s creation of positive feelings such as pleasure and euphoria and cocaine users often report experiencing intense bursts of joy and strength immediately following administration of the substance.

That said, repeated ingestion of cocaine causes an excessive buildup of dopamine. This occurrence alters brain chemistry, as well as the organ’s ability to properly metabolize dopamine. Eventually, the brain cells (neurons) responsible for creating pleasurable emotions such as joy and excitement can only function through the ingestion of greater quantities of cocaine thus producing addiction.

The Signs A Cocaine Addict Might Display

There are several red flag physical manifestations and behaviors someone using cocaine might display which their friends and family should pay close attention to including:

*Chronic nasal manifestations like sniffling, sneezing and nasal discharge.
*Scratches or other suspicious marks on their arms (if they are administering the drug through the use of needles).
*Being in possession of excessive amounts of cash (which are used to purchase the drug from dealers).
*A dramatic change in sleep patters.
*Displaying unexplained anxiety.
*Disappearing for extended durations.
*Paranoia.
*Wild mood swings.

A cocaine user might also exhibit bizarre behaviors such as rolling up paper currency (to facilitate snorting the substance) and having traces of the drug in and around their nasal passages.

The Potential Long-Term Impact Of Cocaine Addiction

The drug has the potential to inflict extensive, if not permanent damage to many major regions of the body including the nervous system, digestive tract, cardiovascular system and respiratory tract. In addition, cocaine use always poses the risk of overdose which could be fatal.

Possible Treatment Options

Treatment plans will vary depending upon critical factors such as the addict’s age, the severity of the addiction and said individual’s general health. If the user has not yet become addicted, treatment protocols like behavioral therapy might prove effective. That said, in cases where the person is question is a full-blown addict, said individual may require aggressive intervention like medical detox followed by an extended period in a rehabilitation facility.