Cocaine is a stimulant, and it is also highly addictive. People in South America discovered the powers of cocaine thousands of years ago when they began to chew the Erythroxylum coca leaves to become stimulated.
Approximately 100 years ago, people began to remove the cocaine hydrochloride from the plant and started to put it into products. Many “medicines” and tonics that supposedly cured illnesses had purified cocaine as one of their ingredients. It was even one of the main ingredients in Coca-Cola. The medical community also used cocaine to anesthetize patients before surgery.
How Cocaine Affects Health
The use of cocaine causes several unhealthy things to happen. When your loved one ingests cocaine, their heart may begin to race, blood pressure may increase, and body temperature may rise. They may also experience unpleasant physical symptoms, like headaches, nausea, and abdominal pain. Cocaine is also the reason that your loved one isn’t eating as much as they used to and is losing weight. The user may even be malnourished.
Those addicted to cocaine have even experienced a severe form of paranoia that is temporary but leads to a heightened state of agitation and often aggression called “paranoid psychosis.” This group completely loses touch with reality and also starts to experience auditory hallucinations.
It doesn’t matter how someone ingests cocaine or how much. They are in danger of experiencing a stroke or a heart attack that could end in death.
If you or a loved one is having problems with cocaine, we can help you at Granite Recovery Centers. Our treatment program will make it possible for you or your loved one to live drug-free.
The Drug Enforcement Administration of the U.S. government has classified cocaine as a Schedule II drug, which are substances that are shown to have a high instance of human physical dependency. The addiction that Schedule II drugs can cause is very powerful and dangerous.
The Cocaine on the Street
Cocaine is dangerous in its pure form, but drug dealers typically create and sell a concoction that is even more perilous to human health. They mix cocaine with fillers, and you never know which filler has been added to your cocaine when you purchase it. These fillers may be baking soda, flour, talcum powder, or cornstarch, among others. Dealers also add fentanyl to cocaine, and this makes the mixture extremely dangerous.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, and it is very powerful. Its composition is like that of morphine, but it is 50 to 100 times more potent. You can get fentanyl with a prescription, but it is also created in drug dealers’ labs illegally.
Why Is Smoking Cocaine Dangerous?
People prefer to smoke cocaine because they will receive an immediate high when they do. It will be a more intense high than the high that they can achieve by snorting it.
When people purchase the powder, they must make it amenable to being smoked. They can do this by freebasing or smoking crack cocaine.
In order to freebase, the user must extract the drug during a long and dangerous process. The product that is left behind will be a purified form of cocaine, and it will be extremely potent. To smoke crack cocaine, people don’t have to purify it, so it will still contain all of the fillers and extra drugs that were used in its creation. On average, crack cocaine only has approximately 40% of pure cocaine left. Smoking crack cocaine is so popular because crack is less expensive than cocaine due to its low purity level.
No matter which form of cocaine is being used, you can feel an intense sense of euphoria in about 10 to 15 seconds, but this intense pleasure comes with a cost. After smoking crack cocaine, a user may begin to experience the following:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Tachycardia, or rapid heartbeat
Someone who has smoked cocaine for a long period of time may experience the following extremely dangerous side effects immediately after using:
- Thermal airway injury, or burns in lungs or airway passages
- Pulmonary hemorrhage
- Pneumothorax, or collapsed lung
- Pulmonary edema
- Exacerbation of asthma
- Hemoptysis, or coughing up blood from the lungs
Smoking cocaine also causes long-term consequences that people experience even when they aren’t using. For example, some people develop a chronic cough that is accompanied by intense pain in the chest. They may also have blackened sputum, scarring of the lungs, and a reduced lung capacity. These issues can make it hard for these people to breathe.
Why Is Snorting Cocaine Dangerous?
Snorting cocaine can cause damage to your nose, mouth, and throat that may be irreversible. The act of snorting cocaine causes the tissue in your nose and bones to degenerate. It may even cause damage to the midsection of your nose, or the nasal septum. Snorting cocaine can also create perforations in the roof of your mouth along with these other long-term consequences:
- Ulcers, lesions, and sores in the throat and nose
- Difficulties with swallowing
- Chronic post-nasal drip
- Nose bleeds
- The loss of the sense of smell
Why Is Injecting Cocaine Dangerous?
People also like to inject cocaine intravenously for the instantaneous high that they can achieve. Users must mix the powder with water so that it can be injected with a syringe.
Injecting cocaine is a particularly dangerous way of administering the drug. This method increases the transmission of blood-borne diseases because people who inject drugs tend to share their needles. Cocaine users may also engage in promiscuous behaviors as a way of obtaining their supply of drugs. Both of these actions increase the possibility of contracting hepatitis C and HIV.
Hepatitis C is an infection and inflammation of the liver that can lead to liver damage. Many people do not have any symptoms of this condition, so it can exist for several years without their knowledge. It is another potentially dangerous condition because it can lead to other serious illnesses, including liver scarring that occurs after decades have passed with the condition. When this occurs, it can lead to liver failure. Some intravenous drug users even contract liver cancer.
HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus, attacks the body’s immune system. It specifically targets the cells that fight infections. The virus doesn’t currently have a cure, but if the carrier does not receive medical treatment for the disease, it will lead to the condition known as AIDS.
After the body has been badly damaged by the HIV infection, it can develop into AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. If the infected person does not receive treatment at this point, they may only live for another three years. In the event that the condition allows another infection to take hold, the infected person can expect to live one year or less without treatment. It is possible to treat an HIV infection and AIDS and for those afflicted to lead full, happy, healthy lives with treatment, but these conditions cannot be cured at this time.
Researchers learned that cocaine use accelerates the progression of an HIV infection because it impairs the functioning of the immune system’s cells, and it also facilitates the replication of the HIV virus. It increases the damage that the virus does to the cells in the brain and the spinal cord as well.
Co-Infection of HIV and Hepatitis C
When a cocaine user has HIV, they have an increased risk of also contracting hepatitis C. With both conditions, you are at risk of contracting liver cancer or chronic liver disease.
When a person uses cocaine while having hepatitis C and HIV, it can accelerate the progression of both infections. This means that it speeds up the course of liver disease. Infection with HIV and hepatitis C causes more fatalities than either of these two conditions alone. The fact that a user has both conditions increases the progression of HIV because the immune system has a much harder time fighting the infection.
Cocaine use also increases the user’s chances of contracting the neurological condition known as “neuroAIDS.” HIV infection causes damage to the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system and causes neurological disorders. When someone has neuroAIDS, they experience vision impairment, difficulties with movement, sensory neuropathy, vacuolar myelopathy, and AIDS dementia.
In addition to the serious conditions described above, injecting cocaine can lead to the collapse of your veins and scarring. It can also cause skin infections that can be mild but could lead to a life-threatening skin infection called “necrotizing fasciitis,” which is a fast-moving bacterial infection that is frequently lethal.
Necrotizing fasciitis can lead to the body’s extreme response to an infection called “sepsis,” which is a medical emergency. If you fail to obtain treatment in a timely manner, sepsis can lead to damage to the tissue and organ failure. Sometimes, people die of sepsis. The condition can also cause you to go into shock.
Granite Recovery Centers
Cocaine is a very dangerous drug, and it leads to very serious medical issues the longer that people ingest it. With your loved one at risk for so many life-threatening conditions, it isn’t surprising that you want to help them overcome their cocaine addiction. At Granite Recovery Centers, we can offer your loved one the help that they need.
We have several options for your loved one. The best one may be an inpatient treatment program where they will live at the treatment center. This is a good choice for those experiencing a long-term drug or alcohol addiction. If your loved one is apprehensive about living away from their family and friends, we also have an outpatient treatment program. This option is for your loved one if they have family and friends offering an immense amount of support.
Your loved one may need to enter into the detox program before they can begin treatment. In the detox program, our medical personnel will administer medications to your loved one that will relieve the withdrawal symptoms that make abstaining from drug use so intolerable. This gives them the best chance of tackling their addiction. We have a medical detox program that will make it much easier for your loved one to tolerate the withdrawal process and make it more likely that they will complete the program.
After your loved one has completed treatment, they may want to consider one of our sober living options. Living with people who are equally committed to recovery provides an excellent chance for long-term sobriety and a life free from drugs and alcohol.
If your loved one is ready to embark upon a new life, contact us today. We have all of the resources necessary to bring them back to health and happiness again.