Health

How Does Cocaine Cause Addiction?

Using cocaine, as with other illegal drugs, poses serious dangers and consequences. Addiction to cocaine leads to excessive use and potentially extremely severe health effects on the cocaine addict. The use of cocaine, even just one time, can even lead to death. If you or someone you love is using this drug, you must know the facts about cocaine so that you can help them in any possible way. If the continues to taking cocaine, he or she will end up in an addiction rehabilitation center.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is psychoactive and extremely addictive. It is a fairly simple molecule with the formula C17H21NO4, and it is found naturally in the leaves of the coca plant. It is of the type of chemical compounds called alkaloids, which also includes morphine, codeine, and other medical substances.

Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, suppresses appetite, and also acts as a topical anesthetic. Owing to its chemical properties, this drug is able to move easily from the bloodstream to the brain, crossing what is called the blood-brain barrier. 

Once it reaches the brain, it causes the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter or brain chemical. The release of dopamine causes feelings of pleasure, and it is normally released from neurons when a person experiences something pleasurable. The signal is soon shut off, recycling the dopamine back to the original neuron and stopping the pleasure sensation. Cocaine stops the recycling process causing large releases of dopamine. When cocaine is used repeatedly, it starts damaging this signaling pathway that leads to tolerance to the substance, increased usage, and cocaine addiction

Where Does Cocaine Come From?

Cocaine is a chemical compound that can be extracted from the leaves of the South American coca plant. The native of South America chew coca leaves and use them to treat various illnesses such as altitude sickness, pains, rheumatism, fatigue, indigestion, and asthma. Besides cocaine and other compounds with medicinal properties, coca leaves contain numerous other nutrients. 

The drug cocaine is sold as a white powder that is chemically extracted from large amounts of coca leaves. In this form, it is a salt, i.e., it is combined with hydrochloride, sulfate, or nitrate. Often, it is cut with fillers to increase its weight. Typical fillers include baking soda, sugar, dextrose, and lidocaine. Most of the variety of cocaine that ends up in the United States was produced in Colombia. Around 600 tons of cocaine are consumed throughout the world, with nearly half of that in the United States. 

How is Cocaine Used?

Cocaine can be used in a few different forms and ways. The most common form is powder, which is snorted into the nose. From there, the cocaine is transmitted to the bloodstream via nasal tissues. The consumers may also rub the powder directly onto the mucous membranes in the nose. The most common salt of cocaine is in the form of hydrochloride, which is water-soluble. When it is dissolved in water, the solution can then be injected directly into the bloodstream, which produces a faster high than snorting or applying to the mucous membranes. Snorting leads to a 15-minute to 30-minute high. Injecting cocaine gives a shorter high that may last 5 to 10 minutes. Because of the short high, many cocaine consumers will inhale or inject several times in a row to keep it going, known as binging.

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