Years ago, cocaine was considered both helpful and benign, and it was placed in all sorts of over-the-counter products, including cough drops and elixirs. Some parents even gave tinctures of the drug to their tiny, crying children when simple soothing didn’t seem to do the trick. Now, parents who gave their children cocaine would likely face jail time, and it’s almost impossible for any user to walk into a pharmacy and bring home a product that contains cocaine. Even so, this powerful drug remains both available and enticing, and when users are introduced to the product, addictions quickly follow.
Cocaine is synthesized from the leaves of the coca plant. Sometimes, producers create a powdered form of the drug that can be inhaled or injected, but sometimes, producers combine the powdered form of cocaine with other chemicals and develop a glass-like product that can be smoked. Users might refer to the powder as “blow” or “snow,” while the glass version might be referred to as “crack” or “Charlie.”
In most cases, the cocaine that users take in is made on the illicit marketplace, as research conducted for the Journal of Substance Abuse suggests that there are few medicinal uses for the drug. In fact, it seems as though the drug is only accessible to surgeons who hope to treat people with intractable ear, nose and throat problems. Even then, the drug might be used only one time, to control both bleeding and pain, and patients might never be given their own supply to take home.
Street Terms for Cocaine
Cocaine’s long and storied history has led it to accumulate a wide variety of nicknames, particularly when purchased on the street.
Common terms for cocaine include “coke,” “blow,” “candy,” and “snow,” inspired by the drug’s white, powdery appearance. Other names for powdered cocaine include “dream,” “dust,” “yao,” and “zip.” According to the National Institute on Chemical Dependency (NICD), street slang terms for crack – cocaine’s solid form – include variants such as “rock,” “ice cube,” “bad,” “ball” and “black rock.”
Medical practitioners are so careful with cocaine, in part, because it is so very addictive. That addictiveness comes about due to the speed at which the drug takes hold within the human brain. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests that injecting or smoking the drug can deliver the substance to the brain almost immediately, and the high can last for 5 to 10 minutes. Snorting the drug means a slower rate of delivery, but the high can last for 15 to 30 minutes, NIDA says. Learn More: Dangers of How Cocaine is Administered
Drugs that take hold quickly and dissipate with equal speed are generally considered addictive because the brain is pushed from one extreme to the other. At one moment, the brain is normal. In the next, the brain is awash with chemicals. Then, just mere moments later, the drugs are gone and normalcy returns.
Users of cocaine may be bereft without the drug, even after just one hit, and they may chase that high by taking dose after dose in rapid succession, doing an intense amount of damage with each and every hit.
There are no facts and figures that can definitively predict how many doses a user might need to take in order to develop an addiction, as that can vary from person to person depending on personal chemistry and other factors. But it’s safe to say that dosing up on a large amount of cocaine could be so toxic to the brain that compulsive use and addiction quickly follows.
Spotting the Signs
People who are addicted might not want to discuss their concerns openly, but their behavior may change in such a dramatic way that the family is sure to know that something is amiss. In a study of the issue in the Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers found that paranoia took hold in up to 84 percent of people who used cocaine. Others engaged in violent acts, including homicide and suicide attempts. A placid person who turns suddenly violent is sure to be alarming, and that might be the only sign a family needs that something horrible is going on.
Cocaine users also tend to use tools in order to take their drugs, including:
- Glass tubes
- Razor blades
Effects on Your Health
- Sexual performance issues and erectile dysfunction
- Chronic bronchitis and emphysema from repeated cocaine freebasing
- Elevated risk of heart disease, stroke and cardiac arrest
- Bleeding in the brain (brain hemorrhage
- Bowel and intestinal gangrene
- Digestive issues such as loose stools, diarrhea and constipation
- Liver disease and organ damage
- Seizures and tremors
- Central Nervous System Issues
- Circulatory System Issues
Any of these tools, when found in close proximity to a suspicious powder, could merit a discussion about the possibility of a cocaine addiction.
When a cocaine addiction is in play, all other priorities seem to fade in importance. A person who is addicted might not see the need to interact with the family, go to work, raise children or otherwise interact with anyone at all. Only the drug matters, and all else can be ignored. Similarly, all of the person’s money might go toward feeding the addiction, which might mean that families have no food, no shelter and no future, since all of their money is being used to pay for drugs. Sometimes, the financial devastation doesn’t even become clear until the addiction has been in progress for a long period of time, and then, financial recovery might be difficult.
If you see an addiction blossoming in someone you love, the time to take action is now, and we’d like to help. At Axis, we provide a supervised detox process that can allow the person you love to transition to sobriety in a safe and controlled manner, and then we can provide a series of therapies that can soothe pain and provide insights and skills that can make maintaining that sobriety much more likely. We can even provide intensive follow-up care, including readmission, if a relapse takes place. Please call us to find out more about these options and to get help for the person you love. We’re ready to answer your call.