Cocaine is a very addictive and deadly street drug. It is in the class of drugs called stimulants. Stimulants have the effect of speeding up the nervous system and making it more sensitive to stimulation.
Cocaine is also known as:
- Big C/Vitamin C
Addiction to cocaine starts as any other addiction. It becomes easy to use, and exciting at first, but then you need to use more and more just to get the same high.
Cocaine increases the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, causing euphoria or the high, and increased energy, almost agitation. But this is eventually what happens:
“This flood of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit strongly reinforces drug-taking behaviors, because the reward circuit eventually adapts to the excess of dopamine caused by cocaine, and becomes less sensitive to it. As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses in an attempt to feel the same high, and to obtain relief from withdrawal.”
Eventually you will end up using cocaine just to fight off withdrawals, not even getting the high anymore.
Symptoms of substance use disorder or cocaine addiction are grouped into four categories:
- Impaired control: a cravings or urges to use, inability to stop even if the person desires to do so
- Social problems: cocaine use has led to problems at home, work, or in social life, for example, calling into work because of being high or leaving family functions to get high
- Risky use: cocaine becomes dangerous to use, due to legal, social, or health risks, but the person still uses anyways
- Drug effects: the person develops a tolerance to cocaine and needs more and more to get the same type of experience as when they first used.
If you are experiencing any of these warning signs, you could be developing an addiction to cocaine. But help is available.
This article is part of our series on substance abuse.