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How Addictive is Cocaine?

Cocaine Addiction

This post comes to us from Changing Tides Treatment, a facility offering detox and residential treatment for addiction in Ventura, CA. Visit to get help with addiction today.

The quick and fast answer is that cocaine is extremely addictive, more so when used in crack (rock) form and injections than powder, though all have immediate effects on the user.

How did addiction from cocaine start?

Let’s look at its origins. Chewing coca leaves to relieve pain and stimulate energy has been chronicled since approximately 3,000 years BCE. Several indigenous cultures where the plant has flourished (South American for example) have also used the plant for spiritual ceremonies. The medicinal properties of the extraction of the plant were brought into the limelight by a German chemist in the mid 1800’s and subsequently brought into fashion by none other than the father of modern psychology, Sigmund Freud. In 1884 Freud argued that cocaine was a cure for sexual impotence and published an article based on the positive properties of the drug.

Freud himself spoke about his the benefits and increased use and because of his lack of objectivity and fact finding, he prescribed toxic doses whereupon one of his patients overdosed and died. So how addictive was cocaine then?

A new soft drink in 1886 was developed and included the ingredient of coca leaves which were at that time unregulated. Guess what happened to the Coca-Cola company profits? Well, they immediately skyrocketed and the drink became addictive to consumers with such negative side effects that the ingredient was removed by 1903. Seventeen years after the removal of the addictive substance from Coca-Cola, in 1920 cocaine was added to a list of outlawed drugs in the Dangerous Drug Act of 1920. Even so, in early Hollywood, silent film companies and some of their stars were promoting the positive effects of cocaine, which subsequently influenced the masses, and an epidemic of cocaine use launched to where we have it today: a 2015 report concluded that cocaine (in powdered form) was the highest drug trafficked in the US.

Cocaine Help

Why is cocaine so addictive?

Well, because it changes your brain chemistry, almost immediately! When the substance enters your system, it causes an over exertion of dopamine, and the effects are euphoric. The simple definition of dopamine is that it is a chemical compound that passes information (a neurotransmitter) in our brains. Tolerance to the substance develops, causing the user to seek more and more, to get the dopamine receptors to heightened state.

There are several studies put out on the most addictive drugs in the world, and across the board cocaine ranks in the top 5 in all of them, and in addition is higher in ranking as the most dangerous.

What does it feel like to be addicted to cocaine?

The “highs” can be euphoria, self-confidence, high energy, increased sex drive, feeling good,

Negative side effects can include: depression, intense cravings, anger, violence, anxiety, increased heart rate, paranoia, psychosis, convulsions, poor nutrition, lack of sleep (for days) muscle spasms, heart attack, bizarre behavior, hallucinations, stroke and breathing failure.

Findings on the addiction of cocaine:

Per the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), “The high from crack cocaine begins almost immediately after the vapors are inhaled and lasts about 5 to 15 minutes. After the initial ‘rush’ subsides, the user experiences an intense desire for more of the drug – this is how users can become addicted after just their first hit.”
The National Institute on Drug abuse states, “As with other drugs, repeated use of cocaine (powder or crack) can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction. The reward circuit eventually adapts to the excess dopamine brought on by the drug. As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses to achieve the same high and feel relief from initial withdrawal.” NIDA states that from 2002-2015, there were at an average, 6,000 deaths per year (reported) per cocaine overdose as the single cause. (This excludes death by other means after using cocaine.)

Now that you know cocaine is highly addictive and dangerous, if you or a loved one think that cocaine addiction is present, you should take immediate action. The good news is that you can get relief. There is treatment for it.

If you want more information about detox and residential treatment from cocaine, please contact Changing Tides Treatment at 844-883-3869.

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