Is cocaine addictive?

Yes, cocaine is addictive. What makes cocaine so effective? We explore here.

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Yes. Cocaine is addictive.

How does cocaine work in the body?  The euphoria (the intense sense of well-being or high) and the increased energy cocaine produces are effects that people seek over and over again. In fact, cocaine addiction potential is so high that cocaine use is totally illegal in the U.S. Here we review what the drug is made of and how cocaine becomes addictive. We also invite your questions about the addictive potential of cocaine at the end.

What is cocaine used for?

Cocaine was once used and prescribed to treat pain and anxiety. It eventually became illegal. Now, cocaine is used recreationally and for the sole purpose of altering ones chemistry and creating a high. People abuse cocaine because of the added energy and mental clarity or the happy feeling it creates in the central nervous system. This iw why snorted cocaine is still popular and widely used.

What is cocaine made of?

Cocaine is considered a benzoylmethylecgonine type of drug and is a stimulant. As a class of drugs, stimulants increase mental alertness.  More specifically, however, cocaine is made from the leaf of the coca plant which is turned into a white power. Sometimes this powder is cut with other substances such as backing soda or other harmful chemicals that add to the potential dangerous risk that already comes with cocaine. Free base cocaine is another form of the drug known as crack. It is a cheaper drug with a higher chemical potency.

How addictive is cocaine?

Cocaine is extremely addictive. Like caffeine, cocaine helps to stave off sleep, appetite and disrupts normal sleep patterns. As a party drug, cocaine has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Why?

Cocaine interferes with the absorption of dopamine in the system. It effects the distribution of serotonin levels and while you are high, cocaine creates a seductive mental clarity. Cocaine comes in a powdered form and is usually snorted. This allows for a quick high to happen as snorting cocaine allows the drug to travel to the brain quickly. This quick action times adds to the addiction potential of cocaine. Plus, cocaine use can alter brain chemistry making hard to live without cocaine.

How do you get addicted to cocaine?

You can get addicted to cocaine after a few casual uses because cocaine system duration is usually under one hour, compelling continued use. In fact, taking cocaine only a few times has the potential to get you addicted. But in general, the more you take cocaine, the more the serotonin is disrupted in the central nervous system and the more you feel you need the drug. This cycle of need and abuse quickly leads to addiction. When stress or negative situations occur in life and you need cocaine to cope, you can be sure that you have a cocaine problem.

Cocaine dependence vs. addiction

Cocaine dependence is not necessarily the same as cocaine addiction. When you are physically dependent on cocaine, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms when you lower dosage or stop taking cocaine. When you are addicted to cocaine, you manifest psychological symptoms of craving when you are not high. But because cocaine is both psychologically and physically addictive, physical and psychological symptoms are often difficult to differentiate.

Signs of cocaine addiction

Cocaine dependence and addiction both manifest characteristics of tolerance and withdrawal. However, cocaine addiction involves intense cravings for the drug and the feeling that you can’t go without it. This intense psychological need for cocaine is the main characteristic of cocaine addiction. In other words, you may be addicted to cocaine if you need to take it to deal with the normal stresses of everyday life. Other signs of cocaine addiction include:

  1. Drug seeking behavior
  2. Giving up family and friend in order to get high
  3. Chasing after the same high
  4. Mixing cocaine with other substances
  5. Negative consequences showing up in finances, family, and social life

Cocaine addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about the addiction potential of Cocaine? Please leave your questions, comments or feedback here. We are happy to help answer your questions or provide you with support. And if we do not know the answer to your particular cocaine question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: NIDA for Teens Mind Over Matter Cocaine
NCBI: Neurobiology of Cocaine Addiction
ADP: Substance abuse
NIDA: Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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