Cocaine has made headlines for decades. Superstars and celebrities die from cocaine addiction. So do seemingly average people who think they can use it once in a while, and people on the fringe of society who are addicted to multiple drugs.
The appeal of cocaine is energy and euphoria. If you ask 10 users, you will probably hear the same explanations; cocaine makes a person feel confident and upbeat, it reduces appetite, and it can give the sensation that users are capable of more than they really are.
Unfortunately, addiction sets in and life takes a dangerous turn. Cocaine ruins lives. It is a leading cause of death in Florida, but there is hope and help in Florida addiction treatment. Here are nine things you should know about cocaine and cocaine addiction.
#1: Cocaine Has a Couple of Common Forms
Cocaine is one of the most widely recognizable drugs. Whether or not a person has used it, television shows and movies have brought its appearance into the mainstream.
It is usually a white powder, which is snorted, injected, or ingested in a number of ways. Crack cocaine, which is a “dirty” byproduct of pure cocaine, usually in rock or crystal form, is often smoked. Either form may be cut with another drug that intensifies the high, or with a benign substance, such as sugar, laundry detergent, or talcum powder.
#2: Crack and Pure Cocaine are Highly Addictive Substances
As with many other drugs, cocaine interferes with the brain’s reward centers. It impairs the brain’s ability to produce dopamine, which a natural, feel-good hormone. It varies by person, but addiction happens when the user needs artificial stimulation because the brain cannot produce it on its own.
The desire for more of the drug may happen before full-on addiction sets in. When the desire is there, the user may already be addicted or in serious danger of addiction. Unfortunately, there is no telltale sign that indicates which dose will turn an abuser into an addict.
#3: Addicts Tend to Behave in Excitable, Nervous Ways
Friends and family members may know that a person is addicted before the addict does. Behavioral patterns are easy to spot.
- Weight loss (although this does not happen in every addict)
- Dilated pupils
- Sleep disturbances
- Poor hygiene
Addicts may also have nosebleeds, burn marks on the face, needle marks, a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, financial problems, legal trouble, and diseases that stem from risky behavior.
#4: Withdrawals Are Not Deadly but Can be When Other Drugs are Involved
Addicts do not usually require medical attention to get them through detoxification, but that is not the case if other drugs are present. Cocaine withdrawals are uncomfortable. They may cause suicidal thoughts, paranoia, and violence. Fatigue, hunger, and lethargy are other withdrawal symptoms.
If another drug, such as opioids, is present, medically assisted detox at a Florida addiction treatment center is safer. Addiction treatment specialists are trained to handle complications, some of which can be deadly.
#5: Most Florida Cocaine Addicts Use Two or More Drugs
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), the majority of cocaine users do not stop with cocaine. They are “polydrug users,” meaning they use at least one additional drug. When more than one drug is involved, addiction becomes much more complicated and more difficult to treat.
Medications and intervention methods may change if an addict uses more than one drug. However, the detox stage can be the most critical. While cocaine does not tend to cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, the other drugs in a person’s body might.
#6: Cocaine Causes More Florida Deaths Than Any Other Drug
The newly-released 2016 Annual Report by the Florida Medical Examiner’s Commission shows a startling trend in Florida cocaine-related deaths. In many, cocaine overdose is the direct cause of death. Between 2015 and 2016, the number more than doubled.
- 2015: 1,834 cocaine-related deaths
- 2016: 2,882 cocaine-related deaths—a 57.1 percent increase
Cocaine was the direct cause of death in 1,769 Floridians in 2016. That is more than heroin and hydrocodone combined. The closest deadly drug was fentanyl, which caused 1,390 deaths. The overwhelming majority of deaths were accidental.
#7: Miami Leads Florida in Deaths Related to Cocaine
Miami leads the state in deaths caused by cocaine and in cocaine-related deaths. The Commission’s report showed 430 total deaths where cocaine was present. Over 250 of them were caused by cocaine and 184 decedents had cocaine in their system.
These are the next highest districts in deaths caused by cocaine, and in cocaine-related deaths:
- West Palm Beach: 291, 114
- Ft. Lauderdale: 250, 78
- Jacksonville: 186, 80
- Orlando: 133, 97
#8: There Is a Cocaine Vaccine in Development That Could Minimize Relapse
According to NIH, medical researchers have made impressive gains in the development of a cocaine vaccine. Research is focused on drug addiction relapse prevention.
The vaccine “stimulates the immune system to create cocaine-specific antibodies that bind to cocaine, preventing it from getting into the brain,” they explain. The vaccine shows promise in test subjects. Of the patients who developed enough antibodies, most of them reduced cocaine use. Research is continuing to improve the effectiveness and the length of time the vaccine will work.
#9: It Can Happen to Anyone
Like every other drug, cocaine is no respecter of persons. Anyone who uses it can become addicted. Whether it is the expensive, pure white powder or cheap crack cocaine, it is addictive.
Wealthy people, those in the middle-class, and people who live below the poverty line become addicted to cocaine in its different forms. Fortunately, those same people are equally likely to respond to Florida addiction treatment.
Believe it or not, cocaine-laced tonics were available over the counter in the 1800s. There is some truth to the rumor that cola drinks once contained at least some. Snopes says it was a “mere trace amount.” Medical research has come a long way. The dangers of cocaine are well-known, and so are the dangers of addiction.
If you are addicted or know someone who is, Florida addiction treatment can help. Contact us for more information about admissions and treatment programs and begin your journey toward freedom from substance abuse today.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.