Cocaine is classified as a stimulant which alters the brain’s chemistry to create a pleasurable sensation. Repeated use of cocaine can lead to significant changes in brain function which makes an individual more susceptible to negative moods and feelings when not using the drug. This heightens cravings for cocaine and many people find themselves continuing to use in order to avoid the distressing symptoms of withdrawal every time they stop. The combined effect leads to individuals becoming preoccupied with cocaine use, even in the face of problems it may be causing them in their everyday lives.
However, it is vital that people struggling with cocaine abuse know that there is specialist treatment available to them at thousands of cocaine rehabilitation centers across the country. The objective of most cocaine rehabilitation programs is to identify the issues driving addiction, which generally stem from the individual themselves. Although conventional medicine has been proven successful in treating addiction, Elevate integrates a holistic approach to that seeks to heal the individual’s mind, body and spirit within a cocaine rehabilitation setting.
Medical Conditions Associated with Cocaine Use and Abuse
When people regularly use cocaine, they can develop a tolerance to the drug’s effects, compelling them to take higher doses. While they are progressively using more cocaine, people can also develop sensitization which means that less of the drug is needed to produce non-pleasurable but highly toxic effects such as convulsions or severe anxiety. The combination of tolerance and sensitization can significantly increase the risk of overdose in regular users.
Cocaine is generally available in two forms: powder and crystal (crack). The drug is either inhaled (snorted), ingested, smoked or injected and users generally feel the effects within around five minutes of using. The high created by cocaine can make people feel somehow larger than life, giving them a super-charged confidence boost in social situations. It is this effect that is compelling to users and one of the reasons cocaine is referred to by some as a “party drug”.
However, using cocaine for a period of time can lead to the following medical complications unless individuals seek help at a cocaine rehabilitation center:
Cardiovascular damage: The immediate effects of cocaine include heightened blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and constriction of the blood vessels. This translates as a feeling of high-energy although it can also increase feelings of anxiety, stress, and paranoia. Individuals abusing cocaine for a period of time risk damaging the cardiovascular system in the following ways:
- Blood clots, pulmonary embolism, stroke and deep vein thrombosis
- Chest pains caused by vasoconstriction or angina
- Tachycardia or racing heart rate
- Arrhythmia or heart palpitations
It is a sobering fact that heart attack is the primary cause of death among those abusing cocaine; accounting for around 25% of deaths in people aged 18-45.
Damage to the nose and mouth: The way people use cocaine can also cause medical problems such as damage to the mucous membrane in the nose. The more a person uses cocaine, the more they erode soft nasal tissue and septal perforations can be created in the cartilage lining between the nostrils. Once the septum has been damaged, it eventually leaves behind a hole which can cause the nose structure to completely collapse, requiring surgery to fix. The upper palate of the mouth can also be damaged in the same way through prolonged cocaine use, although palatal perforations are less common than those found in the septum.
Respiratory problems and pulmonary damage: As part of the respiratory system, when the nose has been damaged by cocaine use, it can extend into the sinus cavity. This can lead to complications in the throat and with the respiratory system. Persistent cocaine users are likely to find they develop a chronic cough and are at higher risk of infections such as pneumonia, TB, respiratory distress, pulmonary edema, and asthma.
People using the crystal form of cocaine called crack can develop what is termed “crack lung”. This is a condition that can develop unless cocaine rehabilitation is sought and has the following symptoms:
- Discolored or black sputum
- A deep chesty cough
- Wheezing sounds from the throat
- Pain caused by persistent coughing
- The increased presence of white blood cells
- Increased body temperature
Brain damage: Cocaine use causes vasoconstriction or tightening of the blood vessels, which reduces the amount of oxygen to the brain and increases the potential for brain damage. There is also a heightened risk of an aneurysm as a result of damage to the veins providing the brain with blood supply. Other risks for the brain from regular cocaine or crack use include the following:
- Reduced brain size or cerebral atrophy
- Inflammation of the brain’s blood vessels
- Extremely high fever or hyperpyrexia
- Changes to brain function including the areas of problem-solving, decision-making, vocabulary, concentration, learning and memory
Regular cocaine abuse also increases the risk of developing early-onset dementia or long-term memory loss that mimics Alzheimer’s.
Gastrointestinal damage: Using cocaine reduces the blood flow around the body and organ systems can be damaged without treatment. The short time side-effects of cocaine abuse such as abdominal pain, loss of appetite and nausea can eventually become more permanent unless the individual quits. Cocaine users are also much more likely to develop painful stomach ulcers or other digestive or gastrointestinal problems.
Liver damage: The longer a person continues to abuse cocaine, the higher the risk is of liver damage. Although the liver is the only regenerative organ in the human body, it is not always possible to treat extensive damage which can lead to serious illness or even death. The risk of chronic liver injury is increased if the individual uses cocaine and alcohol together, which is not uncommon among those abusing the drug.
Cocaine addiction is a chronic illness that can be successfully treated, even when a person has been using for a long time. Cocaine rehab centers offer a lifeline to people facing serious health consequences if they continue to abuse drugs and Elevate’s 100% natural holistic policy is a tremendous step in the right direction towards living a drug-free life.
We take considerable time to identify the root causes of substance abuse in each patient passing through our doors. Holistic therapies are used in combination with traditional cocaine rehabilitation treatments to heal the person as a whole, rather than the symptoms of their illness. Successful recovery can be achieved by making changes in the way people think about themselves and educating them on healthier responses to stressful situations.