The effects of cocaine abuse whether they are social, psychological or physical are not only devastating to the abuser but the effects will crush a family and tear it apart. Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that was once used for medicinal purposes but is now being abused with devastating consequences on its user.
Cocaine was originally found in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia, cocaine is a natural alkaloid which is extracted from the leaves of the coca shrub. The leaves are known to have a stimulating affect so initially they were used by the South American natives who would chew on the leaves to combat fatigue and hunger.
The use of cocaine became prevalent in drinks, tonics, and cure-alls in the 1900’s it was even included as one of the ingredients in Coca Cola‘s popular soft drink. The company still uses the coca leaves as an ingredient today only the drug has been removed from the plant. At one point the coca leaves were used for medical purposes such as anesthesia and pain killers, as well as a tonic for headaches, alcoholism, menstrual cramps and abdominal pain.
The first legislation came in 1914 to regulate the use of cocaine when the Harrison Act prohibited non-medical use of the substance. As a result of the act, the use of cocaine fell off and wasn’t considered an issue any longer. It wasn’t until the 1960s when the increase in cocaine use started again.
As a result the United States has the highest level of illegal cocaine use out of 17 other countries surveyed, despite the U.S. very harsh punitive drug policies. “In 2011 there were 670,000 persons age 12 or older who had used cocaine for the first time within the past 12 months; this averages to approximately 1,800 initiates per day.” ("Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings ") Cocaine has an effect on the chemical in the brain called dopamine which is a messenger like chemical that affects the pleasure sensors which is what gives the abuser that initial feeling of euphoria. There are areas within the brain that become stimulated by different types of reinforcing stimuli such as food sex and drugs. When cocaine is added to the mix it disrupts the normal flow of how information is received and processed
Many users begin using cocaine for the immediate gratifying stimulating effects along with increased excitement, energy, and sociability. Some users have a decreased sensation of pain, and an increase in physical or mental strength. Unfortunately the initial euphoria is followed up by a crash. The crash is what creates the need for the abuser to want more of the drug. Thus begins the vicious cycle of addiction and the body becomes dependant on the drug.
There are many side effects with the use of cocaine. Some of the short term effects are felt almost immediately after the first dose of the drug and then it subsides within a few minutes to an hour. The route of administration of the drug is what determines the duration of the euphoric effect. The quicker the drug is introduced into the body, the more intense the high will be, however; it won’t last as long. Other short term effects of the drug include anxiety, cold sweats, and restlessness, Depending on how the drug was introduced into the body there may be some bleeding or swelling from the mucus membranes as well.
Medical complications are another effect of cocaine use. The most common are cardiovascular which include irregular heart rhythm, myocardial infarction, strokes and seizures. Although it is rare, death can occur on the very first use of any cocaine substance. Combining alcohol with cocaine will only enhance the risk for death.
The short term effect of cocaine use is dangerous, but what are even more dangerous are the long term effects. Cocaine is a very powerful unpredictable drug. Once an individual becomes addicted it is hard to foresee what type of hold the drug may have on that particular