Cocaine: The Deadly White Powder

Cocaine was a drug that was popular in the 80’s. It was a sort of glamorous drug to use at parties, at small social gatherings, or before going out to the clubs. However, more and more research reveals that cocaine is entirely dangerous and incredibly addictive. It is, in fact, one of the most dangerous drugs known to man.

What makes it so dangerous is that once a person begins taking it, it becomes more and more impossible to become free of its grip. A physical and psychological dependence quickly develops. In fact, there was an experiment in the 80’s that seemed to highlighted exactly what cocaine can do. The experiment took a rat and placed it alone in a cage. It then placed two bottles of water from which the rat could drink – plain water and water injected with cocaine. Once the rat tasted the water with cocaine, it continued to go back again and again and again, until it was dead.

This experiment was shown in a television ad sponsored by a Partnership for a Drug-Free America. The ad explained: “Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you.” Just like the rat, people will continue to return to cocaine again and again until something stops them. For many people, this is the lack of money to buy more. And for others it’s death.

The intoxication of ingesting cocaine includes feeling very alert, excited, powerful, and happy. Some users of cocaine describe its euphoria as equivalent to orgasm. However, the euphoria of being high on cocaine can also bring feelings of suspicion and paranoia. In fact, after awhile the high might produce anxious feelings, compulsive and repetitive behaviors, and seeing flashes of light or hallucinations.

Cocaine has significant effects on the brain and it is particularly addictive, as already mentioned, more so than any other amphetamine. Use of cocaine stimulates key receptors in the brain that, in turn, create a euphoria that is hard to ignore. Furthermore, users quickly develop a tolerance to the high, therefore, needing more and more cocaine in order to experience the same high they once did. Cocaine releases chemicals in the brain that lead to higher blood pressure, a faster heartbeat, dilation of the pupils, chills, and muscular palpitations. And with high doses, cocaine can cause a cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, or seizure.

Unfortunately, cocaine is a worldwide, multibillion-dollar business that affects people around the globe, regardless of age, economic status, or gender. If you or someone you know is using cocaine, getting professional support is vital. In fact, with cocaine, it will be important to have an extensive amount of help. This may include living at a residential treatment center, working with a therapist/psychologist, working with a doctor, and attending Cocaine Anonymous meetings.

If you’re struggling with an addiction to cocaine and you’re ready to put an end to your substance use, contact a mental health professional today.

 

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Why People Use Cocaine & Heroin Despite Knowing Their Extreme Dangers

Why People Use Cocaine & Heroin Despite Knowing Their Extreme Dangers | Transcend Recovery Community

In a recent article on this blog, a list of the most addictive drugs was included. Heroin and cocaine were listed as the top two drugs that create the greatest dependency. Perhaps that alone indicates why these drugs are so dangerous. Even a one-time experience can be so alluring that you’re tempted to continue again and again. And with each continued use of either heroin or cocaine, the brain rewires itself, the body wants more of it, and the psychological dependency gets stronger and stronger.

Perhaps the dangers of each of these drugs are well known, or at the very least, they have a reputation for being dangerous and that anyone should stay away from them, if you can. But then why do people end up using them? Why do men and women get hooked on such drugs?

Certainly, it’s the high that’s the bait. It’s the kind of high that makes any sexual experience pale in comparison. Heroin has been labeled the most addictive drug in the world. Its high includes feelings of euphoria, warmth, safety, pleasure, and even joy. For many reasons, the high of heroin along with its severe withdrawal symptoms will easily keep someone in the prison of heroin use for many years. As mentioned in the article that listed the top ten most addictive drugs, heroin has a dependence rating of 2.89.

At the same time, the high of cocaine is not all that different. The intoxication of ingesting cocaine includes feeling very alert, excited, powerful, and happy. Some users of cocaine describe its euphoria as equivalent to orgasm. However, the euphoria of being high on cocaine can also bring feelings of suspicion and paranoia. In fact, after awhile the high might produce anxious feelings, compulsive behaviors, and flashes of light or hallucinations. Cocaine has a dependence rating of 2.82.

Another factor that plays a role in why people end up using these drugs, despite knowing their extreme dangers, is its low cost. In fact, heroin is less expensive than the popular use of alcohol. Because heroin is so inexpensive, it makes it attractive to those who are looking for a way to escape or feel better, if they’re feeling anxious, depressed, lost, or confused.  The low cost makes heroin accessible to wide groups of people.

And prices are relatively low for cocaine as well. One site indicates that cocaine ranges from about $30 to $300 per gram in the United States. According to a recent article in Slate magazine, the price for a gram of cocaine went down to $140 in 2007, which is an 80% decrease from its cost in 1982. Among other factors, the drug’s increased production combined with a lower demand has caused its price to drop significantly.

However, despite the cheaper high, cocaine has significant effects on the brain and it is particularly addictive, more so than any other amphetamine. According a recent study, the time it takes to go from experimentation to weekly use of the drug is less than 3 months. The significant changes that occur in the brain are likely responsible for the rapid path towards addiction.

The low cost and euphoric high of both these drugs lead to the use of them despite their dangers. And the high dependency of the drug catches people in the prison of addiction. Yet, even though the addictive quality of both heroin and cocaine are quite high, it’s still quite possible to end an addiction to them. With the right support, treatment, and commitment to get sober, it’s been done by thousands, if not millions of people before.

If you’ve been captured by the spell of heroin or cocaine and you’re ready to put an end to your substance use, contact a mental health professional today.

 

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The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part Two)

The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part Two) | Transcend Recovery Community

This article is the second in a two part series listing the top ten addictive drugs, counting backwards from 10 to the top most addictive drug. This list is based upon an article recently published by The Fix magazine.

The first article in this series listed the most addictive drugs, rated 10 through 5. The following completes the list with the top four addictive drugs.

  • Methadone (dependence rating = 2.68) – Methadone has been the standard form of sober living treatment for opioid addiction for over 30 years. It is legally only available from federally-regulated clinics for regular use in order to slowly wean an individual off the opiate addiction. When taken properly, medication-assisted treatment with methadone suppresses opioid withdrawal, blocks the effects of other problem opioids and reduces cravings. However, there is criticism against the use of methadone as a treatment drug because regular use of methadone essentially creates another addiction. Although someone might be taking the drug according to instruction, he or she can grow tolerant to the drug, which essentially indicates that an addiction has developed. Replacing one addiction for another, some argue, should not be a form of treatment.
  • Nicotine (dependence rating = 2.82) – Nicotine is found in the roots of certain plants known as the nightshade family of plants and is considered a stimulant. In small doses, nicotine is used in cigarettes and has a stimulating effect when smoked. However, in large doses nicotine can be harmful. Sadly, the nicotine content found in cigarettes has increased over time. One study found that American made cigarettes had an increase of nicotine of about 1.78 percent. Approximately 1000 people die from nicotine-related illnesses every day, including lung cancer. Another study found that those who smoke are more likely to have symptoms of depression than those who do not. Depression is associated with an increased risk for smoking, and research has found that smoking is often a behavior that depressed adults engage in as a way to self-medicate.
  • Crack Cocaine (dependence rating = 2.82) – Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant. It can be taken into the body in a variety of ways, including snorting, injecting, and smoking. However, when cocaine is converted into crack or free base cocaine and smoked or injected directly into the bloodstream, these methods deliver the drug faster to the brain and leads to a more intense high. Because of this, these methods also have more dangerous effects. Extended use of crack cocaine can lead to thickening of tissues in the heart, heart attacks, and heart failure. If used over a length of time, cocaine can lead to sores in the lungs, throat, and mouth, among other significant physical impairments. Of course, other dangers of cocaine use are criminal activity, such as stealing money to maintain an addiction. Over time, a cocaine addiction could even lead to long-term life of crime.
  • Heroin (dependence rating = 2.82) – Heroin is an opiod that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin can be injected or inhaled by snorting or sniffing or smoking it. Symptoms of using the drug include red or raw nostrils, needle marks or scars on arms, wearing long sleeves at inappropriate times, and medicinal breath. Physical evidence might include cough syrup, bottles, syringes, cotton swabs, and spoons for heating heroin. Long-term symptoms are loss of appetite, constipation, brain damage, and damage to the central nervous system. Heroin is a dangerous drug, not only for being incredibly addictive, but also the drug essentially rewires the brain suppressing all instincts and slowing down the nervous system. The drug can be hard to break, as many news reports, articles, and television programs are revealing. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users almost doubled. In 2007, for example, 337 thousand people were addicted to heroin in America and in 2012 that number jumped up to 669 thousand.

Of course, it should be noted that drugs, regardless of their addictive quality, can produce significant impairment in one’s life when an addiction develops. In fact, addictions can also develop to behaviors, such as gambling and shopping, which can also lead to great harm.  Therefore, it’s important to keep in mind that the dependence rating included in this two part article series is one of many factors in the development of addiction.

 

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The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part One)

The 10 Most Addictive Drugs to Quit (Part One) | Transcend Recovery Community

When you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs or even a behavior, such as gambling, putting an end to that addiction will always be challenging. Of course, the severity of the withdrawal experience will depend up on the severity of your addiction. However, another great factor in the strength of an addiction is the addictive quality of the drug.

Recently, addiction and treatment magazine The Fix created a top ten list of drugs that have the highest dependence rating. The following is a synopsis of that article, ending with the most difficult drug to quit using:

  • GHB (dependence rating = 1.71) – Although frequently abused, this drug is actually used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder which causes frequent sleepiness and daytime sleep attacks. It is a depressant that has the positive effects of tranquility, increased sexual drive, and euphoria. Yet, its negative effects on users include nausea, sweating, hallucinations, amnesia; and it can even induce coma. GHB is also known as the “date rape” drug because of its sedative effects and the inability of a user to resist sexual assault.
  • Benzodiazepines (dependence rating = 1.89) – Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin, are commonly prescribed for anxiety. Benzodiazepines have also been very effective in treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The risk with Benzodiazepines, however, is that they are highly addictive and have severe withdrawal symptoms. Yet, if a recovering addict can take Benzodiazepines as prescribed, they usually don’t experience the risk of addiction and instead, the medication greatly facilitates their alcohol detox process. However, if an addiction does develop, the withdrawal process from Benzodiazepines can be severe.
  • Amphetamines (dependence rating = 1.95) – Amphetamines, such as Concerta and Adderall, activate the brain in areas that facilitate attention and focus, which is why they are frequently prescribed for ADHD. Although this drug is not as addictive as methamphetamine, the high of being so elated can also bring feelings of suspicion and paranoia. When taken outside of a doctor’s orders, amphetamines can pose significant risk concerns. The side effects for non-prescription use of stimulants include sleep problems, decreased appetite, delayed growth, headaches, and moodiness. Furthermore, when moodiness or depression sets in, the craving for amphetamines also increases.
  • Cocaine (dependence rating = 2.13) – The intoxication of ingesting cocaine includes feeling very alert, excited, powerful, and happy. Some users of cocaine describe its euphoria as equivalent to orgasm. However, after awhile the high might produce anxious feelings, compulsive and repetitive behaviors, and seeing flashes of light or hallucinations. Cocaine releases chemicals in the brain that lead to higher blood pressure, a faster heartbeat, dilation of the pupils, chills, and muscular palpitations. With high doses, cocaine can cause a cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, or seizure. Cocaine is a controlled substance, and although it’s illegal, it continues to be used recreationally.
  • Alcohol (dependence rating = 2.13) – Alcohol is a liquid that is colorless, flammable, and comes in various forms. The form that is most commonly known is ethyl alcohol (ethanol), the kind of alcohol used in beverages such as wine, beer, and liquor. It is produced through the fermentation of grains and fruits, which happens when yeast acts upon certain ingredients in food and creates alcohol. Beer and wine are drinks that are fermented and can contain anywhere from 2% to 20% alcohol. And other drinks that are distilled, such as liquor, can contain anywhere from 40% to 50% of alcohol. Of course, it’s well known that alcohol, when consumed, distorts perception and judgment and can affect an individual’s mood. It can also slow down one’s reaction time, making it dangerous to drink before getting behind the wheel.
  • Crystal Meth (dependence rating = 2.24) – This drug is a very toxic and addictive substance that can cause severe damage to the brain and central nervous system. Meth can be smoked, snorted, injected, or ingested orally. The high that meth produces includes excited speech, decreased appetite, increased physical activity, and elevated levels of energy. Consequences of meth use include memory loss, aggression, violence, psychotic behavior, and agitation. Meth can also cause irreversible damage to blood vessels in the brain which can lead to strokes. These are only some of the severe health consequences associated with this drug.

It is known within the drug and alcohol field that some people are more prone to the disease of addiction than others. However, the addictive strength of particular drugs also plays a role. For the remaining top four most addictive drugs, look for the second part of this article series.

 

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Sober Living Is More Likely for Cocaine Addicts Because of New Treatment

Sober Living Is More Likely for Cocaine Addicts Because of New Treatment | Transcend Recovery Community

Sobriety over the long term can be difficult for those who have had an addiction to cocaine. However, a recent study tested the ability of the drug Baclofen to inhibit the activation of the brain and the triggering of strong cravings.

Relapses can be a difficult experience, emotionally and financially, for those who have already gone through the process of detox and sober living treatment. Certainly, there are many contributing factors to relapsing, including both conscious and unconscious triggers. For instance, an addiction can have a strong biological and psychological pull. The slightest trigger and craving for the drug can occur almost without notice. Even if a person has made the decision to end their drinking or drug use, it’s easy for a small stimuli to trigger an intense craving. Stress from work, relationship concerns with spouses, family issues, environmental cues, running into old drinking or drugging friends can create an strong desire to use. Of course, having these kinds of triggers, whether in or out of a sober living treatment facility can lead to chronic relapse and continued substance abuse.

There are some obvious ways to prevent certain triggers, such as avoiding certain people and places that will stimulate memories and cravings. Yet, there are unconscious triggers, such as stress or having a particular conversation, which researchers recently investigated. The Penn Medicine’s Center for Studies of Addiction explored the ability of Baclofen to block the brain’s response to unconscious triggers long before conscious craving occurs.

Typically drug withdrawal for cocaine can include strong cravings, mood changes, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and an increased appetite. One’s mood might move through feeling depressed, anxious, and irritable. In a way, the challenging moods experienced during cocaine detox are a compensation for the euphoria experienced while addicted to the drug. However, the body is attempting to find homeostasis. Along these lines, the body is trying to recover its sources of energy. As a result, it might feel very tired during drug withdrawal treatment. Furthermore, the drug detox process might interrupt a regular sleep schedule. Cocaine detox often causes sleep problems, such as vivid and unpleasant dreams, insomnia, or hypersomnia, the experience of sleeping too much. Lastly, those going through cocaine withdrawal often experience a kind of physical slowing down, little energy, or they might experience feeling physically agitated.

The intense cravings and the many symptoms of cocaine withdrawal led researchers to find a way to make the detox process easier for cocaine addicts. The study explored whether the FDA approved Baclofen could inhibit some of the unconscious triggers that can lead to cocaine relapse. The results revealed that Baclofen could significantly lower the reward and motivational circuits to subliminal cocaine cues. Furthermore, the study showed that the effects of Baclofen on cue-induced brain activation were specific to drug cues and not other cues such for food or sex. In other words, cravings for cocaine can be inhibited through the use of Baclofen which specifically addresses those unconscious triggers in the brain.

The lead researcher of the study commented that the use of Baclofen could be therapeutically beneficial and perhaps support in sober living. The drug provides a mechanism to prevent certain types of cravings thus preventing relapse.

Obviously, when going through a sober living program, it’s important that an individual have the support they need. Detox and early sobriety can be a challenging experience. Certainly, this is the purpose of addiction treatment centers and halfway houses – they can provide a healing and safe environment. With enough support and a safe community, sober living can happen. Cocaine detox is the first step towards sobriety and recovery, which is entirely possible no matter the strength of the addiction.

 

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The Halfway House Life After Cocaine Rehab

The Halfway House Life After Cocaine Rehab | Transcend Recovery Community

Cocaine is a stimulant. It’s a powerful drug that causes euphoria, elation, and a feeling that is hard to beat with any other drug. In fact, cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs out there because of the unequaled high that it produces. Continue reading “The Halfway House Life After Cocaine Rehab”