The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With Crack Cocaine

The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With Crack Cocaine(1)

Alcohol decreases a person’s fundamental ability to make sound decisions. As judgment, reasoning, and inhibition drop, a person is far more apt to make poor choices like using crack for the first time, or using large amounts within shorter periods of time.

Crack cocaine is intensely addictive, so much so, that according to CESAR a “A person can become addicted after his or her first time trying crack cocaine.” With this toxic drug cocktail your risk of overdose will always be higher, as is the chance that your body will experience other harm.

What Does Alcohol Do To Your Body?

Even though alcohol may make people initially feel more energetic, it’s actually a sedative or “downer.”  When you consume alcohol it goes to work on your central nervous system (CNS) and begins to depress it or slow it down, hence why it’s also referred to as a CNS depressant.

The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With Crack Cocaine_crack cocaine addiction

As this occurs, your heart, breathing, and blood pressure rates all start to decline. The more alcohol you use in a shorter period of time, the more pronounced these effects. Alcohol greatly taxes a person’s liver and also affects their heart and brain.

How Does Crack Effect You?

Crack is a powerful stimulant. When a person uses crack their CNS speeds up (the opposite effect of alcohol) and their brain’s chemistry is immediately altered. Here, two things happen. First, as the CNS quickens, a person’s heart rate and other cardiac functions increase. Secondly, as their brain’s chemistry changes, and because crack is so powerful, they quickly begin to crave the drug.

Crack is far more potent than powdered cocaine, and thereby carries an even greater risk when abused. Despite this intense effect, the high or “rush” from crack is relatively short-lived (only about five to ten minutes).

The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With Crack Cocaine_crack potency

To counter this brief effect, crack, like powdered cocaine, is often used in binges. This means a person keeps using the drug in rapid succession after the first dose, a practice which increases the risk of addiction, heart damage, and overdose.

Why Do People Use Alcohol And Crack Together?

The reasons are similar to most which fuel polydrug abuse. Some users ingest both because alcohol intensifies the high associated with crack. On the other hand, alcohol is often used to moderate the come-down associated with a crack high, or certain unpleasant side effects of the high itself, like twitching, tremors, or anxiety. Regardless of why a person chooses to use these drugs together, they are placing their life and health in a precarious position.

What Happens When You Use An “Upper” And A “Downer” Together?

Due to the opposing nature of each drug’s basic characteristics (one being a stimulant and the other a depressant) the drugs seem, at certain points, to cancel out the effects of the other.

This may lead a person to drink more because they don’t feel the intoxicating effects of the alcohol as acutely. Or a person may use more crack because the alcohol seems to balance out the heightened states associated with it.

Many users take these to be positive effects, when in reality they are anything but. This does not at all mean that your body is immune from the effects of the additional alcohol or crack. While certain effects may wane, the impact on other parts of your body and brain remain.

When you use both your CNS is caught in the middle of a dangerous tug of war which overburdens this critical system, as well as your heart. As your body is pulled quite literally from one extreme to the next in this way, your life is in jeopardy.

Alcohol And Crack Increase Your Risk Of Death

Both alcohol and crack, can, alone, cause overdose. Using these two drugs together increases the risk. As a person uses crack more frequently to fulfill their cravings, their CNS system becomes even more taxed, increasing the risk of overdose. This hazard is high when a person is binging on the drug, behaviors which increases when alcohol is present.

The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With Crack Cocaine_cocaine concentrationFor individuals who aren’t accustomed to consuming alcohol with crack, the potential for a fatal overdose skyrockets. Alcohol can actually make it easier for your body to absorb cocaine, which increases the concentration of cocaine within your blood by 20 to 30 percent. From this effect, a person could overdose if they take an amount they are typically used to when using the drug alone.

In the instances where crack seems to “cancel” out alcohol’s effects, a person may continue to consume alcohol in pursuit of a buzz. The problem is that even though they don’t feel the alcohol, their body is still taking large amounts of it in.

Once the crack begins to wear off a person may become very intoxicated quickly, to the extent they get severe alcohol poisoning.

Also, research shows that cocaine as a whole has been linked to an increased risk of suicide when used with alcohol.

What Is Cocaethylene And Why Is It So Toxic?

When alcohol and crack cocaine enter your system within the same period of time their chemical components begin to react together, forming a new chemical called cocaethylene.

Cocaethylene itself has psychoactive properties that many users seek out even if they don’t realize it. This chemical has a longer half-life by three to five times compared to cocaine, which means it remains in your system longer, lengthening the euphoric state of the crack.

Cocaethylene has been associated with an increased risk of:

  • Cardiac complications: Various cardiac processes can malfunction from this chemical. The risk of heart attack climbs (especially in those under aged 40).
  • Liver damage: Since your liver metabolizes the two drugs to create cocaethylene, this organ can suffer substantial damage.
  • Seizures: Seizures can lead to bodily injury and head trauma, which could cause death.
  • Sudden death: Cocaethylene “carries an 18- to 25-fold increase over cocaine alone in risk for immediate death,” according to the Journal of Addictive Diseases.
  • Immune system: A compromised immune system makes it harder for your body to fight disease and infection and maintain an altogether healthful state.

Even though a user may feel the pleasurable effects for a more substantial period of time, the longer cocaethylene is in your system, the greater the opportunity it has to damage your body.

It is possible to treat two addictions at once. In these instances, inpatient drug rehab is typically the best choice for treatment.

Get Help For Alcohol and Crack Cocaine Abuse Today

If you or a loved one is addicted to both alcohol and crack, or experimenting with one while addicted to the other, don’t delay. Contact now to begin exploring your treatment options today.

If you or a loved one is battling methamphetamine abuse or addiction, contact us now!

For More Information Related to “The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol With Crack Cocaine” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From



US National Library of Medicine — Effects Of Concurrent Use Of Alcohol And Cocaine
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics — Cocaine and Alcohol Interactions in Humans: Neuroendocrine Effects and Cocaethylene Metabolism

What Is A Brompton Cocktail Addiction? Bromptom Cocktail Addiction_

Addiction may not always come as a surprise—if you use substances recreationally, you may be aware of the risks that come with them. But what about those drugs that are prescribed for conditions like severe pain and relief from suffering? Some prescription drugs are highly addictive and pose a high risk of abuse, and this is especially true when people are taking them to relieve pain.

The Brompton Cocktail is a combination of several substances originally developed to help people manage severe pain. The idea of mixing substances to help people who are suffering in extreme pain isn’t new.

The medical field has been using powerful pain-relieving combinations for centuries. The combination that was the ancestor to the Brompton Cocktail, mixing morphine and cocaine, may have began as early as the nineteenth century.

What’s A Brompton Cocktail And How Is It Used? Bromptom Cocktail_Traditional RecipeAs previously mentioned, the Brompton Cocktail consists of a few different substances, meant to give ultimate relief from pain. Traditionally, the Brompton Cocktail consisted of morphine or heroin, cocaine, and a highly pure form of ethyl alcohol (or gin). Sometimes, the mixture also contained an anti-nausea agent, such as Thorazine.

The Brompton Cocktail was originally used to treat patients with agonizing pain conditions, but also came to be used for relief of symptoms in patients with terminal diseases, like cancer. This elixir isn’t as commonly used in present day.

However, this mixture has become popular in recreational use. Now, the name Brompton Cocktail refers to any mixture that contains alcohol, an opioid (like heroin or morphine), cocaine, and/or phenothiazine (a tranquilizer).

Why Is The Brompton Cocktail Addicting?

Using the Brompton Cocktail as a form of relief for someone suffering with a terminal disease can be quite helpful. Using it recreationally, though, can be dangerous. Why?

Each of the substances within the cocktail have a different effect:

  • The opioid provides nearly instant pain relief and calm, relaxing feelings
  • Cocaine, a stimulant, produces feelings of euphoria and well-being
  • Alcohol, a depressant, also produces anti-anxiety types of feelings and slows brain and motor functions

These substances are each highly addictive on their own. When you combine them, you’re at heightened risk for the dangers associated with them. All of these substances come with their own side effects and consequences, and addiction falls in both categories.

Opioids, cocaine, and alcohol all have immediate effects on your body. You get instant relief, in different ways and from different symptoms, but relief nonetheless. The result is that your body likes this relief, and your brain changes communication pathways because of it. You then start to seek the substance more and more, forming a habit, and after time, addiction.

Dangers Of Addiction

Addiction is dangerous because it consumes you. When you become addicted to a Brompton Cocktail mixture, you’re not just addicted to one substance, but several. And addiction makes you not think the same way you used to. Instead, you begin seeking the substance at any cost.

As you might guess, compulsively seeking substances can have some dire effects on your health and on your life. Each substance affects your health in different ways, but addiction to any substance can change your life from very minor effects to changes that make it hard to live your daily life. Bromptom Cocktail_Opioids

Some of the ways addiction can alter your life include:

  • Changes to personal relationships
  • A toll on finances
  • Decreased performance at school or work
  • Loss of job or career
  • Permanent changes to health, affecting daily life
  • Lack of interest in things you used to love
  • Compulsive substance-seeking that doesn’t allow for much else

Consequences Of Substance Abuse: Opioids, Cocaine, And Alcohol

Addiction can cause so many consequences in your life, and one of the biggest of these is the effects to your health. Each of the substances in the Brompton Cocktail is highly addictive, which means it changes your brain chemistry to make you addicted.

But abuse of opioids, cocaine, and alcohol also greatly affect your health. Just a few of the consequences of these substances includes the following:

  • Opioids: this group includes powerful pain relievers and the illicit drug, heroin. Consequences include collapse of veins, infection in your heart lining or valves, pus-filled, swollen tissues, chronic constipation and stomach cramps, development of liver or kidney disease, and lung troubles, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
  • Cocaine: Long-term effects of cocaine abuse depend on the method of administration. Taken by mouth, these include reduced blood flow and bowel decay. By snorting, these include nosebleeds, loss of sense of smell, chronic runny nose, and troubles swallowing. By injection, effects may include high risk of contraction of infections and infectious diseases, such as Hepatitis and HIV, and risky sexual behavior that could lead to contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Alcohol: prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to liver problems, vision problems, and increase risk of development of cancer, among other issues.

What Treatment Is Available For Brompton Cocktail Addiction? Bromptom Cocktail_DetoxTreatment for any type of addiction has to be comprehensive. Addiction doesn’t just affect your physical health, but actually changes the way you think and behave, so treatment for it must address these changes and work to better them. This is especially true when dealing with addiction to more than one substance.

Addiction to opioids is different from addiction to cocaine, which is different from addiction to alcohol. At our rehab centers, we offer unique healing that works to address the differing symptoms and conditions of any and all substance use disorders. How do we accomplish this? By utilizing a multidisciplinary approach.

In short, this means we use several methods of treatment for well-rounded results. Counseling helps you work through troubling thoughts and emotions (healing of the mind). Behavioral therapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) help you replace suppressive behaviors associated with addiction with new, positive behaviors.

Medication assisted therapy can help you safely detox from use of substances. Since opioids, cocaine, and alcohol all come with uncomfortable bouts of withdrawal, this is an important part of Brompton Cocktail addiction treatment.

Finally, the best treatment results you’ll get can be found at inpatient, private rehab centers like the ones you’ll find at Our rehab centers offer a superb quality of care that can be the difference between simply recovering and actually getting well.

Find The Best Rehab Center Today

The Brompton Cocktail is a powerful concoction, and addiction to it can be dangerous since it contains multiple addictive substances. You may have become addicted to this mixture because, after years of abuse, you built up a tolerance and now are scared about what will happen if you stop taking it.

When you enter drug or alcohol rehab, you don’t have to live in fear any more. We can help you find the rehab center that will work with you to design a program that fits your needs. Contact us today at to learn more.

If you or a loved one suffer from a co-occuring disorder, contact us now!

For More Information Related to “What Is A Brompton Cocktail Addiction?” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From


Drug Free World—What Are Opioids?
National Institute On Drug Abuse—DrugFacts: Cocaine
National Institute On Drug Abuse—DrugFacts: Heroin
U.S. National Library Of Medicine—Alcoholism And Alcohol Abuse

What Is “Freebase” Cocaine?

Freebase Cocaine_

Freebase cocaine strips the substance from additives, leaving the (almost) pure form of cocaine. Cocaine in its purest form is potent and highly addictive. Risk of overdose is high for abuse of freebase cocaine, along with a myriad of health effects. Treatment for cocaine addiction is available, and can help those addicted rearrange their lives to leave addiction behind.

Freebase cocaine is a solid form of the drug— its base form. The process of making freebase cocaine involves removing hydrochloride, resulting in the solid form. Cocaine is smoked as a solid, called crack cocaine. Abusing freebase cocaine, “freebasing,” allows people to experience the drug in its purest form.

As you might guess, this produces immediate effects that are highly addictive.

Why “Freebase” Cocaine?

Once the base of cocaine has been freed, stripping away the additive, what’s left is a form of the drug that is pure. In this solid, crystal form, cocaine has a low melting point, which makes it optimal for smoking.

Freebase Cocaine_1.5 Million People

Any time you smoke a substance, the effects will be more immediate than consuming it orally. This is also true with smoking freebase cocaine. A person desiring an immediate high would use a small pipe to inhale the reduced vapors of the drug.

What Happens When You Take “Freebase” Cocaine?

Once you inhale the vapors, the effects are felt within seconds. The rush, or surge of euphoria, follows, lasting minutes. The rush is what gets people: it is intense, powerful, and short-lived.

After the quick rush comes the high, lasting about 30 minutes, and characterized by immense energy, sometimes clear focus, and a hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch. The come-down—the period following the high—lasts longer, is just as intense, and far less desirable.

When people “come down” off the high they may feel a number of extremes, such as the following:

These feelings are severe enough to make people not want to experience them again. Avoiding the awful comedown and/or withdrawal can cause people to keep abusing cocaine, especially once they develop addiction.

Long-Term Effects

Abuse of freebase cocaine can result in several long-term effects to health. Malnourishment can occur with lack of appetite, both from the effects of cocaine and from binges. During a binge, a person abusing cocaine may take several consecutive doses. This allows the person to maintain a continuous high.

But binges can be dangerous due to risk of overdose from increased amount of cocaine in the body during a short period of time. In addition, cocaine abuse can cause someone to be irritable and restless, or even extremely paranoid.

Paranoia may be one of the more severe results of cocaine abuse. It occurs especially after binges, and may be responsible for resulting hallucinations and delusions. Years of prolonged abuse can also damage nerves, affecting movement, and may even lead to Parkinson’s disease.

What Happens When You Become Addicted?

When you continually abuse an addictive substance, you increase the risk of developing addiction. Freebase cocaine is highly addictive, and abusing it is dangerous. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, “repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction.”

Freebase Cocaine_NIDA

Addiction changes the way a person’s brain responds to feelings of pleasure (reward). Abusing freebase cocaine leads to an excess buildup in the brain of the chemical dopamine. The brain eventually adapts to this change, no longer responding to the drug’s effects.

Because the brain so enjoyed the first and any subsequent rush feelings associated with abuse, it craves that feeling. Cravings can become so intense that they disrupt your daily functioning. Life with addiction becomes all about seeking a way to fulfill and ease the cravings.

When people try to ignore these cravings or have no access to cocaine, they may experience withdrawal. This process can be physically challenging, as the body responds to the brain’s urges. Withdrawal may be characterized by:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Increase in appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Troubling dreams
  • Slowed thought process
  • Suicidal thoughts

To relieve the troubling process of withdrawal, those who are addicted may begin taking more frequent or higher doses. This can lead to overdose, which is an increased health risk, and can be fatal.

Risks Of Overdose

Part of the reason freebase cocaine is so dangerous is that it is nearly pure. Many types of the drug are mixed with something, making them less potent. Freebase cocaine is both pure and smoked to ensure a quick onset—both of these factors increase risk of overdose.

Freebase Cocaine_Overdose

This is especially true when a person is addicted and starts increasing doses or dosage frequency. It could be easy to take too much of the drug. Also, people who typically take crack cocaine or the powdered form may not realize the potency of freebase cocaine. When switching to smoking freebase, then, they may take too much even the first time.

Overdose is a medical emergency, and should be treated that way. Symptoms of cocaine overdose include convulsions, increased heart rate, hyperventilation, and coma.

Some of the health consequences of cocaine abuse can lead to overdose as well. These include irregular heart rhythm, heart attacks, seizures, and strokes, according to the NIDA.

Treatment For Cocaine Abuse

There are currently no medications available for the treatment of cocaine abuse. However, several forms of therapy have proven effective. The NIDA states that one of the best forms of treatment available is cognitive behavioral therapy.

This evidence-based method helps addicted individuals free themselves from the routine of addiction. Once a person’s life changes for drug abuse, it is often hard to break that cycle. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps people build healthy lifestyle habits, free from drug abuse.

Other treatment approaches may include:

Aftercare is also important in treating cocaine abuse and addiction. Seeking out support groups, taking part in 12-Step programs, and living in drug-free, residential communities are all viable aftercare options for those recovering.

Treat Cocaine Abuse And Addiction

Millions in the United States struggle every year with cocaine abuse and addiction. In 2014, 1.5 million people were currently using cocaine, as reported by the NIDA.

If you have watched someone close to you fall deeper into the cycle of addiction, you know how hard it can be to break free. But treatment can help pull you or your loved one out of the habit of abuse and into a new lifestyle. Contact us today at to hear more about rehab centers, talk to someone about cocaine addiction, or learn about treatment options.

For more information on freebase cocaine, call now!

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Center For Abuse Substance Research—Cocaine
Drug Free World—Effects Of Cocaine
National Institute On Drug Abuse—DrugFacts: Cocaine

Cocaine Use And Depression Cocaine And Depression_

Extended cocaine use affects neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. The longer the usage, the more these essential neurotransmitters are repressed and impacted. Cocaine alters the brain’s natural reward system, leading to feelings of paranoia, depression, or anxiety. Whether depression came before or after cocaine use, treatment is highly needed to deal with any form of mental illness. Many who face depression turn to drug abuse, and many who suffer from drug abuse form signs of depression afterward. Cocaine And Depression_1 in 10 TeensDrug abuse has the potential to create numerous health effects, both physical and mental, within the lives of those who abuse. When a mental health disorder occurs with drug abuse, the two often worsen each other. Cocaine abuse, especially prolonged use, changes a person’s brain, affecting various chemical components, including certain important neurotransmitters which are critical within regulating a person’s mood. This effect may worsen existing depression or create new symptoms. Together, these disorders require effective substance abuse treatment.

Depression In America

Depression is a disease which is rampant across our country, and receiving the right information can help to greatly improve these conditions. This disorder can become debilitating, changing the way you think, feel, and carry out daily tasks.

In 2014:

  • 1 in 10 teens suffered a period of major depression.
  • 1 in 5 American adults experienced a mental health problem.
  • 1 in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or major depression.

In addition, over 41,000 Americans are lost every year because of suicide.

Two or more illnesses can co-occur with each other in the same individual, such as a cocaine use disorder and depression. These are called co-occurring disorders or a dual diagnosis. Whether it’s happening at the same time or one after the other, this comorbidity (presence of two or more illnesses) can impact each illness and make them both go down hill faster. A person’s normal desires and needs can be greatly impacted by addiction. Compulsive behaviors from drug abuse are comparable to those of mental conditions.

Cocaine’s Effects On The Brain Cocaine And Depression_1 in 25 AmericansWhen using cocaine, there are several things which transpire concerning different aspects of the brain. Various neurotransmitters are affected, including the release of dopamine. When it comes to a sense of well-being, dopamine is the chemical which is considered to bring forth all kinds of pleasure and happy feelings. Dopamine releases when related to pleasure or a feeling of reward when it comes to specific activities in life. If dopamine levels become too high in the brain, they are linked to hallucinations, aggressiveness, delusions, anger, as well as other psychotic symptoms.

Cocaine also increases norepinephrine and serotonin, which are other important neurotransmitters within the body. When it comes to norepinephrine, the body’s “fight-or-flight” mode gets activated, including an increase of heart rate and blood pressure and a person feeling alert. Keeping a balanced mood, sleep, appetite, as well as other behaviors, are all linked to serotonin.

Cocaine kicks these brain chemicals into an instant rush, and over a period of time, these essential neurotransmitters become low and depleted. This can lead to a host of different problems, including depression.

Cocaine And Depression Cocaine And Depression_WithdrawalAfter extreme abuse over a period of time, stopping the use of cocaine can lead to cravings and depression for months. In some cases, suicidal thoughts may also occur. As someone faces withdrawal, the cravings grow more intense, even though the pleasurable effects of cocaine dip way down, instead becoming replaced by paranoia. When someone is facing withdrawal, here are some of the symptoms that may occur:

  • Increased appetite
  • Agitation and restless behavior
  • Slowed activity
  • Fatigue
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • Depressed mood
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams

When cocaine is used chronically, it blocks normal neural functions. It starts to disrupt the brain’s chemical reward areas. The longer cocaine is used, the more neural depression starts to impact emotions, memories, and cognitive functions.

What Happens When You Use Cocaine For A Long Time?

Through tests, it has been found that cocaine, when abused over an extended period of time, creates a decline in neural activity within the motivational and pleasure areas of the brain. Quoted within a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) publication on the subject, Dr. Porrino says, “Within the structure called the striatum, the blunting of activity spreads from the nucleus accumbens, a reward area, to the caudate-putamen, which controls behavior based on repetitive action.” Cocaine And Depression_MemoriesMemories and information-processes are highly restricted when someone uses cocaine over the long term. “The reduced activity of the temporal lobe indicates that this structure is somehow compromised,” says Dr. Nancy Pilotte of NIDA’s Division of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research. “Some of these regions mediate the ability to connect emotionally, and cocaine’s blunting of them may induce a flattened affect similar to depression symptoms that are common among chronic cocaine abusers.”

Does Cocaine Cause Depression?

When it comes to mental illnesses and drug abuse, the two are highly linked. Many people who abuse drugs are also diagnosed with a variety of mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety. When people who are facing troubles turn to cocaine, this drug abuse can also bring out the symptoms of a separate mental illness like depression. A mental disorder can create a need for an individual to self-medicate from the emotional or mental symptoms that they are coming up against. In this case, it could have been depression that caused the drug addiction, or in others, it could be that the drug addiction was the first to show up. It can be tricky to decipher which one occurred first. Regardless of whatever symptoms popped up first, it is important to bring about treatment to mental illnesses.

Reach Out For Treatment Today

If you or a loved one suffer from cocaine abuse and mental health issues, contact us now!

Whether the signs of depression have happened before or after cocaine use, reach out for the help you need today. If you are experiencing depression, suicidal thoughts, or other symptoms of mental illness, there is support for you. Getting the help you need will start your journey upward out of depression and cocaine abuse. Please contact us at


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National Institute on Drug Abuse — Long-Term Cocaine Self-Administration Depresses Brain Activity
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Comorbidity: Addiction and Other Mental Disorders

Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine: Acute and Chronic Heart Problems Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine - Acute and Chronic Heart Problems

Like most drugs—legal or illicit—cocaine can have detrimental physical effects on the human body, especially the cardiovascular system. A powerful stimulant, cocaine has long been used by healthcare professionals for legitimate medical purposes, but its popularity as a street drug has revealed the often devastating results of its abuse and even occasional use.

History Of Cocaine

Long before cocaine’s explosive popularity as a recreational drug in the 1970s and 1980s, South American indigenous people knew well the powerful stimulant properties of the drug derived from the native coca plant. As long ago as 5,000 years, the Incas in the region of the Andes Mountains chewed on raw coca leaves to derive short-term cardiovascular benefits such as increased heart rate and rapid breathing—distinct advantages in the high altitudes of the Andes. Spanish conquerors later forced native laborers to chew coca leaves to increase their productivity in silver mines.

German scientist Albert Niemann is credited with successfully extracting and isolating cocaine from the coca plant and spurring the medical use of the drug beginning in the late 1800s. Perhaps the most famous—some would argue “notorious”—promoter of cocaine (for both medical and recreational use) was Sigmund Freud. Freud promoted cocaine use for a myriad of maladies and downplayed its dangers, even stating, “For humans the toxic dose (of cocaine) is very high, and there seems to be no lethal dose,” according to The Foundation for a Drug-Free World.

The widening use of cocaine during the early 20th century, in everything from Coca Cola to snake-oil elixirs, gave rise to a reported death toll of more than 5,000 individuals in 1912. The drug legally was outlawed in 1922 for anything but medicinal purposes.

How Cocaine Affects The Heart

Modern cocaine use and abuse is an attempt to replicate the results that those South American ancients achieved, but via more intense and dangerous methods. Rather than chewing relatively low-dose raw leaves, cocaine today is ingested in much more pure, and dangerous, forms through snorting, smoking, and injecting, allowing it to impact your system in a wider range of ways. Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine - Acute and Chronic Heart Problem_Norepinephrine

The greatest danger to the heart in someone who uses cocaine results when the heart is simultaneously forced to work harder while being denied the necessary blood flow to meet the increased output. The seeming irony of this medical condition is created because cocaine inhibits the absorption of norepinephrine within the body’s neurons. By blocking or inhibiting norepinephrine, the force of contractions in the heart increases, raising the pulse or heart rate and, thus, blood pressure levels. All of these factors result in an increased workload for the heart muscle and a corresponding need for more oxygen.

But, as mentioned, cocaine also causes a blood flow reduction by constricting capillaries and reducing blood flow to the heart. So cocaine is at the same time restricting blood flow (and needed oxygen) to the heart while forcing the heart to work much harder.

Problems Caused By Increased Heart Work And Blood Flow Restriction

Several serious heart conditions can result from a heart that’s working too hard and at the same time being denied required oxygen, including:

  • Myocardial infarction — Often simply called a heart attack, myocardial infarctions are common among cocaine users of all ages and no matter the history of abuse. First-time users may suffer a heart attack as easily as a seasoned user. Even ex-users are at risk due to past damage done to the heart. But young users are more likely to suffer an attack; in as many as 25 percent of heart attack victims under age 45, cocaine is a factor.
  • Coronary artery aneurysm — The enlarging of coronary arteries typically is due to balloon-shaped distensions and are often precursors to a heart attack.
  • Stroke — Usually caused by lack of blood flow, stroke for cocaine users may be up to seven times the rate than for nonusers.
  • Cardiac arrhythmia — These heart rhythm problems are common among active cocaine users and may cause cardiac arrest.
  • Aortic dissection or acute aortic dissection — Another condition that greatly affects younger victims, an aortic dissection is a tear or rupture of the aortic wall.
  • Myocarditis and cardiomyopathy — Myocarditis is an inflammation of the heart and can lead to heart muscle damage and cardiomyopathy. With cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle can become thick or rigid, or, occasionally, damaged muscle tissue is replaced with scar tissue. This can lead to heart failure, usually in older users and even among former users.

Short-Term Vs. Long-Term Cardiovascular Problems

As already evidenced, many heart problems caused by cocaine use can be both acute and chronic. While some conditions favor younger users—heart attack, for instance—others can occur more often in older users or ex-users. These older users usually are, or were, chronic users and their heart problems reflect that long-term abuse—an enlarged heart or damaged heart muscle tissue. Of course, older and long-term users may also suffer acute or sudden conditions, such as a heart attack. But these episodes often are the result of an already damaged heart due to chronic use.

Most cocaine-related deaths occur in young people between the ages of 18 and 29. As many as 47 percent of all chronic cocaine users of all ages have enlarged hearts, many without being aware of it according to study findings presented by Medical News Today. The acute dangers of cocaine use became widely reported in 1986, when 22-year-old basketball star Len Bias died of cardiac arrest after a night of what many witnesses called “normal” cocaine use. Although Bias’ death was attributed to various cocaine-related factors, including cardiac arrest, cardiac arrhythmia, and cocaine intoxication, the consensus was that the superbly conditioned athlete suffered from electrical abnormalities of the heart induced by cocaine consumption. Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine - Acute and Chronic Heart Problem_Chronic Cocaine Users

There is a relationship between acute and chronic heart problems and acute and chronic cocaine use. Sudden and acute heart problems, especially among younger users, often are the results of high, or acute, levels of cocaine ingestion. Among long-time users of cocaine, chronic heart problems are more common than among younger users.

Many of the acute problems in young cocaine users become chronic problems in older users or older ex-users. This is especially true of cardiovascular problems. While a young user is more likely to die from a cocaine-induced heart attack, an older user is more likely to develop long-term problems such as contracted blood vessels and capillaries, myocarditis and cardiac necrosis (damaged heart muscle).

One problem in determining conclusively the effects of cocaine on the heart, especially in older users, is demographic and lifestyle challenges for medical professionals. While many younger users may present with heart-related problems during an emergency room visit (making a diagnosis easier), older users frequently have led unhealthy lives apart from cocaine use. They often suffer from various maladies that can make direct correlation between cocaine and heart problems difficult.

Death Is A Real Danger

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug overdoses attributable to cocaine use showed a steady rise from 2012 through 2014, after a general downward trend over the previous seven years. Nearly 7,500 cocaine-related deaths were reported in the peak year of 2006. Males accounted for more than three times the death totals of women. Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine - Acute and Chronic Heart Problem_Cocaine Death Totals

It’s Not Too Late To Get Help

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If you or someone close to you is experiencing problems, we’re here to help. We can help you protect yourself and your heart, so that you may live a healthier, drug-free life. can offer assistance in directing you to resources and treatment options. We can also help you discuss various financial options. Contact us today.


For More Information Related to “Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine: Acute and Chronic Heart Problems” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From



National Institute on Drug Abuse — What is cocaine?
National Institute on Drug Abuse — Cocaine: Research Report Series
Circulation — The effects of acute and chronic cocaine use on the heart
U.S. National Library of Medicine — Myocardial necrosis and cocaine. A quantitative morphologic study in 26 cocaine-associated deaths
Circulation — Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System? How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System_

Cocaine is a drug that comes in two types of forms, in a powder (cocaine) and a crystal (crack). Formulated from the coca plant, cocaine creates a short-term “high,” that for some, may turn into the extreme opposite, such as depression, edginess, and an intense craving for a new fix. Snorted as powder, changed into a liquid for injection with needles, or turned into a crystal to be smoked, cocaine abuse takes on many forms, all of which are dangerous for people.

Cocaine starts to disrupt the way your brain processes the “feel good” chemicals in your body, so that you need more of the drug to feel relatively normal. Those who become addicted to cocaine oftentimes end up losing interest with other important aspects of their life, such as family, friends, or activities they used to enjoy.

How Fast Does Cocaine Work?

Cocaine takes hold right away, even with only a single dose. Its effects can range anywhere from a few minutes to up to an hour. When people use it in small amounts, the individual may feel more talkative or alert, feeling greater amounts of energy, a sense of euphoria, and increased sensitivities to sight, touch, and sound.

How a person feels when using cocaine is usually dependant on how they use it. The quicker the drug goes into someone’s system, the stronger the high becomes—but in turn, they also experience a shorter amount of time feeling the effects. Smoking coke yields quicker results, which only last five to ten minutes, whereas snorting it produces a slower effect, with the feelings present longer, at 15 to 30 minutes, as explained by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

How Long Does It Stay In The Body?

Mental Health Daily reports “Upon cessation of usage, cocaine is known to stay in your system between 3.3 and 5.5 hours. However, the primary active metabolite within cocaine known as “benzoylecgonine” takes considerably longer (between 1 and 2 days) to get fully eliminated from the body.” How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System_ Cocaine Is Known To Stay In Your

Despite this, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Treatment Improvement Protocols tells us that cocaine stays in the urine one to three days for those who use on a daily basis; however, a single use will only be witnessed for a day or less. Cocaine may be detected in sweat longer. There has been manufacturers who developed a sweat patch approved by the FDA, that is worn for about a week. Hair also can detect illicit substance. Small amounts of metabolites in the bloodstream flow into the hair and then are trapped in the hair strands. When a substance is used for about a week, the hair follicles start to absorb it. Most hair grows at about ½ inch per month, so a strand can hold a record of someone’s substance use for longer periods of time.

Cocaine’s Dangers And Damage To The Body How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System_ Here Are A Few Things

Cocaine is damaging while you use it, however, even after the drug leaves your body the hazards of abuse and addiction may continue to affect you. Individuals who use cocaine tend to not sleep consistently. Those who use cocaine chronically also tend to not want to eat, so they are often times malnourished, which can lead to other problems in the body. Here are just a few things that happen to most people when using cocaine: nausea, constricted blood vessels, increased heart rate, muscle spasms, convulsions, paranoia, anger, hostility, or anxiety.

Though some individuals may use cocaine sporadically, many times an individual who abuses cocaine will use it in a binge-like fashion, and each time they tend to up the dosage for greater results. Doing so can increase restlessness, panic attacks, irritability, paranoia, and sometimes full-force psychosis—which can cause the person to completely be consumed with non-reality experiences and hallucinations, to the extent their safety is jeopardized.

People who abuse cocaine will have different results and a variety of problems, depending on the way they choose to use it. When someone constantly snorts cocaine, for example, this can lead to nosebleeds, a person no longer being able to smell, swallowing problems, the voice becoming hoarse, a constant inflamed, runny nose, and permanently damaged nasal tissue. Those who smoke cocaine may harm their lungs and aggrevate existing asthma. Users who inject the drug develop track marks and increase their risk of contracting a disease such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis C. Those who inject may also have allergic reactions, which can result in death in some cases.

The organs in the body can get damaged by repetitive cocaine usage, as explained by NIDA. Blood flow into the gastrointestinal tract can be impaired, creating a risk of tears and ulcerations or a person may also encounter severe bowel decay. The heart and cardiovascular system is also greatly affected, leading to chest pain, a greater risk of stroke, inflammation to the heart muscle, and even heart attacks. How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System_ An Individual May Suffer Cognitive

Beyond stroke, neurological problems are also a significant risk when using cocaine for extended periods of time. The National Institute on Drug Abuse tells us an individual may suffer cognitive impairment, with reduced functioning in: memory, motor skills, prolonged attention, impulse control, or decision making concerning rewards or punishments. More severe risks occur as well, including seizures, and in some cases there has been intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain), and disorders such as Parkinson’s disease can also be a concern with long-term use. In addition to all these risk, a person can overdose on cocaine, which can lead to death.

Reach Out And Get Help

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The body is a beautiful thing, but when impacted with drug abuse it can become severely damaged. If you or a loved one is walking down the road of cocaine abuse or addiction, there is help for you today. No one deserves to face these challenges alone—that’s why we are here to support you.

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For More Information Related to “How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From



National Institute on Drug Abuse — Cocaine: Research Report Series
The National Center for Biotechnology Information — Appendix B. Urine Collection and Testing Procedures and Alternative Methods for Monitoring Drug Use
Mental Health Daily — How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?

Cocaine’s Effect on The Heart

Cocaine’s Effect on the Heart

There are many negative consequences of abusing cocaine: it alters an individual’s emotions and brain function, and affects the heart in negative ways. Unfortunately, approximately 14% of Americans have tried cocaine and 1 in 40 U.S. adults have used cocaine in the past year. Whether a person has used cocaine for years or is trying it for the first time, they are putting their lives and hearts at risk. Finding the right rehab center and treatment for your cocaine addiction is necessary in order to live a healthy and sober lifestyle.

Cocaine And Heart Health

The heart continuously pumps blood to our organs and beats over 100,000 times per day and produces enough energy to drive a truck for 20 miles. Exercise, eating healthy, and other positive life choices (such as not smoking) affect the way our heart functions.

And unfortunately, cocaine is bad for the heart. Whether a person habitually uses cocaine and has a history of heart disease or is relatively young and is trying cocaine for the first time, anyone abusing cocaine may still suffer from a heart attack even after using cocaine once.

When a person uses cocaine, they increase their blood pressure and heart rate. This results in the constriction of arteries that give blood to the heart. When blood flow to the heart is disrupted in this way, the individual abusing cocaine runs a high risk of heart attack. Cocaine can even cause arrhythmia. And every time someone abuses cocaine, they are adding more stress and potential damage to the heart.

“The Perfect Heart Attack Drug”

Researchers have dubbed cocaine “the perfect heart attack drug.” Scientists note that cocaine users have higher rates of risks of heart attack and stroke than people who do not use cocaine. Not only can cocaine affect an individual’s heart while taking the drug, but the damage can last for years or a lifetime.

Researchers in Australia in 2012 found that cocaine users:

  • Have 18% more thickness of the left ventricle wall (the left wall is the heart’s main pumping chamber)
  • Have 8mm more systolic blood pressure
  • Increase their aortic stiffening by 30-35%

Stiffer arteries, a thicker heart wall, and high blood pressure can all contribute to a heart attack in cocaine users. And unfortunately one-third of first heart attacks are fatal.

What To Do In Case Of Emergencies

If you or a loved one abuses cocaine and are experiencing chest pains or other heart symptoms, go to your nearest emergency room immediately. Not only can cocaine cause chest pain, it is also linked to symptoms such as:

  • Palpitations
  • Shortened breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Profuse sweating

If a doctor does not know that a patient has abused cocaine, the life of the treated individual may be in jeopardy. The typical treatment for heart attacks is beta-blockers and clot-busting drugs. These drugs interact negatively with cocaine, as it increase blood pressure and the dangers of bleeding in the brain if a patient is administered a clot-busting drug.

When a doctor knows of a patient’s history of cocaine abuse, they will then be able to treat the heart concern in the appropriate manner.

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For more information about cocaine and your heart, contact us today.Your heart health shouldn’t be toyed with and if you are abusing cocaine, you need to contact us at today. We can help you find the cocaine addiction treatment that is right for you and your needs. It’s never too late to seek help.

New Enzyme Found That May Treat Cocaine Overdoses

New Enzyme Found That May Treat Cocaine Overdoses

Statistics conducted in 2008 by the National Survey on Drug and Health estimated that on average 1.9 million people used cocaine in a 30-day period, with 359,000 using crack cocaine. Drug addiction is on the rise in America and it is a serious issue we all must address. However, new findings give hope to those who are suffering to quit cocaine.

Recently on October 29th, 2015, researchers revealed that a new enzyme was found that may successfully treat cocaine overdoses. While struggling individuals should always seek treatment for their drug addiction (inpatient treatment, counseling, etc.), medications such as this enzyme may offer more reinforcements in the battle against drug abuse and a potential solution to cocaine overdoses.

The New Enzyme

On October 29, the findings of the enzyme were made public at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting and Exposition in Orlando. The study was directed by professors from the College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky. The enzyme, E12-7Fc-M3, has proven beneficial in metabolizing cocaine in the body without negative consequences.

The professors at the College of Pharmacy found previous success in an enzyme that broke down cocaine in the bloodstream. This previous enzyme they created was called CoCH1. But currently, their research on the new enzyme, E12-7Fc-M3 has focused on finding out how mice and rats respond when injected with cocaine and the enzyme.

Testing Success

When the professors tested mice and rats with cocaine and the enzyme they found that it was more effective in breaking down cocaine than the original enzyme, but it also had a half-life of roughly 110 hours. To compare, CoCH1 only had a half-life of approximately eight hours.

Researchers also found that one 0.25 mg dose of E12-7Fc-M3 sped up the metabolization of cocaine in the body to a minimum of 20 days. They also discovered that 2.5 mg completely rid the test animals of 25 mg of cocaine in 7 days.

Looking Ahead

While only preliminary research has been done, professionals are optimistic that the results will be translatable to humans in the near future. It is hoped that one day very soon, this form of enzyme treatment could be administered to patients in the emergency room if they overdose on cocaine. In 2008, the Drug Abuse Warning Report indicated that of the 2 million emergency room visits that happened due to drug abuse, 482,000 of those were cocaine.

Encompassing Treatment

It’s fascinating how far science and research have advanced us in the medical field. While more research still needs to be conducted, this new enzyme may prove to be the next big step in helping those that struggle with cocaine addiction. Administering just the enzyme to the patient that has overdosed is a great benefit. However, it should not be the only form of treatment offered to the individual.

One potential downside to the enzyme is people using the enzyme as an emergency treatment while still abusing cocaine. This is why treatment options, such as inpatient facilities, counseling, outpatient facilities, and others are extremely important.

Combining the aspects of medical professionals, medication, therapy, and personal desire to seek help and get better, will provide individuals with a strong foundation for recovery success.

Contact Us

If you or someone you know is struggling from a cocaine addiction or other drug addiction, we can help. There are many treatment options available today and we can help you find the one that’s right for you. Contact us now at to get the help you need to find you way back to a sober lifestyle.

Contact us now at to get the help you need to find you way back to a sober lifestyle.

Neural Pathway to Treat Cocaine Addiction Might Be Possible

Neural Pathway to Treat Cocaine Addiction Might Be Possible

Pharmaceuticals Could Help Cocaine Addiction

Using other types of drugs to treat drug addiction such as cocaine is not a new concept but it may be debatable. Repeated cocaine use and addiction to cocaine increases the brain’s amount of dopamine (the pleasure centers of the brain). Every time a person uses cocaine, they are essentially changing the chemistry of their brain. Those who have fewer dopamine receptors in their brain are more likely to develop an addiction because they are seeking out cocaine, which is a dopamine-increasing drug.

Scientists have recently found a neural pathway that was undiscovered until now. Using pharmaceuticals may be the next best way to help those recovering from a drug addiction. The neural pathway is thought to maintain a person’s likelihood to relapse. Relapse is central to a cocaine user’s problems because of cocaine’s changes to the brain, making the habit so hard to shake.

In a recent study using lab mice, scientists were able to increase or decrease the animals’ relapse by controlling their Activin receptors. Activin receptors are closely linked to pleasure and reward in the brain. Cocaine changes the brain’s connection to neurons because it changes the shape of cells. Scientists don’t yet fully comprehend why Activin receptors link up with cocaine usage, but they think that the receptors control certain genes which stop cocaine from changing neural pathways. The goal of using pharmaceuticals with neural pathways is to prevent relapse from happening.

What Else Can Mice Reveal?

Scientists say that 1 in 5 people who try cocaine will develop an addiction. Some people, however, do not develop an addiction and scientists are trying to figure out what makes their brains different from those who do develop an addiction. In the study with mice, scientists allowed the animals to poke their noses through an enclosure that contained cocaine. Some of the mice obsessively poked their noses through, seeking more cocaine, while other mice only poked their noses through a few times and couldn’t care less. Scientists discovered that the mice that were not addicted to cocaine showed a strong resilient factor. The resilient mice had stronger inhibitory circuits which gave them better control over how often they visited the drugs.

Why Neurons And Addiction Go Hand-In-Hand

It used to be common knowledge to think that our neural pathways were well-established and rather rigid when we reached adulthood. Recent research however, shows that our brains are much more intricate and adaptive than that. The brain is constantly making new neurons and pathways throughout our lives. For example, if someone is in a tragic car accident and suffers from brain damage, neurons rebuild new pathways around the damaged area. This is called neuronal plasticity. And it happens more often than you’d think.

How We Can Think About Neuroplasticity And How It Changes Us

Imagine you are driving to your favorite restaurant, which you have visited many times. Your brain is wired and recognizes if you have used the same roads over and over again to reach your final destination. Now imagine the next time you drive to your favorite restaurant, a new construction sign is posted and the road is closed for 3 months. You must take a detour that you’ve never used before to get to your favorite place. After driving the detour (maybe several times if you keep visiting the restaurant), your brain learns to adjust and adapt to this new route.

This detour method and adaptation is exactly the same way our brains operate when it comes to cocaine or drug addiction. When a person retrains their brain to associate cocaine with stress-relief or even pleasure, the brain gets rewired to think that this is the new and correct path to take. It’s a good feeling that is hard to break and your brain just wants to keep repeating that feeling over and over again. You have, in effect, changed your neuron pathway the same way you would if you had to learn how to drive a new detour. This is why looking into neuron pathways is so important if we want to understand addictions. Luckily, just as the brain rewired itself for cocaine addiction, the brain can rewire itself after an addiction. Though it is very difficult to do, it can be done. And that is why pharmaceutical use to stop cocaine addiction relapse may help.

Hope For The Future

While scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how neurons and Activin receptors are linked to addictions such as cocaine, perhaps pharmaceuticals that prevent a relapse from happening is the next best thing.

If you’d like to know more about how neural pathways can help cocaine addiction, please contact us at you’d like to know more about how neural pathways can help cocaine addiction, please contact us at We are here to give you the best information for getting into treatment for addiction and making moves toward a new and drug-free future.

Understanding Cocaine’s Effect On The Brain

Understanding Cocaine's Effect on the Brain

Cocaine’s effect on the brain has been dubbed “a silent disease” despite the far-reaching and immediate consequences. It’s not called a silent disease because it does little harm, but rather that those who ingest even small amounts of the substance semi-regularly are doing great harm. Even small cocaine exposures can quickly reduce the amount of oxygen-rich blood reaching the vital neural network of the brain. Cell death quickly follows. Premature aging of the brain can result in early onset dementia as well as other behavioral, social, and perceptual changes.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca plant. The effects of cocaine as a central nervous system stimulant include short-lived heightened focus and extreme euphoria. Use of the drug can also cause a number of cardiovascular complications including the constriction of blood vessels, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, and increased risk of stroke and heart failure.

Cocaine is available on the street as a highly refined powder that is water soluble and injectable or snorted via the nasal passage. Cocaine may also be smoked in the form of crack cocaine. Cocaine’s long-term effects can include damage to grey matter in the brain as well as other structural and biochemical and resulting behavioral changes.

Cocaine’s Immediate Effect On The Brain

When cocaine is first introduced to the body and brain, the resulting euphoria is intense. Cocaine generates a dopamine response related to the reward centers of the brain, and simultaneously increases norepinephrine and serotonin, which when released at levels sustained by cocaine use, leave a person experiencing a heightened level of focus and concentration, along with increased confidence or energy and euphoria associated with the dopamine release.

This high, however, is short-lived, often lasting 15 minutes, and can perpetuate use of the substance, or a cocaine binge. Unfortunately, as someone increases frequency or the amount of cocaine they are ingesting, their normal brain function begins to shut down. Natural release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin is suppressed as the body becomes dependent on cocaine for similar effects.

Cocaine’s Adverse Effects On The Brain

As abrupt as the effects of cocaine are felt, cocaine’s adverse impact on the brain is equally swift. New research indicates the cocaine-addicted brain ages at twice the rate of a normal brain. The loss of grey matter, the vital communication network in the brain, can lead to stroke and early-onset dementia.

Stroke is the result of reduced blood flow to the brain, common among individuals who abuse cocaine. And recent research at Harvard University shows that even low level exposure to cocaine can restrict blood flow to the brain. The researchers at Harvard exposed test subjects to relatively low amounts of cocaine, compared with what would normally be sold on the street. It was discovered that even at these extremely low doses, blood flow constriction occurred in nearly every subject. It follows that levels obtainable on the street generate an even greater adverse impact on brain health, reducing blood flow and vital oxygen to the cells that need it, resulting most often in the death of grey cell matter.

Cocaine’s Impact On Behavioral Controls Of The Brain

Areas of the prefrontal cortex of the brain are literally rewired by exposure to cocaine. The prefrontal cortex regulates everything from our personality to cognitive function, decision-making, and behavior. This area of the brain can change or adapt over time as necessary to external stimuli, including stress, but when a powerful stimulant like cocaine is introduced, this rewiring can take place in a matter of days and weeks.

One experiment involving mice indicated that when given the choice of an uncomfortable enclosure versus a comfortable enclosure, mice chose the comfortable environment. However, when confined to the uncomfortable enclosure and exposed to cocaine, then re-tested, the mice quickly began showing preference for the uncomfortable enclosure they previously rejected.

This same region of the brain, when altered by cocaine, can turn a moral and sensible individual into a person capable of criminal and violent behaviors. In a healthy individual, the prefrontal cortex regulates decision making and is involved in sorting good thought processes from bad, associates positive action with positive results, avoids negative consequences by avoiding behaviors or situations that are more like to result in negative consequences, etc. In the cocaine-addicted brain, this highly social and regulated part of the brain becomes chaotic and may result in violent outbursts, antisocial behaviors, and an inability to associate action with consequence.

Studies have found a correlation between repeated exposure to cocaine generates a wide range of related psychological symptoms in addition to impaired cognitive function, including paranoia, social avoidance or withdrawal, severe insomnia, anxiety, impulsivity, delusions, hallucinations, violent outbursts, homicidal or suicidal thoughts or actions, and depression.

Treat The Addiction, Heal The Addicted Brain

Healing the brain after an addiction to cocaine is one of the greatest challenges to long-term recovery. It can take months for dopamine levels to return to any pre-cocaine exposure levels, resulting in feelings of apathy, lethargy, and general malaise. This is one of the primary reasons for relapse in the first year of recovery.

Cravings for cocaine as well as depression and the symptoms described above can persist for months. Managing these and other withdrawal side effects is one way to improve the long-term success outcome for the cocaine-addicted individual, as well as reducing overall harm to the brain.

Locate Treatment Options Near You For Cocaine Addiction is an online resource designed to connect you with the drug treatment options that meet your individual needs and preferences.Let us connect you with the professional support and evidence-based drug treatment programs that can help you reclaim your life from a cocaine addiction. Contact us and discover a new and rewarding life in recovery beginning today.

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Types of Addictions: Cocaine

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant that produces intense, short-lived euphoria — and potentially life-threatening effects such as heart attack or stroke.  In the United States, cocaine is involved in more emergency room visits than any other illicit drug, according to 2011 data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Derived from the South American coca plant, cocaine is known to be extremely addictive.  The drug is typically snorted through the nose as a fine white powder, or dissolved in water and injected into the veins (which increases the risk of overdose).  Freebase cocaine is known as “crack” — a rock crystal form of the drug that is smoked and crackles when heated.

Addictive and Dangerous

Cocaine stimulates the brain’s reward pathways and floods the body with feel-good dopamine, causing a powerful euphoric rush.  Users may also feel agitated, confident and hyper-energetic.

Tolerance to cocaine develops quickly and requires larger, more frequent doses to sustain the characteristic cocaine high.  This can lead to addiction and devastating health consequences.

Cocaine’s Health Risks

Cocaine impairs judgment and can cause great physical and psychological harm.  Its adverse effects may include:

  • Severe paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Seizures, stroke
  • Malnutrition (related to appetite suppression)
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Abdominal pain/intestinal damage and nausea
  • Chest pain, respiratory infections
  • Nosebleeds and nasal damage from snorting cocaine
  • HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases from injecting cocaine
  • Risk of fatal overdose, especially when cocaine is combined with other drugs


While the abuse of opioid drugs such as heroin and prescription narcotics is on the rise, cocaine use has been declining in recent years.

In 2012, there were an estimated 1.6 million cocaine users in the United States, vs. 2.4 million users in 2007, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  Cocaine users represent approximately 0.6 percent of the U.S. population; the average age at first use is 20 years old.

Spending by drug users on cocaine has decreased by nearly half, from $55 billion in 2000 to $28 billion in 2010, according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  Drug experts attribute the decline to a crackdown on Colombian production and trafficking of cocaine — as well as higher prices per gram, and less cocaine purity in the U.S. market.

The good news is that cocaine addiction rates and overdose deaths are also down, but there is still cause for concern.  Many people remain dependent on cocaine — endangering their physical and mental health, especially when binging on the drug.  They also risk criminal arrest and financial and family hardship.

Do You Have a Cocaine Problem?

Cocaine’s highly addictive properties make it easy to become dependent on the drug.  Even after periods of abstinence, there is a high risk of relapse — as certain cues or memories can trigger powerful cravings for cocaine, according to research from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

If you have a strong urge to use cocaine, and need increasingly more to get high — or if you continually binge on cocaine despite the consequences, you may be at risk for addiction.

A confidential self-test for cocaine addiction is available online from Cocaine Anonymous, a 12-step fellowship of people in recovery.  Click here to take the test:

Physicians diagnose cocaine dependence by using the gold-standard DSM-5 criteria, developed by the American Psychiatric Association.  A person must meet at least two of 11 criteria within the same 12-month period, such as a strong urge to use cocaine; spending a great deal of time trying to obtain, use or recover from cocaine; building a tolerance for the drug; and having withdrawal symptoms after stopping cocaine use.

Cocaine Addiction in a Loved One

Signs of cocaine use in a loved one may include periods of disappearance and returning in a notably excited, talkative or agitated state.  You may observe that your loved one is not eating much, sleeps very little or all the time (following a drug binge or “crash”), has mood swings or is more prone to aggression and risky sexual behaviors.  Your relative may also lose interest in work and family life, as cocaine use becomes all-consuming.

Physical changes in your loved one may include dilated pupils, a runny nose or nosebleeds (if cocaine is snorted), needle track marks (if cocaine is injected) or blistered, cracked lips and burned fingers (if cocaine is smoked).

Getting Help

You don’t have to fight cocaine addiction alone.  Effective treatment is available, including medically-supervised detoxification programs that can help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent cocaine relapse.  Like millions of Americans in recovery from addiction, you can experience the rewards of a healthy, drug-free life.

“I’m confident that medications – or perhaps a vaccine – will be the future of cocaine addiction treatment,” says David J. McCann, Associate Director of the Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  “However, it is important for patients to know that effective non-drug therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, already exist. There is no reason to delay in seeking treatment.”

Cocaine addiction is typically treated in an inpatient residential facility.  To be most effective, the treatment duration should be at least 90 days, and severe addiction may require longer stays, according to research studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Your best option for long-term recovery is a program that addresses all aspects of your addiction.  This includes any dependence on other drugs, nutritional depletion caused by cocaine use, and mood disorders or mental health issues that co-occur with the cocaine addiction.

An effective program often includes research-proven psychosocial therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which helps break patterns of destructive thinking to prevent cocaine relapse.  A strong “after care” program is essential, to build on the gains made in rehab.

On the Horizon: A Cocaine Vaccine, Medications that Ease Cravings

One of the most promising advances in cocaine addiction treatment is a potential vaccine, now in development at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.  The vaccine works by creating antibodies that bind to the cocaine, making it too large to reach the brain and have any effect.

Once cocaine is ingested — whether it’s smoked, inhaled, or snorted — it goes to the bloodstream.  The anti-cocaine vaccine binds to the drug molecules, creating a larger molecule that is unable to cross the blood-brain barrier.  And when cocaine fails to reach the brain, the user does not experience a dopamine-induced “high” — which ultimately can break the cycle of addiction.  Even if the cocaine user has a relapse while taking the vaccine, the cocaine will have no effect.

Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications specifically for cocaine addiction, although doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants and anti-depressants to ease cravings and promote well-being. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is conducting trials on several promising medications that could help reduce cocaine dependence.  These established medications are already approved to treat other diseases and include vigabatrin, modafinil, disulfiram, topiramate and tiagabine.

Disulfiram, also known as Antabuse, is a common treatment for alcoholism that has been shown to reduce cocaine use in clinical trials.  Disulfiram discourages cocaine dependence by making the “high” much less pleasant and the user more anxious.  The combination of buprenorphine plus naltrexone is also being studied as a promising pharmacological treatment for cocaine addiction.

Resources for Recovery

Contact Us About ServicesDRUGREHAB.ORG helps people achieve freedom from cocaine by finding the best care for lasting recovery.  We provide FREE referrals to respected rehabilitation centers nationwide – including the latest evidence-based treatment approaches and aftercare programs.  All calls are confidential and help is available 24/7. is an independent service, not funded by or affiliated with any treatment center.  To find help for cocaine dependence, call our experienced counselors today at:

888. 957 .3422


Cocaine Anonymous is a 12-step fellowship of former cocaine-addicted individuals, with online forums and in-person meetings held throughout the United States.  To find the nearest C.A. meeting, go to the website or call 1-800-347-8998.


These websites include online forums, mutual aid organizations and 12-step programs for people with cocaine and other drug addictions:


1-800-NCA-CALL (800-622-2255)  24-hour helpline sponsored by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.>

1-800-662-HELP (4357)  24-hour National Drug and Alcohol Abuse Hotline offering information and referral services to people seeking treatment and other assistance; sponsored by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)


Reviews questions to ask when searching for a rehabilitation program.  A free publication from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.