Cocaine Use Disorder

(Cocaine Abuse; Cocaine Dependence)

Definition

Cocaine use disorder is when the use of cocaine harms a person’s health or social functioning, or when a person becomes dependent on cocaine. The powdered form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Crack is cocaine in a rock crystal form. It can be heated so its vapors can be smoked.Cocaine use disorder is treatable. But, it takes hard work. Talk to your doctor if you think you have this condition.

Causes

Cocaine stimulates the brain to release large amounts of the hormone dopamine. Dopamine results in the euphoria commonly reported by cocaine abusers. As a person continues to use cocaine, a tolerance is developed. This means that higher doses and more frequent use are needed to maintain the euphoria.
Release of Dopamine in the Brain
neurotransmitter
The dopamine connecting to the receptors causes a euphoric feeling. This occurs naturally, but cocaine causes an exaggerated response that can lead to addiction.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
When a cocaine user stops using abruptly, a crash or withdrawal occurs. This results in an extremely strong craving for more cocaine. It also results in fatigue, loss of pleasure in life, depression, anxiety, irritability, suicidal thoughts, and sometimes paranoia. These withdrawal symptoms often prompt the user to seek more cocaine.

Risk Factors

Cocaine use disorder is more common in young men and in those aged 18-25 years old. However, cocaine use disorder can occur in anyone at any age.

Symptoms

Symptoms associated with cocaine use disorder include:
  • Short-term effects include:
    • Euphoria
    • Increase in energy
    • Excessive talking
    • Being mentally alert
    • Decreased need for food and sleep
    • Dilated pupils
    • Increased temperature
    • Increased heart rate
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Bizarre, erratic, or violent behavior
    • Vertigo
    • Muscle twitches
    • Paranoia
    • Restlessness, irritability, and anxiety
    • Heart attack
    • Seizures
    • Sudden death
  • Long-term effects include:
    • Cravings that can't be controlled or predicted
    • Increased tolerance
    • Increased dosing
    • Use of cocaine in a binge
    • Increased irritability, restlessness, and paranoia
    • Paranoid psychosis
    • Hearing sounds that aren't there
  • Medical complications include:
    • Heart rhythm abnormalities
    • Heart attack
    • Chest pain
    • Respiratory failure
    • Stroke
    • Seizure
    • Headache
    • Abdominal pain
    • Nausea
    • Chronic runny nose or septal perforation

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