What started out as a seemingly harmless drug in the early 1900s is now a worldwide problem that claims the lives of thousands each year. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that over 2,000 deaths were attributed to cocaine use in the United States each year. This does not include the nearly half-million hospital emergency room visits that were cocaine-related in 2010. These combined figures illustrate that cocaine abuse and addiction are serious problems with often fatal consequences.
How Widespread Is Cocaine Abuse and Addiction?
Of the drug-related deaths that occur in the United States each year, cocaine ranks among the top contributing substances along with heroin and painkillers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that of the 22.6 million people ages 12 and over who use illicit drugs approximately 1.5 million of them use cocaine. While the statistics are lower than in the years previous (an estimated 1.2 million users in 2001), cocaine is still an urgent problem.
Why Is Cocaine Such a Big Deal?
Cocaine is a Schedule II drug with a high risk of addiction. Evidence of the psychological and physiological effects of cocaine surfaced around the mid-1980s coinciding with the rise of cocaine use prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s. It is frequently linked to neurological, cardiovascular and respiratory issues. Cocaine interferes with brain functions, causing problems with the absorption of dopamine, the chemical related to pleasure, in the brain.
Drug overdoses have steadily risen in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2007, over 27,000 accidental drug overdoses were reported with cocaine among the top culprits. Frequent cocaine use alone, without dependency, is linked to many complications, such as:
- Disturbances in heart rate and rhythm
- Respiratory failure
- Chest pain
- Loss of sense of smell
- Bowel gangrene
- Heart disease
Long-Term Cocaine Use
As with most addictive drugs, the frequency of use increases the user’s tolerance of the drug. Bingeing on cocaine, when it is used repeatedly and at higher doses, can increase a user’s irritability, paranoia and restlessness. The shiftiness in motion and thoughts that is often indicative of cocaine use becomes more erratic and unstable. Taking into account the physical side effects that occur in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems of the body, bingeing on cocaine only makes these body parts work harder.
Some of the more serious problems associated with cocaine are attributed to overdoses and the thousands of hospital visits each year. Cocaine-related deaths are usually due to cardiovascular failure (cardiac arrest) or seizures. Not every user who overdoses on cocaine dies, but each person may experience lifelong complications due to cocaine use.
Don’t be counted among those who lost a life or a loved one to cocaine addiction. There is a way to stop addiction before it’s too late. Here at The Oaks at La Paloma, we specialize in cocaine treatment and addiction counseling. We know how addiction can control your life, and we want to help you get your life back. You can call us anytime – even right now – and together we’ll stand up to cocaine addiction.