No drug takes you down faster or harder than crack. There are two forms of cocaine, the powdered form that you snort, and crack that you smoke.
Cocaine is so addictive that if you give a mouse a hit of cocaine every time it presses a lever, it will do nothing else but press that lever. It won't stop for a minute to take a sip of water or a bite to eat, and eventually it will die from a cocaine overdose. The only thing that prevents people from overdosing on crack is their bank account. Once people are addicted to crack, they will sell their soul for another hit.
Look at the self-test questionnaire page to see if you have an addiction.
The Consequences of Cocaine Use
Cocaine is a stimulant, therefore it causes your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to constrict, which can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. Heart attacks in young patients without a history of heart disease are so frequently due to cocaine that emergency room doctors are taught to consider it as one of the first diagnoses.(1)
Cocaine is an important cause of cardiac arrest. Cocaine causes your heart to speed up, and in some cases go so fast that it actually stops. What is especially deadly about cocaine is that there is no correlation between how many times you've used cocaine or how much you used, and when you will suffer a cardiac arrest. Some people die after their first use. Other people have used cocaine hundreds of times, and then drop dead on the very next time. Some university athletes who suddenly drop dead are discovered to have died from a cocaine induced cardiac arrest.
As with all drugs, the most important consequences of cocaine addiction are psychological, social, and emotional. But with cocaine they happen faster and harder than with other drugs. If you are a cocaine addict, you don't have to wonder if you've hurt your friends and family. You can be sure that you have.
The broader consequences of addiction. Look at the disease of addiction page to learn more about the broader consequences of addiction.
The withdrawal symptoms of cocaine are emotional.There are no physical withdrawal symptoms from cocaine, which is why people sometimes trick themselves into thinking they aren't addicted to it. "I'm not physically addicted to cocaine." But there's no physical addiction and non-physical addiction – there's just addiction. All addiction occurs in the brain.
Even though there are no physical withdrawal symptoms, cocaine still satisfies the criteria of addiction. People have difficulty controlling how much they use, and they continue to use even though it has negative consequences to their life.
The emotional withdrawal symptoms of cocaine are:
Post-acute withdrawal. Look at the post-acute withdrawal page to learn about those symptoms and how to deal with them. The post-acute withdrawal symptoms for cocaine are similar to those of other drugs:
- Mood swings
- Variable energy
- Low enthusiasm
- Poor concentration
- Sleep disturbances
Most cocaine addicts struggle with the idea of total abstinence. If you're addicted to cocaine, you know you never want to use cocaine again. Cocaine has ruined your life, it has cost you a lot of money, but you're not sure about stopping alcohol. Maybe alcohol has never been a problem. But because of cross addiction, if you want to stop using cocaine you must also stop all addictive drugs including alcohol and marijuana.
Alcohol is a common trigger for cocaine use. You'll start with just a few drinks a week. Maybe you'll drink moderately for weeks or even months without using cocaine. But then one week, you'll have a bad week. Bad things happen. During that week, everything will go wrong. You'll be stressed out at work. You'll have an argument at home. And by the end of the week, you'll really want a drink. But instead of just a few drinks, you'll want maybe three or four drinks to take the edge off. After the first one or two drinks, your inhibitions will be lower. After two or three drinks, you'll reach a magic number, and your brain will suddenly say "Bingo. I remember this feeling, and I remember something that feels even better." And you'll be off using again.
Recovery requires total abstinence. (Reference: www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)
Recovery and Relapse Prevention Strategies
If you have decided that you are addicted, this is your opportunity to change your life. Learn more about recovery skills and relapse prevention strategies in the following pages. You can recover from addiction and be happier.
1) Schachne, J. S., Roberts, B. H., & Thompson, P. D., Coronary-artery spasm and myocardial infarction associated with cocaine use. N Engl J Med, 1984. 310(25): p. 1665-6.