01 Nov Understanding Cocaine Addiction

This month, we will be exploring different addictive substances and the main reasons why people begin to use different drugs. It would seem that with the scientific evidence of the adverse effects behind drug use, people would never touch many of the substances that many are addicted to. However, there are about 8,000 new users of illicit drugs every day. 25 million Americans have used illicit drugs in the past month. Part one of this seven part series explores cocaine and cocaine addiction.

Cocaine and Crack Cocaine
Cocaine is a white power from coca leaves, while crack cocaine is the crystal form of cocaine. Cocaine is snorted or ingested. Crack cocaine is heated and smoked, and makes a cracking noise when heated, hence the name. Crack cocaine produces a more intense high than powder cocaine and can be less expensive than powder cocaine. However, cocaine is one of the most expensive drugs, and is known as the “caviar of street drugs.” Some street names of cocaine are: Aunt Nora, Bernice, Charlie, Coke, Snow, Paradise, Blow and C. Some street names of crack cocaine are: Apple jacks, Candy, Cookies, Hard ball, Kryptonite, Tornado, Rock star, Dice, and Glo.

Why do people begin using cocaine?
Studies show that 55% of teens begin using cocaine due to peer pressure. And since dealers know this, they use that fact to their advantage. They approach teenagers with tactics such as “this will make you fit in”, “the drug will make you cool”, or “it will make you the life of the party.” Truth is, it does make them feel like the life of the party, for a while. It can make you feel elated, like you have high self-esteem, make your senses more acute, and give you a feeling of supremacy. In fact, cocaine, at first, is “fun.” Many people are confused when their initial use of cocaine does not produce the negative effects they have heard about, and so they continue to use the drug. However, the body quickly becomes tolerant to the drug. Pretty soon, the user tries desperately to recreate that initial high, and takes more and more of the drug to try and match it. They can experience confusion, paranoia, delirium, hallucinations, or become violent. Some people falsely believe that cocaine is a safe, non-addictive drug. Cocaine use is also glamorized in music and media, making it seem like a “normal” thing to do.

Cocaine Statistics
There are approximately 1.5 million cocaine users in the United States. There are about 35 million Americans who have used cocaine. Every year, over 5,000 individuals are convicted of cocaine-related crime, and 500,000 people are hospitalized due to cocaine complications. While cocaine use is decreasing, it still is the number two illicit drug in the world.

Join us next week as we seek to understand heroine addiction.

Arden Smith is an Advanced Substance Use Disorder Counselor with more than 17 years in the addiction and mental health treatment industry. He has a great passion for this field and a strong desire to help people suffering with the disease of addiction and their family members. As part of his experience in this field, he has worked in secure-care, residential, and out-patient environments with both the adolescent and adult populations. Arden has an MBA in Healthcare Management. He has spent the last several years in administrative and management positions including residential director and director of programs ranging from severe psychiatric and mental health facilities to substance abuse treatment facilities. He also served as the chair of the residential best practice committee of a large corporation and helped develop and implement best practice standards for several residential programs.

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