Cocaine has a long and convoluted history — not only in the United States, but also in the world at large. The drug originates from a plant that grows naturally in South America. Ancient South American civilizations chewed the leaves of the coca plant for its stimulant and numbing effects. When European explorers came to the Americas, they began taking some of the dried leaves back home, where the plant became popular for similar purposes.
Then, in the 1800s, a German chemist isolated the chemical compound in the leaves that gave the plant its unusual abilities. Scientists and doctors were quick to synthesize the new compound, called cocaine, and began using it during medical procedures as an anesthetic. But the dangers of the drug had not yet been explored, and as such, the general public’s access to cocaine was not limited or controlled. The chemical was added to powders, pills, beverages, creams and more, and was widely used in ways from soldiers’ “pep pills” to purported teeth whitening.
It eventually became clear that cocaine’s harms were equal to, if not more than, its benefits, and that it had a strong potential for addiction. By the mid-1900s, cocaine was a controlled substance in the United States and much of the Western world. However, the new laws did not stop people from making, distributing and using it — and from creating increasingly powerful versions of the drug. Today, cocaine is available in two forms: a white powder, commonly associated with an upper-class partying lifestyle, and a crystallized rock called crack, which throughout much of the ‘80s and ‘90s wreaked havoc on inner-city communities.
Modern cocaine of all types is a dynamic drug that affects Americans of all walks of life, from homeless people to top-level executive figures. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that 2.2 million people in the United States are current cocaine or crack users, and that 966,000 of these individuals have a cocaine use disorder — that means that nearly half (about 44%) of all cocaine users struggle with cocaine addiction.
At Enlightened Solutions, we know that cocaine addiction in New Jersey and beyond affects so many individuals, their families and their other loved ones, and we want to help. We provide holistic cocaine addiction treatment in the Atlantic City, New Jersey area, that is focused on helping people and their loved ones heal from the physical and psychological wounds caused by addiction to drugs like cocaine and crack. We educate family members about the drug and how it affects the individual, and about ways to recognize addiction as early as possible. We also offer several types of outpatient recovery programming for cocaine addiction, including detox, to help New Jersey residents and their loved ones through this difficult process.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine is an illicit drug — although it does still have some highly limited medical purposes, any use of cocaine in daily life is a risky behavior that could result in serious health concerns, legal trouble or otherwise. If you or someone close to you is using cocaine or crack, you should seek professional assistance immediately to safely stop using the drug and to learn about ways to avoid using it again in the future.
If you are using cocaine and are unsure whether your use is becoming problematic, you can monitor yourself for signs of addiction and you can familiarize yourself with the path from occasional drug use to drug dependence. Cocaine users who are on the road to addiction will quickly develop a tolerance, which means they will need to use more and more of the drug to achieve the same high. They may also begin to experience intense “comedowns” between highs, in which they feel depressed, exhausted or irritable — these effects are the beginnings of withdrawal symptoms that occur when the body becomes dependent on cocaine or crack. They may also start to experience cravings for cocaine or crack, either in certain situations or anytime throughout the day. Even if you do not think this is happening to you, we do urge you to keep in mind that cocaine is a dangerous drug regardless of how frequently you use it or how much you use. You should consider talking to a professional healthcare provider who can give you the tools you need to stop using cocaine before you become trapped in a cycle of addiction.
If you do not know for certain whether a loved one is using cocaine, there are some signs of cocaine or crack use that you can watch for. If any of the following signs are apparent, you should consider talking to your loved one or a professional about your options for seeking treatment.
- Bouts of high energy with crash or sleeping through the following day
- Changes in moods, personality or daily interests
- Decreased performance at work, school or other responsibilities
- Abnormal sleeping patterns
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Clammy skin or excessive sweating
- Reduced hygiene
- Unexplained financial difficulties
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty with memory or concentration
- Nervous movements
- Nosebleeds and dryness around the nostrils
- Burn marks on the hands or mouth
- Signs of white powder on skin or clothing
- Presence of drug paraphernalia including razors, pipes, or baggies
If you are near Atlantic City, New Jersey and are worried about yourself or a loved one, please contact Enlightened Solutions today to find out how we can help. Our compassionate staff is ready to answer your questions and connect you with the resources you need to leave your drug use or addiction in your past and to take your first steps toward a new, sober life.
How are Cocaine and Crack Used?
Like most drugs, cocaine and crack are absorbed into the bloodstream, where they make their way to the brain and trigger chemical signals that create a high. In order for cocaine or crack user to achieve these effects, they must take the drug in a way that gets it into their bloodstream as quickly as possible. This usually includes proximity to absorptive mucous and highly vascularized tissues — notably found in the nasal passages and the lungs. Powder cocaine is, therefore, most frequently used via snorting, or forcibly breathing the powder in through the nose. Crack, on the other hand, can be vaporized in a specialized crack pipe. The smoke is carried into the lungs and absorbed the same way the body takes in oxygen.
The human body is not designed to process drugs like cocaine and crack in this manner, and as such using the drug can have serious physical effects. Individuals who take cocaine via snorting often struggle with nasal problems ranging from dryness and frequent nosebleeds to injuries in the septum that can become infected and require surgery. Crack users who smoke the drug are susceptible to mouth, throat and lung problems that run the gamut from burns to cancer. And, the more frequently the drug is used, the more serious the physical effects: cocaine users can develop a tolerance quickly, and chronic users can find that they need doses every hour or every half hour.
Seeking treatment to cease cocaine use is therefore essential, not only to prevent deterioration of psychological health but also to prevent the physical effects of crack and cocaine use from causing long-term health concerns.
Reasons Someone Would Use Cocaine or Crack
Cocaine and crack affect many different kinds of people for equally as many different reasons. Some young people turn to cocaine because they have seen it glamorized in movies or on television, and they fall prey to peer pressure among friends at school or work. Other people have grown up in an environment that normalizes cocaine or crack use, and they do not realize that life without drugs is an option for them. But one of the main reasons that cocaine and crack take such a strong hold on their users is that these drugs have the powerful ability to boost mood and energy and to stave off negative feelings.
In these cases, cocaine and crack users may be self-medicating — they may have underlying emotional or mental health concerns that cause painful memories and feelings. Past experiences may include traumas such as sexual abuse, emotional abuse or abandonment, which leave behind feelings of powerlessness or self-doubt. Others may struggle with depression or anxiety, the symptoms of which are easily masked by a cocaine or crack high. Being high on cocaine or crack lends a false sense of self-control, self-confidence and sociability, which allows individuals to get through their day without worrying about the problems that may lie deep within them.
Contact Enlightened Solutions
Cocaine and crack are dangerous drugs that come with many serious health concerns — including the possibility of a fatal overdose. It is vital that you or your loved one comes to understand the risks they are taking on when they use cocaine, and that they understand how their actions are affecting their future, their families and others around them. At Enlightened Solutions, we provide effective treatment for cocaine and crack addiction that teaches our patients and their families about the realities of drug abuse and addiction, and gives them the tools they need to begin taking confident steps toward sobriety.
We welcome anyone that is seeking help to find solutions in recovery and is open to exploring the mind, body, and spirit. Please contact us today to learn more about our recovery community and to find out what we can do for you.