While the phrase “cocaine addict” may conjure up images of all-out binges and borderline psychotic drug-seeking behavior, the reality is that many people who regularly use cocaine do so in what they consider to be a casual way. The problem is, this level of cocaine use isn’t as casual as you may think – and there are still very significant risks involved.
Cocaine’s Effects on Your Heart
Cocaine is a seriously strong stimulant and vasoconstrictor, which means it makes your heart pump faster while at the same time contracting your blood vessels. This puts a huge strain on your heart. All this overworking creates tiny tears in your heart muscle, which turns into scar tissue over time. Eventually, repeated cocaine uses can lead to atherosclerosis, a disease involving dangerous levels of plaque buildup in your arteries. It also damages blood vessels in your heart, causes high blood pressure and significantly increases your risk of stroke and heart attack.
Sexual Health and Transmissible Diseases
Cocaine damages your reproductive system, which can lead to problems with fertility later on. And because of ingestion methods that often include sharing rolled-up dollar bills and/or intravenous injection, cocaine users are at much higher risk for transmissible diseases like Hepatitis C.
In addition to all the health risks the drug itself poses, cocaine typically consists mostly of unscrupulous cutting agents. These include levamisole, a cattle dewormer known to cause cancer and damage white blood cells in humans; benzocaine, a dental anesthetic that’s used to mimic cocaine’s numbing properties and is known to cause a blood disorder called methemoglobinemia; and ephedrine, among others. Because of its high levels of impurity and intense, immediate effects, it can also cause sudden death in high doses.
Cocaine and Mental Health
Cocaine works quickly and powerfully, and has a profound influence on the way your brain chemistry functions. Over time, its use rewires neural pathways, which has a number of effects. It can become harder to find joy in the things you once loved doing; sexual pleasure diminishes; stress levels rise and risks of suicide increase as a result of its deeply depressing come-down. Cocaine users may become irritable, angry and impulsive, and generally experience such distressing mood states that they eventually seek out more cocaine to placate their discomfort. All of this serves to escalate use and perpetuate the cycle of addiction.
Broader Consequences of Cocaine Addiction
Though its individual side effects are dreadful in and of themselves, worst of all is the damage to your relationships, family life, career, finances and overall happiness and wellbeing that is the inevitable end result of cocaine addiction. Says founder of the Global Drugs Survey Dr. Adam Winstock, “As people use more and more, over longer and longer periods, relationships can start to fall apart. The user’s bank account drains, performance at work goes downhill, romantic partners get angry, and friends begin to distance themselves—so they feel lonely and isolated, often leading them to do even more coke to get that false ego boost.”
Holistic Cocaine Addiction Treatment That Works
At The Sanctuary at Sedona, we don’t just treat the symptoms of cocaine addiction. Our integrative treatment program looks beyond using behavior to ask why it’s happening and solve its underlying causes. We believe that even if you’ve tried traditional rehab programs unsuccessfully in the past, by addressing cocaine addiction on a mental, physical, spiritual and soul level, you can fully be recovered.
Learn more about the importance of a holistic approach to rehab in our article: Traditional Addiction Treatment May Actually Cause Stress.