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Cocaine and Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine - Risks of recreational use

Cocaine is a stimulant which is a derivative of the coca plant which grows in many parts of South America. It is one of the most common illegal drugs used in the UK & in the United States.

Slang: 'crack', 'charlie', 'C', 'snow', 'coke', 'toot', 'rocks', 'stones'

Cocaine normally comes in powdered form and is generally snorted through the nose or injected. Another extract of cocaine, known as freebase cocaine, can be smoked and results in a faster "high".

Cocaine was used in many medicines in the late 1800s and was used extensively as an anaesthetic. It is still used rarely in ear, nose and throat surgery. It was also an ingredient in Coca-Cola until 1903.

The effects of cocaine can last from just a few minutes to a couple of hours, and the immediate effects include an increased heart rate, sexual arousal, increased body temperature, feelings of euphoria and well being, poor judgment and aggressive behaviour.

High doses of the drug can lead to headaches, dizziness, violence, chest pain or a heart attack. An overdose can cause lung failure, heart failure and a brain haemorrhage.

A brain haemorrhage can occur after a single dose of cocaine. A severe headache or loss of consciousness following the use of the drug could indicate the possibility of a brain haemorrahage.

Prolonged use of cocaine can result in seizures, dependence and psychosis in some cases. Snorting cocaine can cause nosebleeds and tears in the nasal cavity, and smoking freebase cocaine can cause breathing problems and lung damage.

Severe withdrawal symptoms are common when a person who is dependent on cocaine decides to stop using it. These include:

- severe depression
- nausea
- vomiting
- "The shakes"
- hunger
- long and disturbed sleep
- muscle pain
- suicidal feelings

Regular use of cocaine can also cause a number of social and financial problems. Users also find the can become tolerant to the effects of cocaine and need higher doses to achieve the same effects as when they first started using it.

Cocaine use in pregnancy can affect the foetus. There is some evidence that it can increase the risk of a miscarriage and other complications Babies of mothers using cocaine suffer withdrawal symptoms. The possibility of behavioural problems is still being investigated.

Getting help for Cocaine Addiction :

People who have become dependent on any drug should speak to their family doctor about how to break their addiction. Those who have decided to stop taking an illegal drug should also contact their doctor or local drug rehabilitation unit as help and support are available.


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