Cocaine is an extremely powerful and addictive stimulant drug. While cocaine abuse has fortunately declined since the 1980’s, it is still believed that there are still nearly 2 million people in the United States who use cocaine on a regular basis, and that about 1.5 million of them are physically dependent.
Cocaine is also the cause of about 25 percent of drug-related emergency room visits.
Once commonly used medically as a topical anesthetic, legitimate applications of cocaine have been almost entirely replaced by illicit use. As a fast-acting stimulant drug, cocaine has a sudden, powerful effect on the user. These effects can be extremely hazardous and have the potential for serious long-term health consequences, including:
- Chronic loss of appetite and malnourishment
- Difficult swallowing
- Inability to take pleasure in normal activities
- Increased risk of psychological distress and disease
- Nasal irritation or bleeding
- Poor cardiovascular function and increased risk of heart failure
Cocaine addiction is characterized by the display of continued drug seeking behavior in the face of serious negative consequences—physical, mental, financial, and otherwise.
Common signs of cocaine addiction include:
- Constant need for privacy or secrecy
- Constant fixation with acquiring and using cocaine
- Depression, social withdrawal, or suicidal thoughts and actions
- Irritability, restlessness, extreme anxiety, or paranoia