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Yes, a person can develop an addiction to cocaine. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines addiction as “a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence.” Addiction, clinically known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a complex, chronic brain disorder that can wreak havoc in all areas of one’s life. Though cocaine, also knowns as coke, was originally developed as a painkiller, it is now classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule II Substance, which are “drugs, substances, or chemicals [that] are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Cocaine is a highly addictive, fast-acting central nervous system stimulant. 

Cocaine Basics

Cocaine is an illegal, unregulated drug that is used recreationally. It is made from the leaves of a plant that is native to South America, called the coca plant. In its purest form, it looks like a fine white powder, resembling flour or talcum powder. The powder is frequently mixed with other substances such as sugar, cornstarch, and talcum powder and/ or laced with other drugs (e.g., amphetamines). It can be ingested via the nasal cavity (sniffed), intravenously (injected), inhaled (as smoke or vapor), and/ or rubbed into one’s gums. Because cocaine is an illicit substance, the exact ingredients included in each batch are left solely to the discretion of the manufacturer. This means that the consumers have no way of truly knowing the precise potency of the substance they are ingesting, which can be incredibly dangerous. 

How It Is Addictive

The way cocaine works in one’s body is by sending increased levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain cells) to areas of the brain that reign pleasure, resulting in an excess buildup of dopamine, that then elicits feelings of energy, alertness, and euphoria in the user. An individual that abuses cocaine is in effect continuously interfering with his or her brain’s natural communication process. Repeated exposure to cocaine triggers alterations to neurons in the brain, causing the body to develop a tolerance, which leads the user to require more of the drug to achieve the same desired effects, crave the substance when it’s not present in the body, and ultimately become dependent on the drug to function.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long-lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment-related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.