Dangers of Recreational Cocaine Use Among Young Adults

Recently, recreational cocaine use among adolescents and young adults has normalized. It’s not an extraordinary drug to use in trendy and innovative clubs anymore. Although alcohol and marijuana are used more often, cocaine use and abuse are steadily growing among young adults. And according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine use is the highest its been in a decade. Considering the high potential for addiction, this casual drug use has a high possibility of becoming a life-threatening addiction.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an intensely addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant that is native to South America. It has short- and long-term health effects and the risk of serious harm increases when it’s combined with: 

The most frequent and severe health consequences of recreational cocaine use and overdose include strokes and heart attacks, which can be fatal.

Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?

This powerful stimulant is usually snorted as a white powder. This causes a wide range of effects including a very intense “high,” which can make people want to use it over and over again until they develop a dependence and addiction. There are several reasons why cocaine is so addictive to a lot of people. But it’s primarily due to the high it gives users, particularly people who use it regularly.

Normally, the effects of cocaine are felt about 5 to 30 minutes after snorting it and lasting about 20 to 30 minutes. Because it’s such an intense high and the effects are so strong when they subside, the person wants to use more cocaine to experience the high again as soon as possible.

In turn, this means that tolerance to cocaine builds very quickly and the withdrawal from cocaine becomes more intense. That means that people discover that they need to consume more and more cocaine, more frequently, to achieve the effects they crave. This is how the casual, recreational cocaine user becomes an addict. 

How Cocaine Affects the Brain

Cocaine sends high levels of dopamine (a natural chemical messenger in your body) into the parts of your brain that control pleasure. The buildup causes intense feelings of energy and alertness. However, the more it is used, the more the brain adapts to it. Eventually, stronger doses are needed to feel the same high. Stronger, more frequent doses can cause long-term changes in the brain’s chemistry, making it harder to think, sleep, and recall from memory. 

Short-Term Effects of Recreational Cocaine Use

  • Extreme sensitivity to sound, touch, and light
  • Intense happiness and energy
  • Feeling annoyed or distrustful
  • Loss of appetite or upset stomach
  • High body temperature

Long-Term Effects of Recreational Cocaine Use

  • Headaches
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
  • Problems with moods
  • Sexual problems
  • Damage to lungs
  • Hepatitis or HIV if injecting
  • Bowel decay if swallowed
  • Loss of smell, nosebleeds, runny nose, and problems swallowing if snorted

Why Is Recreational Cocaine Use Especially Dangerous for Young Adults?

The brains of young people continue to grow and develop until their mid-20s–particularly the area of the brain that is used to make decisions. Using any drugs when young can interfere with the developmental processes going on in the brain, including decision-making. This may make them more likely to engage in risky behaviors like unsafe sex and dangerous driving.

Also, the earlier people start using drugs, the higher their likelihood of continuing to use them and becoming addicted later in life. Using drugs while young can contribute to developing adult health problems like heart disease, sleep disorders, and high blood pressure.

A study by NIH (National Institutes of Health) of a large group of young adults was done to determine how cocaine users are different from nonusers. Many differences were found regarding social, characteristics, use of other drugs, and deviant behaviors and attitudes. And the differences increased with greater involvement with the drug. 

Differences Between Users and Nonusers

The largest differences noted were regarding cocaine users:

  • Having more problems in successfully taking on adult role responsibilities
  • Having a higher use of other drugs
  • Taking part in more deviant behaviors
  • Tending to become involved with other drug users
  • Having generally poor physical and emotional health 
  • Feeling a lower satisfaction with life

Why Do Young Adults Use Cocaine?

They use it for the same reasons they may use other drugs. These are:

  • To fit in
  • To feel good
  • To feel better
  • To do better in sports or school
  • To experiment

Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Little Creek Recovery

Without professional help, recovery from cocaine addiction can be very difficult. Cocaine cravings are unrelenting and cocaine addiction is often made more complicated by other factors. That is most people who abuse cocaine use multiple substances and frequently have co-occurring disorders such as bipolar disorder or depression. These should also be treated during addiction treatment.

Treatment Programs

Little Creek Recovery can provide you or a loved one inpatient, round-the-clock treatment as well as several outpatient programs. We know that an individualized program is essential for a successful recovery. That’s why we offer recreational therapy, an adventure program, and treatment for dual diagnoses.

Behavioral Treatment

Many behavioral treatments have been proven to be effective for stimulant abuse in both outpatient and residential treatment situations. Often, behavioral therapies are the only available effective treatment for many addiction problems, including cocaine abuse. At Little Creek, we have trained therapists experienced in Cognitive and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. In addition to behavioral therapies, we can also provide individual, group, and music therapy

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medications are sometimes used along with behavioral therapy. Using the medication Disulfiram in combination with behavioral treatment has been effective in helping people maintain abstinence. This is another service Little Creek Recovery can provide for you. We are waiting to hear from you. Contact us today.

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18554894/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3496739/

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