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Effects of Cocaine Abuse, its Prevention and Treatment - Research Paper Example

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Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant derived from the leaves of the shrub Erythroxylon of which over 250 species are known (Nordegren, 2002)…
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Effects of Cocaine Abuse, its Prevention and Treatment
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Effects of Cocaine Abuse, its Prevention and Treatment

Download file to see previous pages... A recent survey of 17 countries revealed that United States has the highest level of illegal cocaine use with nearly 16.2% of people in the United States having used cocaine in their lifetime (Science Daily, 2008). Cocaine is available in two chemical forms – hydrochloride salt which is taken intravenously (by vein) or intra-nasally (through the nose) and freebase which is smoked (Psychology Today, 2008). Issues Related to Cocaine Abuse Cocaine addicts are usually introduced to the drug after they have abused ‘gateway substances’ like alcohol, tobacco and marijuana. According to the national center on addiction and substance abuse (1994), 90 % of the people who tried cocaine had used all three gateway substances before moving on to cocaine. Impact on physical functioning Cocaine use can lead to some immediate physical consequences such as restlessness, euphoria and alertness (WebMD, 2008). These effects are felt within minutes of taking the drug and continue for about 20 to 120 minutes. Other physical effects include insomnia, vomiting, pupil dilation, nosebleeds, increased temperature and pulse rate and rapid breathing (WebMD, 2008). These effects are temporary and mostly disappear after a couple of hours.
Studies reveal that prolonged use of cocaine can have an overwhelming effect on the
‘pleasure centers’ in the brain (Chen, et. al., 1996). The drug interferes, alters, damages and takes control of specialized cells that regulate pleasure, well-being and mood. Therefore, regular use can destroy the brain’s ability to feel normal without cocaine. Long term use can even cause permanent biological drug addiction.
Since cocaine increases blood pleasure, heart rate, breathing and body temperature, long term use of the drug can cause cardiac and respiratory failures, strokes, coma, convulsions and death. The drug can damage the liver’s ability to detoxify blood and can reduce the production of critical enzymes needed for normal body functioning (WebMD, 2008). It can also cause liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Cocaine use results in the constriction of the blood vessels of the heart resulting in increased blood pressure. This can trigger heart attack, heart failure, irregular heart beat and sudden death. Use of non-sterile needles among cocaine users can result in contracting Hepatitis – a highly contagious disease resulting in serious liver damage and AIDS. Users may also pass these diseases to their sexual partners, unborn babies and others. Regular users of cocaine experience loss of interest in sex, decreased sexual performance and risk of impotence and infertility (WebMD, 2008). In women, the drug use can result in miscarriages, developmental disorders and complications during birth. It can also cause premature separation of placenta from uterus leading to premature births or stillbirths. Smoking cocaine damages the ability of the cells in the lung to process gases. This results in the user experiencing constant cough and shortness of breath. Regular use can result in respiratory failure because the brain stops sending signals to the lung muscles that control breathing and they stop working (WebMD, 2008). Impact on psychological functioning Cocaine has been found to be ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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