America came to know cocaine addiction and abuse intimately in the 1980s. The drug was heavily marketed. It had a strong hype. People believed that this illegal drug could do miracles. It made people feel like superheroes and as if they could do anything. Its use spread like wildfire across the U.S.
It didn’t help that there were reports that the CIA turned a blind eye to smugglers. In some cases, they even aided and abetted them instead of arresting them.
After the 80s, hype surrounding this illicit substance started to die down. Many drug addicts started to turn to other drugs, like marijuana or opioids. Prescription opioids and opiates were becoming more and more easily accessible. Many doctors didn’t realize how addictive they were, and would prescribe them like crazy.
In recent years, coke has been making a huge comeback. In fact, it is one of the most commonly abused substances among women in Colorado. It’s often used among college students and party-goers. After all, it is a party drug. This narcotic is just as dangerous as before. A single use can lead to addiction, and overdoses can be fatal. Cocaine is often mixed with other addictive substances, like fentanyl, so it’s more potent. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the killer comeback of this 80s drug.
Is Crack the Same as Cocaine?
Many people use the terms ‘crack cocaine’ and ‘cocaine’ interchangeably; however, they are completely different. While both drugs have the same parent compound, crack is much more addictive. It has a higher purity level that ranges between 75% and 100%.
Crack cocaine is essentially a freebase form of the drug. It comes with a shorter, yet more intense high that lasts about 15 minutes. It’s easier for this illicit substance to pass the blood-brain barrier and attach to receptors in the central nervous system (CNS).
Cocaine, on the other hand, produces a longer-lasting, but milder high in comparison. It’s usually snorted or injected into the body. In comparison, crack users will usually favor smoking the drug. Both drugs are also different in terms of pricing and accessibility. Cocaine is often coined as a ‘rich man’s drug’, while crack is much cheaper. One costs approximately $100 per gram, while the other costs approximately $10 per hit. Drug users often switch from coke to crack when they run out of money.
The Dangers of Abusing Coke
Cocaine is a killer. Although it may be the life of the party, it quadruples the risk of death in users between the ages of 19 to 49. A large percentage of these people die from cardiovascular-related issues. Sudden death rates are between 13 and 58 times higher than among the general population.
This narcotic does a tremendous amount of damage to the body. It strains the heart, the mind and many other essential organs. It’s easy to develop tolerance to the drug, and many addicts find themselves taking larger and larger doses to achieve the same results. This increases the risk of overdoses, which can easily become fatal.
Short-term and long-term side effects of this drug include an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. It also causes higher contractility of the left ventricle of the heart. Overall, this narcotic can diminish coronary blood flow and cause blood clots and heart arrhythmias. The damage can become permanent among long-term or heavy users.
Regular and heavy use can lead to long-term side effects. Some of these side effects are psychological and affect one’s mental health. The others are physical and can lead to permanent damage to the body and mind. The type of damage done will be influenced by how the drug is taken. Some of the most common long-term side effects include:
- A higher risk of contracting blood-borne diseases if the drug is injected
- Bowel decay due to reduced blood flow
- Damage to the kidney, heart, liver and lungs
- Development of anxiety, depression, panic attacks and other co-occurring disorders
- Loss of appetite leading to malnourishment
- Loss of smell, nosebleeds and nasal perforation if the drug is snorted
- Psychosis or delirium
To live a healthier life, addicts are encouraged to seek treatment as soon as possible. Detox helps cleanse the body and remove all traces of the drug and its metabolites. Over time, the body and mind will heal to some extent.
For those who use the drug recreationally, it’s possible for the damages to the body to heal. For chronic and heavy users, getting sober will, at the very least, stop the damages from worsening.
Signs of Cocaine Use in Women
More and more women are abusing cocaine. It’s a trend witnessed by many addiction treatment centers. The addiction runs among a younger crowd. 53% of women who seek treatment are under 30 years old. In comparison, only 25% of men are under 30 years old.
Drug addicts are usually able to hide their addiction well. Many are functioning addicts. They go about their daily routines to avoid suspicion. If a woman close to you is using the illicit substance, it can sometimes be hard to tell. Many people don’t realize that their loved ones are affected.
With that said, there are some signs of abuse that you can look for. They might not give you a conclusive answer, but they can give you an idea. These signs include:
- Constant financial problems. Cocaine is an awfully expensive drug to be hooked on. Women tend to use it in greater quantities, between $500 to $1,000 worth of product each week.
- Odd sleeping patterns. Since the drug is a stimulant, it keeps users up for long periods of time. Binge users may be up for days at a time.
- An inability to breathe out of one nostril due to nasal perforation. This happens to those who snort the drug.
- Jaw clenching. Users are constantly grinding their teeth. They may complain that their jaws hurt.
- Sexual dysfunction. Addicts are often unable to maintain arousal.
- An inability to concentrate. This happens both when the addict is on the drug and coming off of it. If the person is high, they have a hyperactive mind. When coming off of the drug, they can only concentrate on when they will get their next fix.
The biggest signs of coke dependence are behavioral changes. Addicts may tend to engage in riskier and more erratic behavior.
How Does Cocaine Affect Women Differently than in Men?
Side effects of cocaine use tend to be much more pronounced in women than men. There are gender differences when it comes to addiction. Different drugs affect different key regions of the brain. Coke affects key regions that make this narcotic more addictive to women than men.
For example, this illicit substance stimulates the right nucleus accumbens. This part of the brain is responsible for reward and motivation. Increased activity here will enhance the pleasurable effects of the drug. This increases the intensity of cravings. Coke can also slow down activity at the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. This part of the brain is responsible for cognitive control. If it’s slowed down, drug-seeking behaviors get enhanced.
In general, women tend to experience stronger cravings and more intense withdrawal symptoms when it comes to cocaine. This can help pave the road to relapse.
Since narcotics affect the different genders in unique ways, gender specific treatment may be more effective. These drug detox and rehab centers understand the struggles that each gender experiences. The treatment center has specific treatment programs and plans that deals with the unique obstacles involved.
Addiction treatment reduces the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. It also teaches patients how to manage cravings. All in all, this leads to a more comfortable and successful transition into recovery.
What Can a Gender Specific Treatment Program Achieve?
Gender specific treatment programs can help expedite recovery. It can also help make the transition much smoother and more comfortable. These treatment options can improve care for women. The behavioral therapies and counseling are geared towards problems and issues that affect women more than men. Both genders deal with stress differently. Knowing how to get through to an addict is half the battle. It’s also often one of the most difficult parts.
Gender specific treatment also addresses female-specific risk factors of addiction. They also address hormonal fluctuations and changes in the body that can really make a difference during recovery. These changes are responsible for the different ways that women experience drugs. For cocaine abuse, this is important. The narcotic affects women in a completely different way than it affects men.
In addition, most gender specific rehab centers allow only one gender. Many women find that’s it is easier for them to open up to other women. They may feel judged or may have a more difficult time relating to men when it comes to addiction.
Don’t Fall Victim to Addiction
Different eras tend to favor different drugs. In the 80s, all the hype was on cocaine. Unfortunately, it appears that this drug is making a quick comeback. Many women are turning back to coke to get their fix, especially if they like to party. Many female celebrities, like Nicole Richie and Mary J. Blige, have sought treatment for coke dependence.
If you’re a part of the party scene, you might have been offered coke already. While you might feel tempted to give this stimulant a try, you should refrain yourself from doing so. This drug is incredibly addictive. It’s easy to develop dependence and to build tolerance. Many drug users graduate to crack and other more dangerous illicit substances.
Those who use cocaine recreationally or more often than they’d like to admit should consider getting help. Here, at Denver’s Women Recovery, we offer many different types of treatment options, and even programs that are gender specific. We can help you detox from either drug in a safe way. We can also help you learn how to manage and deal with an addiction. It’s a process that can take a lifetime.