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Cocaine - Statistics, Effects, and Information

Updated on June 4, 2013

One of the Most Dangerous

Cocaine is a common illicit drug with many devastating effects to its name. The well-known narcotic is highly addictive, creating the most intense psychological dependence next to methamphetamine. It works by stimulating certain pleasure centers in the brain, causing a strong euphoria the user craves. It is most certainly a gateway drug, as tolerance develops quickly and the addict begins to take larger amounts or mix drugs to receive the same effect. It is commonly paired with heroin, various amphetamines, or even tranquilizers to do so. This can easily lead to a multiple drug habit or, at worst, prove fatal.

Street titles for cocaine vary widely and include snow, Bernice, and flake among others. The high it brings is intense, but short lived. It is followed by an equally extreme sense of depression, edginess, and desperate need for more of the drug. Users often do not eat or sleep properly, and may go long durations without either one. Their needs become focused on cocaine, not on food, sleep, or personal care. It is all consuming and very controlling. Even when the user is not high, they may still experience a strong sense of paranoia, anger, hostility, or anxiety. Depending on the amount used over time, the individual may be at a much higher risk for cardiac failure, convulsions, and other serious health concerns. It places a massive amount of stress on the central nervous system and heart, not to mention the function of the brain. Stress is very detrimental to the body in large amounts, and cocaine brings it to a much more dangerous level. The phrase ‘dope fiend’ was coined to explain this constant usage, and the sometimes psychotic behavior of those who are heavy abusers. Hallucinations can bring about manic episodes, causing the user to act very strangely or at times even violently.

Despite the strictly negative effects of cocaine, young individuals and adults alike are still easily talked into attempting the drug by dealers or friends and peers. Those looking to make a sale are often quoted claiming the drug will ‘pick you up’, ‘get you cooking’, or even ‘make your life a party’. Those who are depressed, down on their luck, or otherwise vulnerable will be more likely to listen to the advice and partake in its use. Just one attempt with the drug can prove very addictive, as the high leads straight to a strong craving to begin the cycle over again. It is like a moth to flame, as the addiction is deeply mental. Some addicts have come to the point of injecting or smoking the lethal drug every ten minutes.

Along with its drastically addictive nature, cocaine is also the second most trafficked illegal drug in the world. In the most recent statistical studies, it was found that international seizures of coke have only continued to increase to a staggering 756 metric tons. The largest amounts were intercepted from South America, while North America came in at a close second. According to the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction, cocaine is also the second most used drug in Europe. Among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34, an estimated 7.5 million have attempted cocaine at least once in their life. This leads to around 3.5 million within the last year, and 1.5 million in the past month. In the United States, the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 35.5 million American individuals aged 12 and older reported having used cocaine. Among those between the ages of 18 and 25, 6.9% of those surveyed said they had used cocaine within the past year. Around 8.5% of twelfth graders had used at some point in their lives, according to the 2006 Monitoring the Future Study via the National Institute for Drug Abuse. Also within the U.S., cocaine continues to be the most commonly reported illicit drug by hospitals reporting to The Drug Abuse Warning Network.

Clearly, juvenile abuse of this extraordinarily detrimental narcotic is the most disconcerting aspect of these statistics. However, this is not the only way they are affected. Threatening and terrifying behavior by parents can turn a household into an environment a child or teenager can fear and work to escape. If cocaine is available within the home, children or young adults may have access to the drug and accidentally overdose or become addicted themselves. It is also extremely perilous during pregnancy. In 1992, statistics showed that around 45,000 women used cocaine at some point during their pregnancy. If abuse is prevalent early in the pregnancy, it could easily cause a miscarriage. Later on in the baby’s development, it can also lead to premature birth or cause a stroke in the unborn child which could lead to severe brain damage or death. Overall, women who use during these crucial nine months are more likely to have a lower birth weight baby and a child dependent upon lifelong care. A good portion of the reason behind this is the restriction of oxygen and nutrients to the baby because of the drug’s presence in the mother’s system. This presence may also cause the placenta to pull away from the wall of the uterus before labor begins. This condition, known as Placental Abruption, can cause severe bleeding and could easily be fatal for both mother and child. Other negative effects on labor and delivery can occur as well.

In summary, cocaine is a very potent poison that can cause a number of health detriments depending on the amount consumed, time continually consumed, and method taken. From cardiac arrest to mental breakdowns, the dangers of the drug are endless and it should be avoided at all costs. If a close friend or family member is currently at risk, action early on in the cycle is much more effective than waiting until it is too late. Move to speak with them, express your concern, and subsequently move them towards a rehabilitation program as soon as possible. Building a network of support and prevention can be very successful in the long run, even as hard as it may be to get them to cooperate at the beginning. Remember, it is the drug talking and it must be silenced before the worst comes to fruition. Becoming an active participant in the recovery process and providing a solid level of assistance can mean the difference between life and death.


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      4 years ago

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