Cocaine Abuse Treatment


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Cocaine C17H21NO4is a unique chemical in that
it is both a central nervous system stimulant and an anesthetic. It is
found in the leaves of the Erthroxylum coca plant that is native to the
mountains of South America. The traditional method of coca use is to
chew the leaves, producing a mild stimulation. Outside of South America
it is generally used in its more refined and extracted forms: powder
cocaine or freebase (chemically purified cocaine) and produces much
stronger effect than chewing the leaves. It is known on the street as
“the lady”, “girl”, “white”,
“uptown” or “coke”.

As early as 3000 B.C., there is evidence of coca use in South
America. The inhabitants believed that the coca plant was a gift from
God. In the 15th century A.D. the Incas operated coca
plantations in South America. In the 1800s coca tinctures were used in
surgery and it was in the middle of that century that cocaine was first
extracted from coca leaves. In 1886, Coca-Cola was introduced,
containing cocaine and caffeine. Around the same time Parke, Davis began
to manufacture cocaine. Soon thereafter, around the turn of the century,
sniffing cocaine powder became popular. In 1914 cocaine was banned in
the U.S. under the Harrison Act which controlled the sale of opium,
opium derivatives and cocaine. 

Cocaine can be used by sniffing or injecting the powder
(dissolved in water) or by smoking a purified form (“freebase”
or “crack”) of the drug. Outside of South America, where
cocaine is chewed and absorbed by the membranes of the mouth, stomach
and intestines, cocaine is most frequently used in the form of powder.
On the street, cocaine is sold by the gram and used in greatly varying
amounts. This is due to a tolerance that builds very rapidly in regular
users. A typical dose for sniffing cocaine is between 0.05 gram and 0.20
gram. For injection and smoking the dosage amounts can differ

Cocaine increases alertness, wakefulness, elevates the mood, induces
a high degree of euphoria, decreases fatigue, improves thinking,
increases concentration, increases energy, increased irritability,
insomnia, restlessness. In large doses users often display symptoms of
psychosis with confused and disorganized behavior, irritability, fear,
paranoia, hallucinations, may become extremely antisocial and
aggressive. It increases heart rate, blood pressure, and body
temperature, temperature, pulse, and respiration, decreased sleep and
appetite, seizures, strokes, heart attacks, death.

Physical Dependence: Moderate
Psychological Dependence: Severe
Tolerance: Strong

Cocaine is highly addictive substance, at least in the psychological
sense. While the physical withdrawal is relatively short-term, the
psychological cravings associated with withdrawal can last for months.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include intense cravings for the drug,
hunger, irritability, apathy, severe depression, paranoia, suicidal
thoughts, loss of sex drive and insomnia or excessive sleep. Often, more
cocaine is taken to reduce these effects. More than one user of cocaine
has said that using the drug was more important than food, sex, friends,
family, or jobs. Their main concern was how to ease the undesirable
effects of being without the drug.

As noted above, cocaine is a highly addictive substance.
Additionally, because of the nature of cocaine addiction, the newly recovering
user is often in a somewhat depleted physical state. Because of this,
the first step to treatment is usually a detoxification done in a
hospital or medically supervised setting. After detoxification,
residential treatment or twelve-step programs, such as the ones listed
below are generally recommended.

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