Cocaine is a stimulant. It’s a powerful drug that causes euphoria, elation, and a feeling that is hard to beat with any other drug. In fact, cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs out there because of the unequaled high that it produces.
The intoxication of ingesting cocaine includes feeling very alert, excited, powerful, and happy. Some users of cocaine describe its euphoria as equivalent to orgasm. However, the euphoria of being high on cocaine can also bring feelings of suspicion and paranoia. In fact, after awhile the high might produce anxious feelings, compulsive and repetitive behaviors, and seeing flashes of light or hallucinations.
Cocaine has significant effects on the brain and it is particularly addictive, more so than any other amphetamine. It releases chemicals in the brain that lead to higher blood pressure, a faster heartbeat, dilation of the pupils, chills, and muscular palpitations. With high doses, cocaine can cause a cardiac arrest, heart attack, stroke, or seizure. Cocaine is a controlled substance, and although it’s illegal, it continues to be used recreationally.
However, the use of cocaine among teens is particularly dangerous, primarily because the adolescent brain is still developing. Research indicates that teens are extremely vulnerable to the addictive quality of cocaine. Studies at Yale University indicate that neurons in the brain and their synaptic connections change shape when first exposed to cocaine. The structural changes point out that that the neurons are attempting to protect themselves when the presence of cocaine enters the body.
Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant. It can be taken into the body in a variety of ways, including snorting, injecting, and smoking. When cocaine is converted into crack or free base cocaine and smoked or injected directly into the bloodstream. These methods deliver the drug faster to the brain and leads to a more intense high. Because of this, these methods also have more dangerous side effects, particularly for teens.
Despite the dangers, the intoxication of cocaine can be a difficult habit to break. However, if an adolescent doesn’t free him or herself from an addiction, the consequences are severe. This is primarily true because the adolescent brain is undergoing incredible growth. Neural connections are still forming between the two hemispheres of the brain. Because of these changes, the rush of dopamine that cocaine releases is dangerous. This leads to problems and permanent alterations in the way that the brain processes dopamine in the future. According to research, because of these permanent changes in the brain, teen cocaine abuse is more likely to lead to cocaine addiction later in the life as well as addiction to other drugs that stimulate the release of dopamine. An addiction to cocaine is already challenging because of its highly addictive quality, however, with teens, the alterations that take place in the brain because of cocaine use makes this intoxication habit all too hard to break.
Furthermore, studies indicate that the continued use of cocaine include other dangers such as criminal activity, such as stealing money to maintain an addiction. Over time, a cocaine addiction could even lead to long-term life of crime.
Cocaine can be a difficult addiction from which to find sobriety, especially when use of the drug starts in adolescence. The danger of teen cocaine abuse is that it predisposes a teen to addictions later on. For this reason, the risks of continued use of cocaine are far too great.
Hicks, J.W. (2005). 50 signs of mental illness: A user-friendly guide to psychiatric symptoms and what you should know about them. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
By Robert Hunt
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