Is Cocaine Addictive? Physical And Mental Addiction
Cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs on the market. This is due to the ways in which it reshapes the brain to become dependent on it. While it affects the body as well, the most prevalent form of addiction to this drug is caused by the mental changes it brings.
While often dismissed as a party drug used recreationally, cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug.
Cocaine addiction can affect the body and mind in a variety of different ways. The side effects of this drug can vary depending on the form of cocaine that is used, but all can lead to addiction.
The nature of cocaine addiction and abuse is somewhat unique among addictive substances, as it affects the brain much more acutely than the body.
However, physical addiction to this substance is still possible, and both the physical and mental side effects of cocaine use can be severe.
Read on to learn more about what makes cocaine addictive.
Why Is Cocaine Addictive?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug. This means that affects the central nervous system and stimulates nearly all metabolic functions to function faster than normal.
This substance also affects the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is an integral part of the brain’s reward system.
By blocking dopamine receptors from absorbing the neurotransmitter, it causes a flood of this chemical in the brain. This is what causes its euphoric effects.
Cocaine also rewires the brain to crave cocaine and degrades all mental connections to other forms of pleasure, which can lead to cocaine dependence.
How Addictive Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is considered to be an incredibly addictive substance. Along with drugs such as fentanyl, methamphetamine, and amphetamines like Adderall, it is a Schedule II class drug.
Physical Addiction To Cocaine
While physical tolerance to cocaine is common, most of the cravings associated with cocaine substance use disorder are psychological.
Some people find that they crave the changes cocaine makes to their bodies. This can include increased energy and suppressed appetite (which is why cocaine can cause weight loss).
However, the feelings people are looking for wear off quickly, and are followed by a crash in energy levels, low mood, and many other symptoms.
Some people immediately start taking cocaine again to relieve these feelings, starting a binge. This reinforces the behavior and makes cravings stronger.
Physical Side Effects Of Cocaine Abuse
As a result of cocaine addiction, a person may experience many unpleasant and even dangerous physical side effects.
Here are just some of the long term and short term effects cocaine can have on the body:
- Cocaine can cause heart problems (high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack, and increased or irregular heart rate are common).
- Cocaine is linked to nasal problems (runny nose, nosebleeds, irritation, and cellular death of nasal tissue happen regularly when snorting cocaine).
- Lowered body temperature can occur due to decreased blood flow.
- Weight loss is heavily associated with cocaine use.
- People who use cocaine have an increased risk of infection, including diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Mental Addiction To Cocaine
Cocaine abuse affects the brain’s reward system. It also affects the stress response by increasing stress hormones when cocaine is not present.
This often leads to stark changes in the mental health of people who engage in this form of substance use.
Stress levels rise, making agitation, restlessness, and irritability common. Behavioral health changes due to cocaine use can even include psychosis and paranoia if left untreated.
To lessen some of these uncomfortable mental effects, a person may seek euphoria again by using cocaine.
This is what often leads to a mental dependence on the drug. Cravings for cocaine are incredibly strong once this stage of chronic use is achieved.
Physical And Mental Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
The effects of cocaine are not limited to the period of active use. Cocaine withdrawal can start to occur almost immediately after the last use of this addictive drug.
When this happens, most of the symptoms are exclusively mental and can last for months after your last dose.
Mental symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:
- agitation and restlessness
- fatigue and slowing of activity
- general feelings of discomfort
- vivid and disturbing nightmares
Cocaine Addiction Treatment At Spring Hill
Cocaine treatment programs at Spring Hill Recovery Center in New England could be the best way for yourself or a loved one to detox and achieve long-term sobriety.
Our treatment center provides inpatient drug rehab, outpatient care, individual and group therapy, and a wide variety of other drug addiction treatments.
Call our helpline today to get started receiving the help you need, and achieve the sober life you deserve.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) — Tips for Teens: The Truth About Cocaine https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Tips-for-Teens-The-Truth-About-Cocaine/PEP18-01
- National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
- National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/there-difference-between-physical-dependence-addiction
- National Institute of Health | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine Research Report: What is Cocaine? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine
- National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — What are some ways that cocaine changes the brain? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-some-ways-cocaine-changes-brain