Why Cocaine Is so AddictiveAs one of the most addictive drugs a person can consume, it doesn’t take much for someone to get hooked on it quickly. As of 2016, approximately 1.9 million Americans are cocaine users. Cocaine is a stimulant drug. It’s derived from the South American coco plant and is manufactured to create a white powder or a rock, which is called crack cocaine. As a stimulant, cocaine causes the body to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter related to pleasure that creates an intense high after it’s snorted, injected, or smoked. People who consume the drug feel a sense of euphoria and excitement. They feel awake and alert. However, the effects of the drug are short-lived. Once the user comes down from their high, they’ll start to experience extreme fatigue (both mental and physical) and may even become depressed. The brain likes the feel-good dopamine hit, so it invokes powerful cravings for the drug. Thus begins a vicious binge cycle that only makes the addictive hold ever stronger.
Cocaine Withdrawal – What Symptoms to Expectcocaine withdrawal info graphic A cocaine user can begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within 90 minutes following their last “hit.” According to researchers, cocaine withdrawal happens in three phases.
The CrashThe first phase can happen rapidly, especially if someone is a heavy user of the drug. They’ll often experience:
- Dysphoria (a profound state of dissatisfaction or uneasiness)
- Exhaustion and craving sleep
- Increased appetite
WithdrawalDuring the withdrawal phase, the person will start to crave cocaine again. They won’t be able to concentrate and feel exhausted. The irritability experienced during the crash is typically carried forward into this phase of cocaine withdrawal.
ExtinctionWithdrawal from cocaine ends with extinction, which means that the user has intermittent cravings, often caused by external cues (like smells, being around other users, etc.). Other symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can include:
- Slowed thinking
- Vivid nightmares
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle aches
- Nerve pain
- Inability to feel pleasure, including sexual arousal
- Suicidal thoughts or actions