How Harmful Is Cocaine to One’s Health?
The number of people who abuse cocaine in the United States is declining. That’s due, in part, to legislative action. According to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, countries long known as major producers of cocaine have put innovative strategies in place that have reduced the amount of cocaine available for purchase. That could mean that fewer people are taking cocaine because they simply can’t get it anymore.
But it’s possible that those declining numbers are due to the courageous efforts of people who are addicted, and the families that love them. After all, each person who makes the decision to quit brings usage numbers in the U.S. down. Every little step helps the whole country heal.
While people quit using for a number of reasons, when it comes to cocaine, many of those prompts have to do with health. That’s because cocaine is an incredibly damaging substance that can ruin vital systems within the body, especially if the abuse continues for a long period of time.
If you’re abusing cocaine, it might be hard to even consider quitting, but continuing to use the drug could be really hard on your body. Here’s what cocaine can do, and why you should think about entering a treatment program that can help:
Mental Health Effects
When cocaine enters the bloodstream and brain, it triggers a series of chemical reactions that create a sense of euphoria. The circuits that normally regulate feelings of pleasure are overloaded, and the signals they normally send are amplified.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, long-term cocaine abuse can cause some of those circuits to “burn out” and become a lot less effective. They’ve been strained and pushed for too long, and they simply cannot function at an ideal level. When that happens, it’s common for those who use cocaine to feel:
These sorts of changes can lead to relapse, if individuals return to drugs to feel a hint of emotion. These changes can also make it difficult for them to think about entering a rehab program. They’ve lost the capacity for hopefulness, so they may not understand how and why their lives will get better.
- Running to catch a bus
- Lifting groceries
- Having sex
- Picking up a child
Changes in Body Fat
While a gastrointestinal problem could make people lose weight, particularly if the issue impacts the body’s ability to pull nutrients and sugars out of food, cocaine also seems to have the ability to change the way the body actually digests food and stores it for later, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge.
It’s been long assumed that people who use cocaine simply don’t take in enough food to keep their bodies nourished, and as a result, they tend to become alarmingly thin. Researchers at Cambridge found that people who use and abuse cocaine actually should weigh much more, as they tend to eat high-fat, high-calorie foods while they’re under the influence. And yet, their bodies don’t seem to process the food in the right way, and they get thinner and thinner.
American culture tends to place a high value on losing weight and staying thin. It’s a goal most people in this country work very hard to achieve. But a very low body weight could come with unintended consequences. It can make pregnancy harder, for example, and those who are alarmingly thin sometimes struggle with broken bones after minor falls. A severe dip in weight can also impact the heart, the liver, and the kidneys. For some, it can be quite serious.
Recovery Really Is Possible
It’s clear that the long-term use of cocaine is very hard on vital systems. Each hit that you take could be simply catastrophic to your long-term health. But it’s also clear that you can recover from a cocaine addiction. In a comprehensive treatment program, you can learn how to handle the triggers that seem to push you to use, and you can learn how to focus on sources of pleasure that have nothing to do with drugs. You can connect with others who use, and you can draw upon the strength of those who have recovered. You can also work with a medical team on your physical health, so you can feel good in your body once more.
In 2008, about 3.2 percent of all people who entered substance abuse treatment programs did so because they were addicted to cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
You’re not alone. You can join a group of courageous people and get your life back on track once more. At The Recovery Village, we’d like to help you. We offer a multidisciplinary approach to substance abuse recovery, meaning that we think it takes a village of professionals to help each client improve. Our work begins with a comprehensive evaluation, followed by the development of a specialized treatment program. You’ll be offered therapy that’s just right for you and your history, and your program will change as you change.
We know that choosing the right program is important, and we want you to be comfortable with your decision. Just call us, and we’ll answer any questions you have. We’re here 24 hours a day, and the call is free. We hope to hear from you soon.