Cocaine Abuse

The intense effects of cocaine as a powerful stimulant can have an overwhelming impact on a first-time user. Consequently, given the strength of the high, teen cocaine abuse can lead to long-term cocaine addiction.

What Is Cocaine Abuse?

Cocaine abuse is a result of the addictive stimulant properties of an illegal drug made from the leaves of the South American coca plant. Cocaine abuse amplifies levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates pleasure. When taken as an illegal drug, cocaine usually looks like a fine white powder. In powder form, the drug is typically inhaled (snorted) through the nose or rubbed into the gums. Cocaine powder also can be dissolved in water and injected.

Smoking cocaine, known as freebasing, fuels cocaine abuse, often leading to cocaine addiction. Cravings brought on by cocaine abuse can lead to binges in which the drug is taken repeatedly at increasingly higher doses. Such bingeing, typical of cocaine addiction, is fueled by the user’s desire to maintain the initial high that results from cocaine abuse.

Signs of cocaine use include hyperactivity, increased mental agitation, a runny nose or nosebleed, rapid heart rate, and tremors. The intoxicating effects of cocaine appear almost immediately, then disappear within a few minutes to an hour. Crack cocaine abuse is a cheaper form of freebasing in which the drug is combined with baking soda and cooked into small white rocks. Street dealers often cut cocaine with adulterants like cornstarch.

Sources: National Institute on Drug AbuseSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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