How Long Does It Take to Get Addicted to Cocaine?

cocaine abuse

Cocaine is notoriously addictive, but you may be wondering about its potential for abuse. Can you get addicted to cocaine after using it only a couple of times? The answer is more complicated than you might realize. Various factors can increase your likelihood of experiencing substance misuse issues, including your genetic makeup, medical history, overall mental health, environment and method of use. 

For example, crack cocaine can be more addictive than the powdered form of the drug. Smoking or injecting cocaine also introduces the substance into your bloodstream faster, allowing it to take effect more rapidly and putting you at a higher risk of dependence. What do you need to know about cocaine use and addiction?

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca plant. Its effects on the brain involve a rapid dopamine release that occurs quickly after use. People under the influence of cocaine experience heightened pleasure and sexual arousal, increased talkativeness and a sense of improved focus and mental acuity. 

The danger of cocaine use is how rapidly users can develop a tolerance. Because the first use of cocaine represents a novel experience for your brain, subsequent episodes of cocaine use will produce less intense results, leaving you chasing a high. While experimenting with cocaine once or even occasionally doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become addicted, any use can be dangerous and increase your risk of becoming dependent on the drug at some point. 

How Cocaine Affects Your Body

In addition to the pleasurable, energetic feelings associated with cocaine use, some unwanted side effects might include paranoia, anxiety, irritability and restlessness. Taking larger doses of cocaine or combining it with other substances such as alcohol can be especially dangerous, as users can behave erratically or violently.

Because of cocaine’s effects on the cardiovascular system, cocaine use can lead to a heart attack, even among otherwise healthy first-time users. Cocaine can dangerously elevate your blood pressure, harden your arteries and thicken the heart muscle’s walls. As with other substances, cocaine use can also cause an overdose, which may result in respiratory arrest or sudden death. The risk of an overdose increases exponentially when people combine cocaine with other drugs, such as heroin.

Long-Term Health Problems Associated With Cocaine Abuse

Aside from the high risk of addiction associated with long-term cocaine use, lasting health consequences can include extreme fatigue, chronic headaches, heart disease, seizures, significant weight loss and death. 

People who become addicted to snorting cocaine may experience nosebleeds, a lost sense of smell, frequent severe sinus infections and a perforated septum. Users who inject cocaine can develop collapsed veins, puncture marks and bloodborne diseases from unsafe injection methods.

Where to Get Help for a Cocaine Addiction

If you suspect you have a cocaine problem, Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services is here for you. We recognize drug addiction is a chronic disease requiring professional intervention. People who continue using cocaine despite all the adverse consequences may not be able to successfully quit on their own. To learn more about the conditions we treat, our levels of care and our specialized programming, please reach out to us today.

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