Cocaine usually tops the list when it comes to common illicit drugs. It is a powerful stimulant that is frequently abused and is highly addictive. Users typically snort the drug in powder form, but it can also be turned into a liquid and injected or into a rock and smoked. Cocaine users typically experience a sense of euphoria immediately after taking the drug. This blissful feeling is what makes users want to take the drug again and again, which leads to abuse and addiction.
Cocaine is not physically addictive, meaning there are no physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it, as is the case with many other illicit drugs. This is one of the most misleading cocaine abuse facts, because many people think this means they can’t become addicted to it. A study by the Substance Abuse and Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) reports that up to half of drug-related visits to emergency rooms in the United States are related to cocaine abuse. Even casual use can lead to a cocaine problem, but help is available.
What Adverse Effects Does Cocaine Have on Health?
Abusing cocaine has a variety of adverse effects on the body. For example, cocaine constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also cause headaches and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine tends to decrease appetite, chronic users can become malnourished as well.
Different methods of taking cocaine can produce different adverse effects. Regular intranasal use (snorting) of cocaine, for example, can lead to loss of the sense of smell; nosebleeds; problems with swallowing; hoarseness; and a chronically runny nose. Ingesting cocaine can cause severe bowel gangrene as a result of reduced blood flow. Injecting cocaine can bring about severe allergic reactions and increased risk for contracting HIV and other blood-borne diseases. Binge-patterned cocaine use may lead to irritability, restlessness, and anxiety. Cocaine abusers can also experience severe paranoia—a temporary state of full-blown paranoid psychosis—in which they lose touch with reality and experience auditory hallucinations.
Regardless of the route or frequency of use, cocaine abusers can experience acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies, such as a heart attack or stroke, which may cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest or seizure followed by respiratory arrest
What Is Narcotic Abuse?
One of the most frequent reasons people go to the doctor is for pain relief. There are a number of different drugs that can ease pain.
Opioids -- also called opiates or narcotics -- are pain relievers made from opium, which comes from the poppy plant. Morphine and codeine are the two natural products of opium. Synthetic modifications or imitations of morphine produce the other opioids:
- Heroin (street drug
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
- Percocet, Percodan, OxyContin (oxycodone)
- Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab (hydrocodone)
- Demerol (pethidine)
- Duragesic (fentanyl)
When people use narcotics only to control pain, they are unlikely to become addicted to the drugs. However, opioids provide an intoxicating high when injected or taken orally in high doses. Opioids are also powerful anxiety relievers. For these reasons, narcotic abuse is one of the most common forms of drug abuse in the U.S.
Symptoms of Narcotic Abuse
Signs and symptoms of opioid abuse include:
- Analgesia (feeling no pain)
- Euphoria (feeling high)
- Respiratory depression (shallow or slow breathing)
- Small pupils
- Nausea, vomiting
- Itching or flushed skin
- Slurred speech
- Confusion or poor judgment
Heroin Abuse Signs, Symptoms and Addiction Treatment
Heroin is an opiate drug that is derived from morphine. Morphine is found in the seed pods of Asian opium poppy plants. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin is ingested in several ways, such as through injection, snorting and smoking. Regardless of the method of abuse, heroin addiction often occurs as a result of frequent use.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Individuals who abuse heroin may exhibit a number of signs and symptoms . However, not all abusers will react to the drug in the same way. While signs and symptoms of abuse may vary from person to person, most people exhibit certain symptoms and behavior indicative of an abuse problem. Signs of heroin abuse include:
- Behavioral changes
- Hyperactivity followed by fatigue
- Irresponsibility at work or school
- Wearing long shirts and pants even during warm weather
- Increased sleeping
- Slurred speech
- Track marks on arms or legs
- Weight loss
- Constant runny nose
- Scabs or bruises due to picking at the skin
Effects of Heroin Abuse
Heroin can have a devastating impact on a user’s body and overall life. Immediately after taking heroin, many users feel a “rushing” sensation of the drug entering the brain. Many people seek out heroin due to the quickness at which the drug enters the brain. Certain users of the drug also report the following effects after taking the drug:
- Heavy extremities
- Dry mouth
- Severe itching