Addictive Drugs - Cocaine

by Mike Miller October 23, 2011

We have looked at number 10 through 3 on the top 10 most abused chemical substances and their addictive nature. Now we are down to #2 – cocaine. Do you know anyone who uses cocaine? If so, more than likely you know someone addicted to cocaine.

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant. Believe it or not, just a little more than 100 years ago it was used for medicinal purposes and was one of the ingredients used in the original formula for Coca-Cola!

Cocaine is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic. Specifically, it is a serotonin–norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor, which mediates functionality of these neurotransmitters as an exogenous catecholamine transporter ligand.

Cocaine is a powerful nervous system stimulant. Its effects can last from 15–30 minutes to an hour, depending upon the method of ingestion.

Cocaine increases alertness, feelings of well-being and euphoria, energy and motor activity, feelings of competence and sexuality. Athletic performance may be enhanced in sports where sustained attention and endurance is required. Anxiety, paranoia and restlessness are also frequent. With excessive dosage, tremors, convulsions and increased body temperature are observed

How Addictive is Cocaine?

Let’s just say it is very addictive. Basically, cocaine does things to the brain and central nervous system that make it more enjoyable, and more is needed all the time, making it highly addictive. Because of the way it affects the mesolimbic reward pathway, cocaine is addictive.

Unlike most molecules, cocaine possesses both high hydrophilic and lipophilic efficiency, violating the rule of hydrophilic-lipophilic balance. This causes it to cross the blood-brain barrier with vastly superior reinforcement than to other psychoactive chemicals.

An article in The Lancet compared the harm and addiction of 20 drugs, using a scale from 0 to 3 (with 3 being the most addictive chemical substance) for physical addiction, psychological addiction, and pleasure to create a mean score for addiction.

In this study, cocaine was the second most addictive substance, with only heroin more addictive overall. With respect to physical dependency, cocaine scored only a 1.3, which actually makes it less physically addictive than tobacco (1.8) and alcohol (1.6).

However, cocaine is extremely addictive psychologically. Cocaine scored a 2.8 for psychological dependency, only behind heroin (3.0). No other chemical substance was even close to these two – except tobacco (2.6).

Cocaine dependence is psychological dependency on the regular use of cocaine. Cocaine dependency may result in physiological damage, lethargy, psychosis, depression and fatal overdose.

This is a drug that should be avoided at all costs. Do not experiment with it. If someone you know or care about suffers from cocaine addiction please have them seek help immediately. If they want total anonymity, there are online drug classes as well.

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