Cocaine Use Disorder

Cocaine use disorder is when the use of cocaine harms a person’s health or social functioning, or when a person becomes dependent on cocaine. The powdered form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Crack is cocaine in a rock crystal form. It can be heated so its vapors can be smoked. Cocaine use disorder is treatable. But, it takes hard work. Talk to your doctor if you think you have this condition.

  • Causes

    Cocaine stimulates the brain to release large amounts of the hormone dopamine. Dopamine results in the euphoria commonly reported by cocaine abusers. As a person continues to use cocaine, a tolerance is developed. This means that higher doses and more frequent use are needed to maintain the euphoria.

    Release of Dopamine in the Brain
    neurotransmitter
    The dopamine connecting to the receptors causes a euphoric feeling. This occurs naturally, but cocaine causes an exaggerated response that can lead to addiction.
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    When a cocaine user stops using abruptly, a crash or withdrawal occurs. This results in an extremely strong craving for more cocaine. It also results in fatigue, loss of pleasure in life,
    depression,
    anxiety, irritability, suicidal thoughts, and sometimes paranoia. These withdrawal symptoms often prompt the user to seek more cocaine.

  • Definition

    Cocaine use disorder is when the use of cocaine harms a person’s health or social functioning, or when a person becomes dependent on cocaine. The powdered form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Crack is cocaine in a rock crystal form. It can be heated so its vapors can be smoked.

    Cocaine use disorder is treatable. But, it takes hard work. Talk to your doctor if you think you have this condition.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will ask specific questions about your cocaine use, including how long you have been using the drug and how often.

  • Prevention

    The best way to prevent cocaine use disorder is to never use cocaine. It is highly addictive.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chances of getting cocaine use disorder include:

    • Age: 18-25
    • Sex: males

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms associated with cocaine use disorder include:


    • Short-term effects include:

      • Euphoria
      • Increase in energy
      • Excessive talking
      • Being mentally alert
      • Decreased need for food and sleep
      • Dilated pupils
      • Increased temperature
      • Increased heart rate
      • Increased blood pressure
      • Bizarre, erratic, or violent behavior
      • Vertigo
      • Muscle twitches
      • Paranoia

      • Restlessness, irritability, and
        anxiety
      • Heart attack
      • Seizures
      • Sudden death

    • Long-term effects include:

      • Cravings that can't be controlled or predicted
      • Increased tolerance
      • Increased dosing
      • Use of cocaine in a binge
      • Increased irritability, restlessness, and paranoia
      • Paranoid psychosis
      • Hearing sounds that aren't there

    • Medical complications include:

      • Heart rhythm abnormalities
      • Heart attack
      • Chest pain
      • Respiratory failure
      • Stroke
      • Seizure
      • Headache
      • Abdominal pain
      • Nausea
      • Chronic runny nose or septal perforation

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment programs may be inpatient or outpatient and may:

    • Require that you have already stopped using cocaine
    • Involve a detoxification program