Cocaine Still Tops Most Abused Drug List

Written by Journey Pure Staff

While the opioid epidemic most certainly dominates the headlines and hospital beds, cocaine still tops the list as one of the most abused drugs. While its use peaked during the crack epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s and has declined over the last decade, cocaine remains the second most popular illicit drug in the U.S., behind marijuana.

What is Cocaine?

Derived from the South American cocoa plant Erythoxylon, the original intent for cocaine was a good one. In fact, in its purified form, it was once deemed the “miracle drug” for its use as a local anesthetic and thousands of other medical uses, including treatment for morphine addiction. Until 1903, cocaine could even be found in Coca Cola soft drinks. But once the addictive properties were revealed, use became restricted and eventually banned in the U.S. for non-medical use. Today, there are so many alternatives that the use of cocaine in medical circumstances is rare.

Who is Using Cocaine?

At its peak, Cocaine was associated with affluent, white-collar professionals who could afford the high price tag. It was a high society party drug. Crack on the other hand, the free base form of cocaine, offered a much cheaper alternative and became popular in urban populations. In 2014, 913,000 Americans were found to be abusing or dependent on cocaine (in any form). A 2011 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) report linked cocaine to more than 505,000 emergency room visits out of the nearly 1.3 million overall visits. Studies show it’s not a rich drug anymore. In 2011, there were 1.4 million cocaine users – as young as 12-years-old.

What are the Effects of Cocaine?

When snorted, injected or smoked, cocaine raises the level of dopamine in the brain, which is the feel-good center. It’s easy to see why people get hooked and use the drug to get through exams or long nights at the office. With feelings of euphoria and short boosts in energy, the drug can send the self-esteem soaring.

But what goes up, must come down. And cocaine addicts come crashing down hard. These “glorious” highs will eventually lead users to long-term use side effects that include tremors, irritability, paranoia, nosebleeds, hallucinations, depression, severe bowel decay and potential for overdose. There is also an increased risk for stroke, and long-term use can send pain to the heart that mimics a heart attack, sending many to the ER.

Treatment for cocaine addiction is very different. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat cocaine addiction, though researchers are exploring a variety of neurobiological targets.” However, the addiction can be beaten. Treatment that includes behavioral and holistic therapies help reduce cravings and improve overall health and well-being.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction in Nashville

If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine dependency, we can help. Our treatment facility provides unparalleled treatment for men and women that have lost their passion and drive due to drug or alcohol abuse. Call us today to speak to an admissions representative.