Cocaine is known for being a dangerous drug, no matter how it’s taken. It’s a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that quickly results in a variety of serious health problems, if use doesn’t end in deadly overdose.
In most cases, people either snort or inject cocaine. People who smoke it tend to use the cheaper, “freebase” form of cocaine known as crack cocaine. Either one of these three methods of intake is designed to produce a “rush” – a fast and intensely euphoric high that hits all at once, followed by a short period of high activity and energy, plus a feeling of invincibility.
Smoking and injecting a drug are generally the fastest and most intense forms of intake. Smoking in particular results in a high in around a minute due to the fact that the blood goes straight from the lungs to the brain. However, this also increases the risk of developing an addiction and suffering from an overdose.
Abuse and Addiction
The vast majority of the time, any cocaine use will be considered drug abuse due to the fact that it’s illegal, except in the rare cases that it’s used for medical purposes. For the most part, cocaine is used recreationally in a bingeing pattern, meaning users take additional doses every time the effects wear off for hours or even days. It’s uncommon to just take one hit of cocaine and stop, especially since the effects from the common intake methods only last around 15-30 minutes. Bingeing like this significantly increases the risk of developing an addiction.
As abuse continues, there are also distinct signs in the form of chronic health issues. Smoking anything is hard on the lungs, and smoking crack cocaine leaves the user vulnerable to respiratory illness. In severe cases, individuals can develop pneumonia and build up fluid in their lungs, resulting in pulmonary edema and other dangerous conditions.
People who habitually inject drugs can end up with infections around the injection sites as well as collapsed veins, which can result in circulation problems. The harsh chemicals and tiny particles being injected directly into the blood can also wear on and weaken arteries and even the heart muscle, leaving users vulnerable to heart failure.
Of course, injecting drugs is also strongly correlated with the contraction of dangerous viral diseases, including hepatitis C and HIV. According to AIDS.gov, intravenous drug use was responsible for 10 percent of all new HIV cases from 2008 to 2011. This happens through needle-sharing, which is a common practice among intravenous drug users. Lowered inhibitions and poor judgment caused by cocaine contribute to this behavior.
If someone is shooting or smoking cocaine, this is a strong indication of an addiction disorder, especially if the person continues in spite of health problems. The sooner an addicted person gets into treatment, the easier it will be to begin recovery. Speaking to your primary care doctor or calling a specialized treatment center is a good place to start.