It is common for some people to assume that everyone who uses illegal drugs such as cocaine are automatically going to go on to develop an addiction, but this is not always the case. It is true that cocaine is a highly addictive substance but there are some individuals who manage to use it recreationally without ever becoming dependent on it. So what causes cocaine addiction and who is affected?

It is important to remember that anyone can be affected by addiction. No matter what gender, age, race or background, addiction can occur in some people and not in others – but why is that?

The Causes of Cocaine Addiction

When it comes to any type of addiction, it is important to realise that there is never one single cause. In fact, there are a number of factors that could make addiction more likely, but it must be stressed that even having all these factors does not mean addiction is a certainty. The truth is that no one really knows what causes cocaine addiction and there is no way to know for sure who will be affected and who will not. What is more certain, however, is that the longer a person abuses illegal drugs such as cocaine, the more likely that he or she is to become dependent on it.

Continued abuse of cocaine can lead to changes in the brain’s chemistry. This means that the affected individual’s behaviour will change and he or she will probably notice an increased ‘need’ for the drug. The person’s every waking moment will be consumed with either taking the drug or thinking about taking it. They may begin to experience behavioural changes and even symptoms of psychosis.

Factors That Increase the Likelihood of Cocaine Addiction

While there is no single identifiable cause of cocaine addiction, the following factors are known to increase the likelihood of it developing:

  • Genes – Those with a family history of addiction are more likely to go on to develop it themselves. The risk increases the closer the relationship is. For example, those with a biological parent who has an addiction are five times more likely to be affected than those who do not.
  • Trauma – It is said that traumatic experiences can lead to addiction. Many people who have suffered with traumatic events – such as being bullied, the death or incarceration of a parent, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse or living with a mentally ill parent – have increased risk of addiction. The more trauma a person experiences, the higher the chance that he or she will suffer with addiction.
  • Poor Mental Health – There is a close link between mental health problems and addiction. Conditions such as chronic depression and anxiety disorder are often relieved with substances such as alcohol or cocaine. However, these substances only provide temporary relief. The longer a person abuses drugs or alcohol, the more likely it is that he or she will go on to develop an addiction and be given a dual diagnosis of addiction and mental health problems.
  • Early Exposure – The earlier a person is exposed to drugs such as cocaine, the higher the chance that he or she will suffer with addiction.

What are the Effects of Cocaine Addiction?

There are both short- and long-term consequences of abusing drugs like cocaine. Immediate effects of the drug include an intense feeling of pleasure or euphoria. Nevertheless, the effects of cocaine do not last for very long and there is a strong temptation in users to take more of the drug to prolong the high and delay the inevitable crashing comedown that occurs.

As the user tends to suffer with depression as the effects of the drug wear off, most will continue taking it until it runs out. This can quickly lead to addiction, especially because intense cravings tend to occur after the effects wear off. Those who regularly abuse cocaine are unlikely to get enough sleep. They will probably experience an increased heart rate and pulse, and many will suffer from convulsions.

Short-term effects of cocaine abuse include:

  • raised body temperature
  • increase heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • dilated pupils
  • irregular sleep patterns
  • rapid breathing
  • nausea
  • erratic behaviour
  • depression
  • paranoia
  • anxiety
  • convulsions or seizures.

The effects of cocaine abuse are not only short-term though; there are many long-term consequences associated with cocaine addiction. As the individual continues to abuse cocaine, his or her body will adapt to its presence. This is known as tolerance and will result in changes to how the body is affected by the drug. It is likely that, over time, the individual will notice a change in the pleasurable effects as the body produces less feel-good chemicals. As the user becomes increasingly more dependent on the drug, it will begin to have negative side effects that can result in poor health. Long-term side effects of cocaine abuse include:

  • kidney damage
  • liver damage
  • lung problems
  • heart disease
  • malnutrition
  • respiratory failure
  • sexual problems
  • severe dental problems
  • psychosis
  • chronic depression.

How to Overcome a Cocaine Addiction

It is true that a cocaine addiction is one of the most difficult to overcome, and the reason for this is the fact that intense cravings for the substance can occur periodically, even months after quitting. Many recovering cocaine addicts will find detox an arduous process, and without the right help and support, many find they return to drug use.

It is essential to enrol in a good detox programme followed by rehabilitation if you are to have a strong and stable recovery from a cocaine addiction. Many addicts believe that getting clean is enough when it comes to beating addiction, but the reality is that this illness is a complicated one with both physical and psychological consequences. Both aspects must be addressed in order to have any chance at a full recovery, and while detox will help with the physical side of the illness, it does little to solve the psychological; for that, a rehab programme is required.

If you or a loved one needs help for a cocaine addiction, contact us here at Liberty House Clinic. We have a team of professional counsellors and therapists who can help you to beat this addiction once and for all. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today for advice and information on how we can help.