Dangerous Effects

Using cocaine can be very dangerous, and habit-forming. The long-term effects of cocaine use lead to heart attacks, strokes, seizures, headaches, abdominal pain, ulcers, nausea, and sometimes sudden death. Cocaine use can result in damage to the kidneys and destruction of tissue in the nose. Respiratory problems, infectious disease, malnutrition, weight loss, and a heightened tolerance come with cocaine abuse. Mood swings, depression, and anxiety also accompany cocaine use.

Resulting from heavy use of cocaine, it is likely addicts will experience withdrawal symptoms and require a long-term detox when attempting to quit using. The initial withdrawal and crash can take as little as 24 hours and in severe cases sometimes last days or even weeks depending on the length and amount of consumption, everyone’s withdrawal experience is different.

The United States is known as the largest consumer of cocaine, in fact, 35.3 million Americans of or over the age 12 [source] have used cocaine. Being such a highly addictive drug, families of addicts will spend the time and money pursuing addiction treatment. Unfortunately, the addict will often time relapse during their first attempt to getting sober. Prescott House is dedicated to deterring this cycle by providing an in-depth personalized process, which has proven to be effective to an individuals recovery.

Cravings of Cocaine

Many people who have been using cocaine have a very strong desire to further abuse the dangerous drug. This is known as cocaine cravings which are common among those addicted to substances. Much of the cravings are driven by the symptoms of cocaine during substance withdrawal, while cravings are also driven by the pleasure of the cocaine high.

Cocaine and Depression

Dual-Diagnosis is the term that is most often used to describe addicts who may have an underlying mental illness. Drugs and alcohol are often used as a form of self-medication, and as such, it can lead those affected into a rabbit hole, as substance abuse only makes the mental illness worse. This can happen during both acute intoxication and during the withdrawal process when an addict removes the addictive substance (even if only briefly) from their life. The act of medicating oneself with drugs, like cocaine, allows the addict to escape from reality – if only briefly – and experience a sort of euphoria that they don’t often find in their depressive state. However, the abuse of cocaine doesn’t have any long-lasting effects on the actual disease – in this case, depression – and will generally make it worse as the effects of the drug wear off.

Drugs, like cocaine, can often lead a person without any signs of mental illness to experience the onset of symptoms for the first time. While these signs are often written off as a bad experience with the drug, the causes are well chronicled, and it often leads cocaine users into more depressive behavior, substance-induced psychosis, or even thoughts or attempts at taking his or her own life.

Abuse of cocaine in depressed individuals often lengthens the treatment and recovery process as the person using is less likely to follow through with treatment plans developed by those assisting in their recovery. Treatment for one condition without any focus on the other is almost never successful for these types of addicts. Working with professionals who have dealt with dual diagnosis in the past is often the best course of action.

Cocaine Withdrawal

Depression, anxiety, or having a dysphoric mood, is a typical reaction to cocaine withdrawal. These feelings are often very intense following the comedown of a cocaine high but tend to pass once the withdrawal stage is over. Exhaustion is expected during times of cocaine withdrawal. The lack of sleep and exhausting activity while high on cocaine, can lead to extreme exhaustion, which will worsen as the cocaine effects wear off.

Withdrawal from this intense special kind of pleasure and high, leads to agitation and intense mood changes, affecting the brain and nervous system.

Cocaine, the stimulating white powder, is smoked, snorted, and shot. This stimulant suppresses the appetite, elevates blood pressure, and is very dangerous due to its highly addictive properties.

Most cocaine comes from the Colombian Bolivian region and is also known by the street names of; blow, nose candy, flake, white boy, nose powder, white powder, and powder. It can lead to very intense addiction and can very easily result in death. An illicit substance so powerful, cocaine quickly leads to dependence which also brings along catastrophic outcomes.

Although the effects of the substance wear off in roughly 30 minutes, it is responsible for more emergency room visits than any other illegal drug. Users are known for erratic violent behavior and can suffer from serious health problems.

This drug can cause long-term kidney damage, sexual dysfunction, powerful cravings and more. While causing oxygen starvation, addiction, and severe heart problems, this powerful drug affects the heart, brain and emotional well-being, which can result in sudden death.

Using cocaine can be very dangerous, and habit-forming. It may very well to lead to a long-term and disturbing addiction.

The Dangerous Combination of Cocaine and Alcohol

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) there are approximately 1.9-million cocaine users. For the purpose of the survey “cocaine user” was deemed to mean a person who had used cocaine within the past month. Alcohol, on the other hand, is the most abused substance on the planet where over 17-million people in the United States alone suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.

Separately, both drugs are responsible for millions of substance abuse diagnoses each year, but together – while numbers of active comorbid users are decidedly lower – the two form a potent combination that is dangerous and often deadly for its users.

When mixed, this potent substance cocktail of cocaine and alcohol can actually produce a third substance – cocaethylene – that is highly toxic and often deadly.

Drug addiction clinics are becoming increasingly concerned with the chemical, and its corresponding health risks.

What is Cocaethylene?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI):

“Comorbid abuse of cocaine and alcohol is a common occurrence. Cocaethylene, the ethyl ester of benzoylecgonine, is an active metabolite formed as a result of the simultaneous use of these substances.” [source]

This formation occurs when ethyl alcohol interferes with the expulsion of cocaine from the bloodstream. The result is a toxic chemical that deposits itself in the liver and makes the combination of the two drugs far more dangerous than either of them independently. No one knows for sure exactly how toxic the drug is but laboratory studies show that the increased toxicity could be 30-percent higher than that of cocaine alone. In addition, the presence of cocaethylene actually slows down the metabolism of both the cocaethylene and both of the substances that created it, ether alcohol and cocaine.

Cocaethylene isn’t just dangerous in the liver either. Cocaethylene toxicity is also believed to be a significant factor in many cocaine-related heart attacks. The jury on this is still out, as evidence exists on both sides of the argument, but it’s worth noting that organizations like the United States government’s own Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service note that cocaethylene is likely the cause of cardiovascular damage and disease in young cocaine users.

The scariest part of cocaethylene, however, might be in how it encourages further substance abuse. Many addicts cite cocaine as one of the reasons they are able to stay up later, drink longer, and party well into the night. Because of this, the levels of toxic substances building up within the liver could easily get to dangerous levels before the individual ever realizes there is a problem.

Research suggests that those who use cocaine while drinking do so for precisely the reason stated above – to party longer, and remain “feeling” sober all while getting the euphoric feelings and diminished inhibitions that come along with heavy alcohol use. In short, the cocaine is stated to reduce the feeling that your body produces to tell you it’s time to go home.

Data also suggests that this combination can have a tendency to increase levels of aggression in those who have even moderate amounts in their system. Retrospective data points to the increased tendency for both violent thoughts and threats, both of which lead to an increase in violent occurrences amongst those that are under the influence.

We’re still studying the effects of cocaethylene on the body, but from what we already know, the use of cocaine and alcohol is responsible for producing this toxic chemical whose presence could prove deadly.

Cocaine & Antidepressants

Gaining popularity in the 80s, cocaine became the drug of glamour and power. Many people are introduced to cocaine while out at bars or parties. The stimulant effects of cocaine allow a person to stay awake longer and not feel all of the effects of alcohol, which also allows them to drink more than usual. The use and abuse of cocaine also come with a variety of severe health issues. More issues arise when a person is using cocaine in combination with antidepressants. Many addicts abuse drugs because they suffer from an underlying mental illness. While mixing cocaine with pharmaceutical drugs is common, most addicts don’t understand the dangers of using drugs with different types of medications.

What Happens when a Person Combines Cocaine and Antidepressant Medications?

Antidepressants commonly come in the form of medications like tricyclics, venlafaxine or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOIs). Some of these medications include fluoxetine and paroxetine. When combining these types of medications with the use of cocaine, the enzymes in the liver don’t function properly. The liver is designed to help detoxify the body, but when the enzymes are inhibited, there is the potential for the toxicity that passes through the liver is getting into the person’s system. When the liver doesn’t do its job, the person can become very ill, and their skin can become discolored.

Mixing cocaine with antidepressants also increases the risk of seizures. Unlike many other drugs, stimulants like cocaine affect the brain more than it does the rest of the body. When cocaine is used in combination with antidepressants, risk of seizures is higher due to the antidepressant effects being stimulated. The mixture of these two substances can also lead to electrolyte imbalances as well as various medical injuries. Some people also suffer from serotonin syndrome, which can include symptoms like muscle twitching, sweating, fever, increased heart rate, agitation and confusion.

What To Look For

Those who use cocaine are often very social and outgoing in group settings, which is a stark contrast to depression. Depression often finds those affected unable to leave the confines of their own home, and rarely do they find comfort in the company of others. Depressed individuals often have trouble sleeping, changes in eating habits, show tendency to be shy and withdrawn, and may completely cut off contact with friends and loved ones. Those suffering from depression aren’t necessarily “sad”, but they will experience changes in mood and personality.

The stark contrast between the two personalities is the simplest way to spot those suffering from a dual diagnosis-type condition. While there are other common diagnoses – most notably bipolar disorder – the happy-go-lucky friend who turns quiet and withdrawn when not using is typically one that is suffering from addiction and depression.

Recovery Methods

Those suffering from cocaine addiction and depression must find a specialist who caters to both ailments. Treating just the drug addiction, or just the mental health side of the spectrum is often futile, as the other side of the dual diagnosis will lead the user back to drugs, or into depressive behavior. Treatments that focus on both symptoms are the most effective in these sorts of cases.

Common treatment methods involve the use of therapy and prescription drugs to combat the depression, as well as group sessions and substance abuse counseling to treat the cocaine addiction.

How Prescott House Can Help

Finding treatment experts who specialize in dual diagnosis greatly increases your chance for a successful recovery plan. Our experienced experts have dealt with countless dual diagnosis cases, and we can help to custom tailor a treatment plan for each individual’s specific case. With combination therapy, we’ve seen great success when it comes to leading men with cocaine and mental illness symptoms into healthy, happy and well-adjusted individuals. The change won’t happen overnight, but through hard work and steady progress, we’re confident that we can bring about great change in your – or your loved one’s – life. Contact us with any questions about addiction, mental illness, dual diagnosis, or therapy options.

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mike-mcinnes    zach-lindley
Mike McInnes      Zach Lindley