Cocaine: the Social Drug

Coca leaves were a source of energy for ancient Incas dating back to three thousand years before Christ. Cocaine was first extracted from coca leaves in 1859 by German chemist Albert Nieman, but it was not until the 1880s that it became popular in the medical community.

Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, who used cocaine himself, was an early supporter of the properties of the drug, in spite of the fact that some people he prescribed it to became addicted and in one case died. Other notable enthusiasts included Thomas Edison and actress Sarah Bernhardt.

In the 1900s cocaine became a commonly used social drug until in 1912 when cocaine addiction was surging and there were 5,000 reported deaths from the drug. By 1922 it was illegal. It made huge resurgence in the 1970s among entertainers and professionals and has been going strong ever since.

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Rampant Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is the second most trafficked drug in the world and cocaine addiction is prevalent. It is still considered one of the most socially acceptable drugs and is often used at parties and clubs.

Like its cousin, methamphetamine, the poor man’s cocaine, cocaine creates one of the most ardent psychological dependences of any drug and is highly addictive. Like many drugs, the addict begins to develop a greater and greater tolerance to the drug needing more and more to attain the same level of euphoria. It is often mixed with other drugs like alcohol, marijuana, heroin and amphetamines, making the potential for a fatal event even greater.

Cocaine delivers an intense, but brief high, requiring continuous use. As the high wears off the user experiences edginess and depression and deep cravings for more of the drug. Heavy users of cocaine quickly end up spending hundreds, even thousands of dollars on their weekly habit.

Recovering from an Addiction to Cocaine

The term “dope fiend” was originally coined to refer to those with a serious addiction to cocaine, their unusual lust for the drug and the frequency with which they needed to use it and the panic they experienced when they ran out of the drug and needed more.

Over extended periods of regular use cocaine has a profound effect on the brain and how it functions, interfering with the way the brain processes chemicals. A serious addict can easily become psychotic, experience hallucinations and even commit suicide.

Other effects of long-term use include damage to blood vessels of the heart and brain, high blood pressure leading to heart attack or stroke, liver, kidney and lung damage, respiratory failure, severe tooth decay and more.

Due to the intensely addictive nature of the drug, cocaine addiction is one of the most difficult to treat. There are a multitude of programs available, but a long-term recovery plan must be the first consideration. It is best to speak to an expert in the area of addiction for advice on how to achieve lasting recovery.