Many people are aware of how cocaine affects you physically, but perhaps don’t know the psychology behind what it does to your mind. This is important because it has more of an effect on your brain than many people are aware of.
We at Asheville Detox want to reach out to you today about the dangers of cocaine, and help you to understand why it is so important that you let it go. No matter if you are an occasional user or if you can take an honest look at yourself and admit that you are addicted, we want to help you leave cocaine behind today.
Cocaine and Brain Neurotransmitters
Using cocaine brings about long-term changes in your brain. Animal studies prove this to be the case. When exposed to cocaine, the brain releases increased levels of the neurotransmitter called glutamate. Basically, what happens is the brain is flooded with this feel-good chemical, and your pleasure signals are triggered.
This response usually happens naturally when you participate in activities such as exercise, meditation, sex, and more. Small amounts of dopamine are usually released, but when you use cocaine, the brain is overtaken with dopamine.
However, what happens with long-term use is that your brain quickly becomes used to these high levels of dopamine as they build up inside of the brain. Balance in the brain is also thrown off by suppressing other neurotransmitters that include norepinephrine and serotonin.
Brain Damage From Cocaine Use
When you use cocaine, there is potential for your brain to be damaged in three different ways:
- Impaired function in your orbitofrontal cortex. This is the area of your brain that is responsible for helping you make decisions. The more cocaine that you use, the more difficult it may be for you to make intelligent decisions.
- Modifications in gene expression. This is how your brain turns your DNA into protein. This is the area of your brain that is in charge of learning and memory. It changes your association of what is enjoyable to you, and your brain learns to associate cocaine with pleasure. At this point, it has dropped its defenses against the drug. This is where compulsive behavior and addiction come into play.
- Cocaine use can actually reduce the amount of grey matter in your brain. Grey matter is responsible for regulating how your senses take in outside information, speak, process information, make decisions and retain memories. Someone who regularly abuses cocaine loses twice as much grey matter as someone who does not.
Cocaine and the Psychology of Mental Health
There are several mental health symptoms that may be caused by using cocaine regularly. Mood swings, irritability, paranoia, depression, and overconfidence are a few commonly experienced conditions.
Due to the way that cocaine affects the pleasure centers of the brain, an individual may become addicted to it after only trying it once. No matter if it is snorted, injected, or smoked, cocaine can cause long-term damage to your mental health. Using cocaine can cause you to experience psychotic symptoms such as auditory hallucinations, restlessness, and paranoia for example. You may find it difficult to trust others, including your counselor.
Cocaine abuse causes dysfunction of neural connections in your brain. This has the potential to lead to psychiatric illnesses that cause psychosis or paranoia. Depression, anger, and aggressiveness are also common.
Studies have shown that cocaine use is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, treatment for emotional or psychological problems, and a consistent desire for instant gratification.
Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use
When an individual uses a small amount of cocaine, they will feel euphoric, mentally alert, talkative, and may feel sensitive to touch sight, and sound. They also may not feel like eating or sleeping. Snorting cocaine produces a high that lasts from 15 to 30 minutes while smoking it is a stronger high that lasts from 5 to 10 minutes.
If someone uses a large amount of cocaine, they may experience strange, violent or erratic behavior. Some users feel restless, irritable, anxious, panicked, and paranoid. Tremors, vertigo, and muscle twitches are other possibilities.
In the short term, using cocaine causes an emotional crash once the high has worn off. These periods of depression are dangerous for some, as they can last for long periods of time and can be quite severe. Some people have suicidal thoughts during their crash period.
Using cocaine can cause severe medical complications. Heart attacks are a possibility, as are seizures, strokes, and comas. Abdominal pain, headaches, and nausea are milder symptoms that may be experienced.
Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use
Using cocaine long-term can cause long-term effects on your brain that include:
- Mood swings
- Severe depression
- An increased risk for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Parkinson’s disease
- Psychosis or delirium
- Auditory hallucinations
- Permanent blood vessel damage
- Mental confusion and disorientation caused by a cognitive decline
Another problem is that with regular use, the user will develop a tolerance to cocaine. This means they will require more in order to feel the same effects as before. Should they decide to back off a little from the drug, they will experience undesirable symptoms of withdrawal, such as general displeasure and negative moods. Because of this, the user is more likely to focus on seeking out the drug instead of other areas of life that may bring natural pleasure.
Receive Help at Asheville Detox Today
If you or someone that you know is struggling with a cocaine addiction, it is critical that help comes soon. Not only will cocaine do psychological damage to your brain, but it can also kill you if you take too much of it or if you are given some that is mixed with deadly fentanyl.
We at Asheville Detox understand how difficult it can be to take that first step. However, that is all you need to do. We will handle the rest. Just give us a call and allow us to guide you back to a life that is free of addiction.