Cocaine addiction is a serious condition that is difficult to treat effectively due to its addictive properties. Clinically it can be used as a local anesthetic though it is more often used recreationally. It is used recreationally by those with cocaine addiction because it is a stimulant of the central nervous system giving rise to what has been described as a euphoric sense of happiness and increased energy. This sense of well-being and contentment is a result of cocaine’s positive effect on the brain’s reward system. Continued stimulation of this centre can cause cocaine addiction.
Cocaine in its purest form is a white, pearly product. Street market cocaine is frequently altered or “cut” with various powdery fillers to increase its weight before sale to those with cocaine addiction. The commonly added compounds in this process are baking soda, sugars and local anesthetics which mimic or add to cocaine's numbing effect on mucous membranes. Cocaine may also be "cut" with other stimulants such as methamphetamine or more dangerously, strong toxins producing vasodilatory effects. For example a nosebleed is incorrectly regarded by those with cocaine addiction as a sign of purity.
Cocaine is readily absorbed through any mucous membrane such as those found in the mouth, nose, and lungs via chewing, snorting, or smoking respectively. Alternatively, many with a cocaine addiction inject it directly into their blood stream. It can only be smoked if it is in a form where it doesn’t dissolve in water. Smoking cocaine is preferred by many with cocaine addiction because the cocaine is absorbed immediately into blood without the need for needles. When in the blood it can reach the brain very quickly. The rush is much more intense than snorting, but does not last as long. The rush from smoking is over almost as soon as the person with the cocaine addiction exhales the vapor. However, the high often lasts up to ten minutes.
The side effects of cocaine addiction are many and diverse. They range from chronic runny nose to hyperthermia, muscle damage respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, and brain damage. These side effects are related both to the size of dose and to how long cocaine has been used. Smoking or injecting cocaine can be particularly dangerous as those with cocaine addiction typically continue to smoke cocaine until none is left or inject too much resulting in an overdose. The specific treatment of cocaine overdose is either the intravenous administration of a short-acting barbiturate, such as adrenaline, or diazepam by a licensed medical professional. There is no antidote for overdose. Regardless, death is often the end result of a person’s cocaine addiction.