Helping you understand cocaine abuse

Cocaine abuse

What is cocaine abuse?

Repeated use of cocaine will eventually lead to cocaine addiction, or cocaine dependence. Someone who is addicted to cocaine becomes both physically and psychologically addicted to the drug. They can become unrecognisable to friends and family, becoming tense, irritated and self-centred. Cocaine addiction puts personal relationships under huge emotional strain, and can have extreme financial consequences. Continued use of cocaine or an overdose can also be fatal. Find out more about cocaine addiction symptoms and cocaine withdrawal symptoms.

What is cocaine?  

Cocaine is an extremely addictive stimulant drug. It is made from the leaves of the coca plant native to the Andes mountains of Peru and Bolivia, where native peoples have chewed and ingested the leaves to combat cold, hunger and fatigue for thousands of years. The purified chemical was first isolated from the plant over a century ago and initially used for medicinal purposes. It was even one of the ingredients in early Coca Cola, until it was banned.  

As a street drug, cocaine looks like a fine, white powder. Expensive, it is known by many names including coke gold dust, status stimulant and the yuppie drug. It is not uncommon for high-level executives to use the drug on social occasions, or as a stimulant to remain alert while working long hours.

How is cocaine taken? 

Cocaine is most commonly snorted through the nose, and rubbed on the gums. The white powder can also be dissolved in water and injected. Cocaine can also be processed to make rock crystal known as freebase cocaine, or crack. In this form it is can be heated and inhaled. When snorted, 
the user feels the effect within minutes. The ‘high’ peaks and then diminishes after 30-60 minutes. Injecting or inhaling it results in more immediate effects, which also wear off faster. Many users binge on cocaine, taking it repeatedly to feel the same effect since it wears off so quickly. The initial high is followed by a ‘crash’ with feelings of depression, exhaustion, and cravings for more.

Why is cocaine addictive? 

Taking cocaine causes the brain to release more of the neurotransmitter that controls pleasure and movement called dopamine, than normal. Increased amounts of dopamine lead to an elevated feeling of pleasure. However, if someone continues to take cocaine, the brain will try to balance things out again and produce less dopamine. This means that you have to take more cocaine to get the same effect, or to recover from cocaine addiction withdrawal symptoms.

Why is cocaine dangerous? 

Taking cocaine can be fatal. Taking it together with other drugs or alcohol greatly increases the risks. One of the most psychologically addictive drugs, the craving for more cocaine or to alleviate withdrawal symptoms can lead a user to take an overdose.  

What causes cocaine addiction?

Cocaine addiction can be caused by a combination of various biological (genetic), psychological and social factors. These include peer pressure, easy availability of drugs, or an adverse upbringing. It is not necessary to understand the cause of cocaine abuse before treating the condition – a fire has to be put out even though the cause is unknown.

“To me, addiction has to do with feeling secure and safe. That may sound contradictory, because the result of my actions... what I do during my active addiction... isolates me completely, so I don't get any security or safety anymore. So it's contradictory, but the need is there. If I can satisfy that need in a healthy way, my life will become better. That's also a good point of departure... Am I willing, today, to spend the same kind of time and effort on my recovery?” Chris

Stop cocaine with Triora

If you think you have a problem with cocaine, then seek immediate help. Many of Triora’s professional staff have a history of addiction themselves and understand what stopping with cocaine involves. Take our free self-test below. Find out about cocaine treatment with Triora.


“With friends of mine I started to smoke pot and that went from bad to worse. I started to use all kinds of stuff and before I knew it, I got completely hooked.”

- Michel

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I want to feel better... I don't feel good enough. I may feel okay, but not good enough. So I grab something that fixes me. That's the mechanism of addiction.”

- Chris

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“By then, things had gotten worse. I'd become a dealer's girlfriend. I worked for him too, as a driver. I helped him set up cannabis gardens... and kept the books for his fake companies."

- Wijntje

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