The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use

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The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use

The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use Is there really such a thing as casual cocaine use? Because of cocaine’s powerful impact on brain functioning, it is highly addictive both psychologically and

physiologically. Young adults who use the drug occasionally with friends may not

be aware of the dangers of cocaine, including both short- and long-term effects of

cocaine on the body and mind. So-called casual cocaine use not only has the potential to lead to addiction, but can also be life threatening.

While marijuana and alcohol are more commonly used among young adults,

cocaine abuse and cocaine addiction in young adults are steadily trending

upward. Results from the most recent research on nationwide drug trends shows

that rates of cocaine use have been increasing among young adults over the past five years.

The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use

The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use

The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use

How Casual Cocaine Use Can Lead to Addiction

Cocaine stimulates a flood of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine in the

brain, creating intense feelings of euphoria and pleasure.

One of the biggest dangers of cocaine is how easily it can develop into addiction.

The drug can change the brain after just one use, catalyzing strong cravings.

Hence, what begins as casual cocaine use can quickly increase to regular usage and then to a substance use disorder.

In addition to its immediate effects, cocaine appears to create long-lasting

changes in the structure and function of the brain. Over time, these changes

affect gene expression and nerve cell structure. Moreover, the prefrontal cortex—

the part of the brain that weighs risk and makes informed decisions—becomes

impaired by ongoing use, further increasing the risk of cocaine addiction in young adults. As an individual’s tolerance increases and they use more and more of the drug, the effects on the brain also increase.

The Rising Rate of Cocaine Abuse Among Young Adults

NIDA’s Monitoring the Future study tracks drug use trends among US

adolescents and young adults. The most recent report, published in 2019, found

that 6.5 percent of young adults (ages 19–30) used cocaine at least once in the

12 months before the survey. This represents a significant increase from the all-time low of 3.9 percent in 2013.

Why Young Adults Engage in Casual Cocaine Use

The psychological effects of cocaine include enhanced feelings of energy and

confidence, as well as reduced inhibitions. As a result, young adults who suffer

from an anxiety disorder, social anxiety, or low self-esteem may use cocaine as a

way to feel more comfortable in social or sexual situations.

The Dangers of Cocaine Abuse

Even casual cocaine use can be severely detrimental both physically and mentally. In addition, there are both short- and long-term effects of cocaine.

In the short term, cocaine use can have the following effects: The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use

Decreased appetite
Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Higher respiration rate
Dilated pupils
Dry mouth
Heightened startle reflexes
Extreme sensitivity to light, touch, or sound.

When to Seek Help for Cocaine Abuse

There are a number of warning signs indicating that casual cocaine use has progressed to cocaine addiction in young adults. These include physical, behavioral, and psychological effects of cocaine on the body and mind.

The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use

Physical signs: Nosebleeds, respiratory issues, changes in eating or sleeping habits, intense cravings for the drug, withdrawal symptoms (such as chills, aches, fatigue, and fever) when not using the drug

Behavioral signs: Financial problems, missing work or school, borrowing or stealing money, losing track of life goals, aggressive or abusive behavior, withdrawal from family and friends

Mental health signs: Personality changes, depression, anxiety, paranoia, mania, delusional thinking

Because the dangers of cocaine are so significant and the withdrawal symptoms from cocaine abuse can be severe, including depression and suicidal idealization, it’s essential to seek professional help in order to safely detox from the drug. Subsequently, treatment can support young adults to understand the mental health issues driving their cocaine abuse, and help them to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

The Dangers of Casual Cocaine Use

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