Cocaine is known as one of the most addictive drugs in the world and its destructive effects can transform a person's life beyond recognition. It does not take many uses of cocaine for someone to be completely hooked and consumed by their need to keep using it on a regular basis. What is it that makes cocaine so addictive?
Like many drugs it is a stimulant that has a powerful effect on the brain. Next to methamphetamine, cocaine creates the greatest psychological dependence of any drug. People become both physically and mentally dependent on cocaine to function because tolerance to cocaine develops quickly any symptoms of withdrawal can be very severe.
Users begin to require more and more cocaine to achieve the same feeling of euphoria. They begin to prefer cocaine to any other activity as their life alters to the point of everything revolving around the drug.
Chemical and Structural Changes in the Brain
Cocaine is a pain blocker that is extracted from the leaves of the coca shrub plant located mainly in South America and it is the most powerful stimulant with a natural origin. The drug has the ability to stimulate the nervous system and raise dopamine levels, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure in the brain.
With increased levels of dopamine the user will feel happier, more confident and energetic but the accumulation of dopamine in the brain ultimately can disrupt normal communication of neurons. Long term usage of cocaine can lead to gradual changes in the brain's reward system which increases the risk of addiction.
The more frequently a person uses cocaine, the more likely they are to become completely consumed by the drug and change their life to accommodate their obsession.
The physical changes in the brain of a cocaine user are a major element in what makes the drug so addictive. Studies have been proven to identify abnormal brain structure in the frontal lobe of the brain of cocaine users.This abnormal structure is associated with their addictive behavior and their need to continue using cocaine.
According to the study, cocaine users have a widespread loss of gray matter that is directly linked to how long they have been using the drug. The longer a person uses cocaine, the more they lose of gray matter in their brain and those with the most reduction in volume have the greatest cocaine compulsivity.
The research also showed that for those who are dependent on cocaine, they tend to have a much larger brain reward system than those who are not addicted. The bigger reward system was theorized to be a form of vulnerability to addiction that existed before the subjects began using cocaine.
In addition to different brain structures, cocaine users also had different ways of thinking and feeling that compelled them to use cocaine compulsively in spite of very negative consequences. The drug appears to change both the physical structure of the brain and also the psychological processes of each person who is addicted.
Cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs available because of its highly addictive nature. The drug is associated with a number of health risks and psychological problems that can result from being addicted. The longer a person consumes cocaine on a frequent basis, the more likely they are to experience serious changes to their brain and interference with their normal functioning.
Cocaine's ability to impact the pleasure centers of the brain with a quick and intense high make it hard for people to stop using it. The changes that it causes to a person physically and mentally make it difficult to quit even with the intention of being abstinent. Professional counseling and treatment is necessary for anyone who suffers from issues of cocaine addiction.