Cocaine carries with it a certain mystique. Glamorized in movies and once considered “the caviar of street drugs,” cocaine is experiencing a surge in popularity, especially among women. According to a report by the Association of Public Health Observatories, in 2003, 4.8 percent of women admitted to using cocaine. By 2009, that figure had grown to 6.7 percent.
There are several factors contributing to this disturbing trend, not the least of which is the perpetuation of popular myths regarding cocaine and its use. Below are some of the most common cocaine myths followed by the cold, hard truth.
Myth vs Fact
Myth: Cocaine is safe. Cocaine’s reputation as a party drug makes it a popular choice for the all-night crowd. A high from cocaine can make a user feel euphoric and energetic.
Fact: Cocaine is deadly. Cocaine causes blood vessels to constrict, which leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure as well as body temperature. Just one use can result in seizures, cardiac arrest and death.
Myth: You can use occasionally and not get addicted. Many people use cocaine because they think casual use will not result in addiction.
Fact: Cocaine is highly addictive both psychologically and physiologically. Addiction can occur after only a few uses.
Myth: Cocaine has no bad side effects. Feelings of supremacy and an extremely elevated mood lead a user to think there are no bad side effects when using cocaine.
Fact: Even while high, a user can have feelings of anxiety, paranoia and irritability.
Myth: Cocaine is an aphrodisiac. Cocaine is thought of as a sexual enhancer.
Fact: Cocaine actually impairs sexual function in both men and women.
Myth: Cocaine is pure. The perception is that cocaine is not cut with other drugs, making it a more pure option.
Fact: In 1984, cocaine’s purity was measured at 63 percent. This figure fell to 26 percent as of 2009. Some samples of cocaine tested that year were found to be as low as 9 percent pure. While cocaine itself is dangerous, cutting it with other drugs makes it even more so.
Cocaine is a particularly difficult drug to quit. One reason for this is that the drug acts directly on the pleasure centers of the brain, which at the time does feel very good. However, this results in an intense craving for cocaine. As a person uses cocaine more and more frequently, a tolerance for the drug develops. Higher doses of cocaine are needed to achieve the same desired effects. In this way, dependence and addiction quickly take over.
In both the US and the UK, statistics show that cocaine use is on the rise among both men and women. Consider:
• The National Drug Treatment Monitoring System in the UK reported that in 2009, nearly 3,000 women sought treatment. That equals about eight women per day.
• The UK’s Ministry of Justice reported a fivefold increase in the number of women found by police to be using or possessing cocaine since 2002.
• According to WebMD, in the US, eight percent of men ages 18-25 have used cocaine in the last 12 months, while 14 percent of all adults have tried the drug.
Long Term Effects
Not only does cocaine affect the brain; it affects the entire body and all of its systems. Some of the effects on different areas of the body from using cocaine include:
• Stroke. Constricted blood vessels in the brain cause strokes. Since cocaine also causes seizures, a person using cocaine can experience violent or erratic behavior.
• Heart attack. Arteries supplying blood to the heart become restricted, which not only results in increased heart rate and blood pressure, but also in heart attack. Cocaine can cause the heart to beat with an abnormal rhythm, which is also potentially fatal.
• Kidney failure. Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscle fiber and the release of muscle fiber contents into the bloodstream. Cocaine can cause rhabdomyolysis, which leads to the kidneys suddenly shutting down.
• Respiratory damage. Snorting cocaine causes scabbing and damage to the mucous membranes. Nasal perforation can eventually occur after prolonged use. Smoking crack can cause permanent damage to the lungs.
• Gastrointestinal damage. Since cocaine restricts blood flow throughout the body, it affects the gastrointestinal region as well. The lack of oxygen-rich blood can result in stomach ulcers and, in some cases, perforation.
• Sexual dysfunction. As mentioned above, cocaine has an adverse effect on the sexual function of both men and women. Again, this is because of reduced blood flow.
Because some high-profile female celebrities use cocaine, many women view the drug as glamorous. Cocaine use is strongly linked to alcohol use, so many consider it socially acceptable. However, the truth about cocaine is that it will not only ruin your life — it could easily end it.
This guest post article was written and provided by Gregg Gustafson who is a freelance writer and consultant for Drug-Rehab.org. Gustafson works with individuals who suffer from drug abuse, in turn referring them to some of the most prestige drug rehab centers active today.