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Is Cocaine Physically Addictive?

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Drug addiction is a terrible problem that affects millions of people around the world. Cocaine, much like other stimulants, can cause serious physical and psychological dependence that is both difficult to treat and difficult to overcome. Determining the answer to the question, “is cocaine physically addictive?” can be challenging to fathom unless you’ve personally experienced this addiction yourself.

Signs of Cocaine Withdrawal

Is Cocaine Physically Addictive

Irritability and paranoia are common cocaine withdrawal symptoms.

According to Medline Plus, cocaine withdrawal is a common problem in people who abuse cocaine regularly or repeatedly. Cocaine withdrawal is one of the first known signs of addiction and it’s the most difficult side effect of addiction to cope with. Even people who cut back their drug use are likely to experience mild to moderate withdrawal.

Common signs of withdrawal include:

  • cravings
  • irritability
  • depression
  • sleepiness
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • anxiety
  • paranoia

Understanding Addiction & the Brain

In recent years, scientists have just begun to clearly outline what it is that causing addiction—structural and functional changes that occur within the brain are now seen as the cause of addiction. Repeat use of drugs such as cocaine “cause lasting changes in brain function that are difficult to reverse,” according to Harvard Health. An estimated 2 million cocaine addicts have learned the hard way that the chemical changes which take place within the brain are difficult to overcome or to heal from even when there is a strong desire to make positive change.

Changes in Intrinsic Rewards Systems

The brain naturally reacts to rewards through the release of dopamine which interacts with the body’s pleasure sensors and makes the individual feel “good.” When addictive drugs are used, such as when cocaine is repeatedly abused, there is an unnatural stimulant response of the brain which results in repeat release of dopamine and this leads to a depletion of levels. In time, the user can no longer feel good or happy without the stimuli response that comes from using drugs.

Is Cocaine Always Addictive?

Cocaine use doesn’t always lead to addiction, in fact, some people are able to recreationally use this drug without ever becoming physically dependent. According to Harvard Health, some people’s reward system is more vulnerable to stimuli response than others and this may be responsible for causing cocaine addiction in some while preventing it in others. Every individual is different, the capacity of some to exercise judgment while others are unable to exhibit impulse control is partially affected by gender, socioeconomic status, past history of drug or alcohol use, mental capacity and individual circumstance.