Cocaine is one of the most serious types of illicit drugs. It’s highly addictive and can turn your life upside down if you develop a substance use disorder to it. Before you know it, you’re at the mercy of the drug and find that you can’t function normally without using.
Acknowledging that you have a serious substance use disorder involving cocaine can be overwhelming and heartbreaking. Fortunately, once you realize the severity of your situation, you can take the necessary steps to get the help that you need. You might also wonder how long it takes to become addicted to the drug.
How Addictive Is Cocaine?
Most people automatically think of cocaine as being one of the most addictive types of drugs right alongside heroin. Some end up wanting to experiment and promise themselves that they will only try it that one time. However, it’s fair to question how addictive it is and how long it can take to develop a problem. It’s long been revealed that a person can develop an addiction to crack cocaine the first time they try it.
Cocaine itself is highly addictive and can pose significant health risks to you if you abuse it. Even if you want to try it once to quench your curiosity and never do it again, there’s no guarantee that you won’t become addicted. For example, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), in 2013, there were around 1.5 million people aged 12 and over who were abusing cocaine in this country.
Generally, if you decide to try crack cocaine, there is a good chance you’ll become addicted immediately upon the first use. With the powder form of cocaine, this is not necessarily the case. However, this varies depending on the person and specific factors in their life and physical, psychological, and physiological makeup.
How Does Cocaine Affect You?
When you use cocaine, it affects the pleasure centers in your brain. This gives you an increased feeling of alertness regardless of whether you snort, smoke, inject or swallow it. The changes in the brain can occur even after a single use, which leads to strong cravings, symptoms of withdrawal, and neurological effects.
Because of its impact on the brain’s pleasure centers, cocaine use affects dopamine, which makes you feel good. You achieve the same feelings that normal activities that derive pleasure can do, including eating, sexual activity, engaging in a favorite hobby, or playing with your pet.
It leads you to achieve that high sensation. With repeated cocaine use, your brain becomes used to the effects of the drug. Over time, when you use it, you no longer experience the same exact feeling that you did before. This is due to the tolerance buildup. It’s common to begin abusing more and more cocaine over time to recapture that sensation. This is what leads to a serious addiction.
How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Cocaine?
Based on the effect that cocaine has on the brain and different factors of the individual who is using, how long it takes to develop an addiction varies. Some people can become addicted on the first try within only a few hours while others might use it for a few years before they become addicted.
However, one thing remains the same in everyone who develops a cocaine substance use disorder: when the drug is regularly abused and tolerance develops, it quickly and easily leads to addiction. Once this happens, it’s hard to say no and turn away the drug. You will constantly crave it more and more to achieve that pleasurable sensation in the brain.
What Are the Signs of Cocaine Addiction?
If you have tried cocaine and have continued using it, chances are that you have developed a tolerance and ultimately, an addiction. There are certain warning signs to look out for that indicate you might be addicted. They include the following:
- Anxiety and depression
- Asking people for money so you can get more
- Regretting decisions made while you’re high
- Planning your day around your cocaine use
- Lying and breaking the law to get more cocaine
- Forgoing your relationships and favorite activities in favor of cocaine
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