Cocaine increases levels of the natural chemical messenger dopamine in brain circuits controlling pleasure and movement.
Normally, the brain releases dopamine in these circuits in response to potential rewards, like the smell of good food. It then recycles back into the cell that released it, shutting off the signal between nerve cells. Cocaine prevents dopamine from recycling, causing excessive amounts to build up between nerve cells. This flood of dopamine ultimately disrupts normal brain communication and causes cocaine’s high.
(Image of brain reward center courtest: NIDA.gov)
- Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America.
- Street dealers often mix it with things like cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour to increase profits. They may also mix it with other drugs such as the stimulant amphetamine.
- People snort cocaine powder through the nose, or rub it into their gums. Others dissolve it in water and inject it or inject a combination of cocaine and heroin, called a Speedball. Another popular method of use is to smoke Crack cocaine.
- Cocaine increases levels of the natural chemical messenger dopamine in brain circuits controlling pleasure and movement. This flood of dopamine ultimately disrupts normal brain communication and causes cocaine's high.
- Short-term effects include:
- constricted blood vessels
- faster heartbeat
- extreme happiness and energy
- Long-term effects include:
- severe bowel decay
- higher risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases
- severe paranoia with auditory hallucinations
- A person can overdose on cocaine, which can lead to death.
- Behavioral therapy may be used to treat cocaine addiction.
- While no government-approved medicines are currently available to treat cocaine addiction, researchers are testing some treatments.
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Praise for Healing the Brain
"A book that can help medical professionals as well as the general public, Mr. Balog has tackled a subject that is complex and he makes it quite approachable. It has added and enriched my own practice of medicine by making me more aware of issues not often discussed in medical circles."--Peter Paganussi, MD, Virginia
"Author David Balog has done an excellent job of creating a book for educators (or anyone working with youth) that explains the complicated workings of the brain in an easy to understand manner. Balog goes on to discuss various types of trauma and how the adolescent brain responds to trauma such as depression, stress, addiction, risk taking, PTSD, etc. LGBT/Q youth may experience trauma in ways majority youth often do not. The author shares important coping strategies....I highly recommend this book!"--Carol Dopp, M.Ed.
"David Balog understands the strain of alienation, so he tackles this subject with compassion and concern. Mr. Balog draws on his knowledge of brain science to give readers insight into what happens to young people under tremendous stress, and he offers practical advice on how to help and cope."--Gary Cottle, author
"Provides comfort and learning to the reader. Flows easily from one topic to the next and knits tidbits of information together in a unifying mosaic. Easy to read. Difficult to put down." --Michael J. Colucciello, Jr., New York State Dept. of Mental Health researcher, retired.
"Well researched, fleshed out with relevant case histories, this book packs a lot of solid information into its 152 pages. Written in an engaging style for the layman, it covers a wide range of topics. One learns a great deal about the biology of stress, particularly the vulnerability of the brain in the pre-adult years. This book also provides a glossary of key brain science terms and a listing of organizations serving the LGBT /Q community and resources on the brain."--Gary Bordzuk, librarian