Abuse and Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that of the 30 million Americans who have tried cocaine intranasally, 20% become regular users and 5% develop compulsive use or addiction (Gawin & Ellinwood, 1988). Whether a given recreational cocaine user will become chemically dependent is difficult to predict. Abusers report that controlled use becomes compulsive either when they attain increased access to cocaine and therefore escalate their dosage, or when they switch to a more rapid route of administration (e.g., from intranasal administration to intravenous injection or smoking freebase or crack).

With recreational use, the cocaine user's initial experience of elation and heightened energy, with increased sexuality and self-esteem, appears to be free of negative consequences. Abusers may experience occasional problems associated with their drug use. Unlike dependence on alcohol or opiates, cocaine dependence is frequently characterized by binge use. With chronic and increased use, there is increased drug toxicity, dysphoria, and depression. The addict has irresistible cravings for cocaine. He or she focuses on pharmacologically based cocaine euphoria despite progressive inability to attain this state and adverse physical, psychological, and social sequelae. Loved ones are neglected, responsibility becomes immaterial, financial hardships occur, and nourishment, sleep, and health care are ignored.

Drug Addiction

Drug Addiction

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