08 Nov Effects Of Long-Term Cocaine Abuse
You don’t have to be told that drugs are bad for you, right? Since a young age, it has been brought to your attention that drugs, including cocaine, are not only illegal, and can get you into trouble with the police (i.e. jail or prison), but that they can also cause bodily harm. Yet, do you know just how bad drug abuse can actually hurt you and your future? Simply put, there are long-term abuse effects regardless of the drug in question.
While all drugs are dangerous and hazardous, this article will detail the long-term abuse effects of cocaine. Further, you will be educated on cocaine, including what the drug really is, the various cocaine street names, cocaine possession laws in the State of Georgia, and how to find treatment for addiction in Georgia.
The most important part of this article is the fact that treatment is always available—regardless of financial status, as well as whether or not you have insurance. If you suffer from a cocaine addiction problem and want to get help, there are options. As long you want help, you can get it. Never give up.
Cocaine: The Basics
You already know that cocaine is an illegal, drug. But what else do you know about this narcotic? Do you fully understand just how dangerous cocaine can be to your health? Not to mention, if you get caught selling, using, or possessing cocaine, then you run the risk of damaging your entire future. If you are charged with a felony (i.e. selling, using, or possessing cocaine), it will be difficult to find work and get credit. Nothing good comes from cocaine. More so, long-term substance abuse of cocaine is extremely damaging.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 14 percent of all Americans age 12 and older have used cocaine in their lifetime. Because cocaine is so addictive, even when an individual only intends to use the drug once or twice, it is common for that person to become addicted to it, and continuously use it.
Cocaine is a stimulant that affects the brain and central nervous system by increasing an individual’s energy levels. The drug keeps people awake for longer periods of time, while increasing a person’s heart rate and blood pressure. During this time, it is natural for an individual’s pleasure sensors to be peaked, too.
Cocaine is so addictive and has such a high and negative effect on the brain that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has classified the drug as a Schedule II drug in the United States. Cocaine is not only illegal in Georgia but in all 50 states. If you get caught with cocaine—in any aspect—the consequences will be major.
There are two different types of cocaine:
- A powder form, which can be snorted, injected or smoked
- A rock form—crack cocaine—that is often smoked
A Variety of Names for Cocaine
It is common for all drugs, especially those on the streets, to be referred to as different names. Cocaine is no exception. The drug is commonly known by a variety of names and slang terms, including the following examples:
- Snow White
- White Powder
- White Fluff
- Big C
It is often easy to recognize the signs that someone is using cocaine. Generally speaking, when an individual is high on cocaine, he or she will demonstrate odd, uncharacteristic behavior. Specifically, the following signs do not necessarily mean a problem is occurring, but just that there is a reason to be concerned:
- A white powder or residue stain on or around the nose and/or mouth
- If the drug has been injected, needle marks on the arms or other body parts
- Burn marks, usually on hands and/or lips, indicating the drug has been smoked
- Any types of drug paraphernalia on their person or in their personal effects (i.e. pipe, spoon, syringe)
- A drastic change in mood, weight, sleeping and eating patterns, and levels of energy
- Any kind of uncharacteristic, high-risk behavior
- Dilated pupils
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Financial difficulties
Again, when a person becomes addicted to cocaine, the results are bad, even deadly. The length of the addiction can ultimately determine just how bad the person’s body will be harmed. Every individual is different, and factors can range from the type of cocaine to the amount that is used, etc. Yet, the following example is the common risk factors of long-term cocaine usage:
- Blood clots leading to heart attack, pulmonary embolism, stroke, and deep vein thrombosis
- Angina, or chest pain from tightening of the vessels
- Myocardial infarction, or the death of heart muscle from lack of oxygen related to poor blood flow
- Permanently increased blood pressure
- irregular heart rate
- brain shrinking
- inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain and/or spinal column
- or exceptionally high fever from a disease that requires medical attention
- Changes to prefrontal and temporal lobe functioning, affecting problem-solving, decision-making, vocabulary, attention, learning, and memory
- mood disorders
- Changes to movement, causing tremors, muscle weakness, changes in gait, etc.
Going through Withdrawal Symptoms
When an individual makes the decision to stop using and/or abusing this drug, he or she will likely go through a cocaine withdrawal. During the withdrawal condition, a person can face both physical and mental health complications. For starters, and possibly the biggest risk factors are cardiac issues. During cocaine withdrawal, a person has an increased chance of developing an arrhythmia or infarction, which is commonly known as a heart attack. Seizures are also common during this time.
When a person decides to stop using cocaine, he or she should seek out professional medical assistance. If a doctor or nurse is involved in the process, then it will be less likely for something damaging to occur.
Mental health concerns that are often associated with cocaine withdrawal include depression, suicidal thoughts, aggression, paranoia, and even violent acts. Again, due to these conditions, it is best to experience all withdrawal symptoms at a drug detox or treatment center, as these venues have a variety of tools and techniques to keep individuals completely safe after their cocaine usage.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms often include the following example:
- Lack of energy
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of Concentration
- Mood Swings
If you are caught possessing cocaine, you could face a variety of penalties, depending on the amount, your specific location, and your intent. Intent refers to whether you planned to sell or use the drug yourself. The Georgia legal system, in particular, is extremely hard on drug offenders, especially when the drug in question is cocaine. Therefore, when cocaine is found, the punishment is often quite severe.
Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, meaning it is in the same category as methamphetamine, crack cocaine, morphine, opium, and methadone. The law in Georgia is rather clear: It is illegal to have any connection with cocaine, whether the intent is to purchase, possess, or use.
For a cocaine conviction to stick in Georgia, the State must prove that an individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of possessing cocaine. The State must show the accused actually had the cocaine in his or her possession during the time of the arrest for an “actual possession” charge to hold.
Learning about the Charges
When it comes to cocaine, the individual’s punishment will be determined by the amount of cocaine found on him or her. Remember, though, it doesn’t matter how much of the substance is found on you—even the tiniest bit—cocaine, in any amount, is illegal.
Specifically, if an individual is found with less than 28 grams of cocaine, then he or she could serve between 5 to 30 years in prison. This crime is a felony. If an additional offense occurs, the accused could face another 10 to 40 years in prison—as well as life. As stated above, once you are charged with a felony offense, it will be extremely difficult to find a job and/or gain credit.
In Georgia, there is the possibility for conditional release or diversion programs for those who are experiencing their first criminal prosecution. A conditional release is similar to probation, during which the accused will have specific conditions set by the judge that he or she must satisfy. If these conditions are not satisfied, or not satisfied with the judge’s liking, then the accused will find themselves in further trouble.
It is possible for a judge to be lenient if this is an individual’s first drug offense, and if the case is somewhat minor. If this does happen, the person could be on probation for up to five years and will have to participate in rehabilitation programs and/or medical treatments. Only after the conditions have been successfully met, then will the proceedings be dismissed.
It does not matter of the offense or ruling, all drug possession cases in Georgia will result in a suspension of driver’s license. For first time offenders, the suspension will most likely last for six months. For a second offense, the suspension will last for at least a year, while a third offense will result in a minimum two-year suspension.
You Need a Lawyer
Regardless of the crime or charge, it is always necessary to speak to a professional lawyer. An experienced drug lawyer will not only be well versed in the crime and charge but also know how to offer a proper defense. Most firms offer a free consultation, making it easier to find a lawyer that is best suited for your specific needs.
After speaking to a lawyer, he or she may choose from a myriad of defenses.
One example of a defense is an unwitting possession, which means you had no idea you were in possession of the illegal drug. It’s possible that you were delivering a package for a friend, unaware of its contents, or someone slipped the drugs into your bag or car without your knowledge.
An attorney can also argue “lack of possession.” This implies that even though you were in the vicinity of the cocaine, that you were completely unaware of its presence. For whatever reason, it is possible that you had no idea the cocaine existed.
It is also your lawyer’s job to educate you on defenses that are bad, or unlikely to go in your favor. You want to find a lawyer that you not only like, but more importantly, trust. Particularly, if you know you messed up but want to a new start, choosing a lawyer is a very important step.
Seeking the Best Treatment
Finally, if you are ready to get help and seek cocaine treatment in Georgia, then it will be important to find the best treatment center. You do not have to face this journey alone. More importantly, if you have been using and/or abusing cocaine for a while, then you should not face this next step alone.
Finding the best treatment center for your needs may seem difficult or overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Regardless of your circumstances (i.e. your income and whether or not you have insurance), you should be able to find the right help.
In the State of Georgia, there are a variety of resources and treatment centers, all offering the adequate tools to get over your addiction. Just like with finding the right lawyer, the important thing is to do your research. Find several different treatment centers, read reviews, interview the staff, and most importantly, interview past patients.
Never Give Up
Remember, the most important aspect of getting over your cocaine addiction is to never give up. Yes, the long-term effects of cocaine abuse or damaging, but if you want to get help and are ready to get help, you can. A recovery is always an option, but you have to want to recovery.
It may seem cliché, but it is never too late to turn your life around. Cocaine is a very dangerous, addicting drug, but with hard work and dedication, you can beat this addiction. Many people suffer from long-term substance abuse, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get help before an overdose.
“What Are the Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?” NIDA. 15 Mar. 2019. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use
Frazer, KM. “The Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use on Cognitive Functioning: A Systematic Critical Review.” NCBI. 16 April 2018. 15 Mar. 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29673580
“The Effects of Cocaine Abuse.” Project Know. 15 Mar. 2019. https://www.projectknow.com/cocaine/effects/