Why is Cocaine Addictive?
With so many people addicted to cocaine, it isn't uncommon for those unfamiliar with the drug to wonder at its allure. If you have a family member or a friend who has a problem with the drug, you may have even asked the question, "Why is cocaine addictive?" Understanding the answers to that question won't make the situation easier, but it can give you a better understanding of why cocaine is such a serious problem. Often, when people who care for an addict understand that cocaine addiction isn't just a choice, they also come to realize how important it is for addicts to find and choose the right rehab. Understanding the addictive nature of cocaine will also help you to be more sympathetic, which can only increase the chances of success during the ongoing addiction recovery process.
Ask someone, "Why is cocaine addictive?" and chances are you will get a basic answer about it making the user "high." While this is technically true, it is a very abbreviated summation of the real answer. To fully understand what makes cocaine addictive, you have to first understand how the brain works in terms of the way it responds to things that bring people joy or pleasure. When a person sees or experiences something that they like, nerve cells in the reward center of the brain release neurotransmitters, or chemicals, one of which is called dopamine. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that eventually makes its way back to the nerve cells from which it came. When a person uses cocaine, dopamine is released, but it is blocked from returning back into the nerve cells. As a result, dopamine continues to build up in the brain, reaching amounts much higher than what is normal. This buildup creates a heightened sense of pleasure, excitement, energy, or euphoria. This reaction is the "high" feeling that many drug users speak of, and it is ultimately what makes cocaine addictive; however, the dopamine excess does not last forever and eventually goes away. When the high of cocaine fades, the user experiences a crash that leaves them feeling extremely tired, sad, or both. As a result, they crave the pleasurable experience created by using cocaine and want to use it again. This turns into a dependence on the drug that causes severe withdrawal symptoms if they attempt to stop, which also plays a major role in addiction.
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