WHY IS COCAINE SO HIGHLY ADDICTIVE?

Photo credits (top): Cordis

Next to methamphetamine,1 cocaine creates the greatest psychological dependence of any drug. It stimulates key pleasure centers within the brain and causes extremely heightened euphoria.

A tolerance to cocaine develops quickly—the addict soon fails to achieve the same high experienced earlier from the same amount of cocaine.

Deadly combination of drugs

Cocaine is sometimes taken with other drugs, including tranquilizers, amphetamines,2 marijuana and heroin. Such combinations greatly increase the danger of using cocaine. In addition to the likelihood of developing a two-drug habit, one can easily create a mixture of narcotics that proves fatal.

“I had no more future. I did not see how I could escape my cocaine dependence. I was lost. I was ‘exploding’ and unable to stop myself from continuing to seriously abuse cocaine. I had hallucinations that animals were crawling under my skin. I felt them each time I shot up and scraped myself with the point of my syringe until I started bleeding in order to make them leave. I was once bleeding so heavily from this I had to be taken to the hospital. —Susan

  1. 1. methamphetamine: a highly addictive central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) stimulant.
  2. 2. amphetamine: a central nervous system stimulant, often called “speed.”