Cocaine Addiction in Women
Cocaine addiction is not discriminative. People get addicted to cocaine regardless of their age (there are new born-babies who are born addicted), race, gender, background, and other factors. Additionally, the drug is highly addictive. It is more addictive than another commonly used drug called marijuana. However, there is information stating that drugs affect men and women in diverse ways. This is in accordance to NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse). In men, cocaine affects physically the user solely. Unfortunately, in women, the drug affects the user and the unborn child if the user is pregnant. The research on diversity in the cocaine effects on men and women showed that women had lesser sensitivity to cocaine, despite the time of their menstrual cycle (NIDA, 2010). However, even with this lessened sensitivity, the effects of this drug on women are a situation that continues to attract the attention of the organizations concerned with the issues pertaining to women.
Cocaine is an extract from the Coca plant. This plant grows in the high mountains of South America. In the past, the natives used the plant’s leaves to simulate their bodies. This stimulating effect increased the oxygen intake as it increased breathing. Since the natives of the region worked in these high mountain areas, the stimulation instilled by these plants allowed them to work in the thin air conditions. As research advanced, scientist found ways of maximizing the effect and the strength of the plant leaves, thus, produced cocaine (Narconon International, 2012). Through these researches, scientists changed the effects of the drug from a constructive purpose to a destructive one. The destructive effects of the drug are quite evident on the people who consume it.
The white crystal powder referred to as cocaine comes after synthesizing the plant chemically. As technology and research methods advanced with time, scientists continued identifying newer ways how to magnify the euphoric effect of the drug. These methods led to the current addictive form of the drug named as crack cocaine. This form rates highest in consumption. In the 1970s, people began smoking cocaine rocks. During this time, distributors used to sell the dug by rocking it so that the users could smoke it. This is how the term “cocaine rocks” originated. The distributors did this in order to examine the drug’s quality before purchasing it from the distributors. Since its entry into the United States black market, cocaine has destroyed millions of lives affecting people directly or indirectly. Drugs, such as heroin or opium, are present longer in the market as compared to cocaine (crack), regardless historians date the drug as far back as one hundred and fifty years from now.
The first synthesis in the Unites States took place in 1855. However, the medical world recognized its total health effects in 1880. Sigmund Freud, a renowned psychologist of the nineteenth century, broadly advocated for the use of this drug as a safe way of treating such health issues as sexual impotence and depression. Another person who boosted its use is John Pemberton. He added the drug in the soft drinks he made for commercial purposes. The drink was Coca Cola. This drug contributed to the drink’s skyrocketing position as the most popular soft drink (Narconon International, 2012). After these controversies in the nineteenth century, the drug extreme concerns in the late twentieth century. The drug is very addictive. Additionally, the prolonged use of the drug cause appetite loss and severe deprivation of sleep since it is a stimulant. The drug has a number of names used on the streets in order to disguise it purchase. Some of the words used on its behalf include dope fiend, white, snow, binge, Charlie, Aunt Nora, dust, paradise, sniff, mojo, Bernice and coke amongst other street names (Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2012).
Effects on Women
As identified earlier, the drug’s effect on women is lesser than its effect on men. However, this lessened effective is quite high in its own category. Like food, after one consumes the drug, it goes through various stages of metabolism. When taken, women’s organism tends to break down and metabolize the drug more rapidly than men’s. This rapid metabolic process may be accounted by the women’s higher quantity of cholinesterase, enzyme that breaks down the drug (Lewis & Bandersky, 2012). However, even with this lessened changes, the effects can sometimes be fatal. Additionally, it is significant to understand that different women experience diverse effects, and so do their organisms. While some women take many years before reaching the suicidal stage, others take a short while even with the lessened effects on them.
The menstruation cycle is another factor that plays a role in lessening the sensitivity in women as compared to that of men. During this cycle, women experience both hormonal and physical changes in their bodies. During this cycle, women’s organisms increase the production of a hormone, which causes more mucous secretion in the nasal passages. Consequently, the mucous acts as some form of a barrier preventing the drug from being absorbed as rapidly as it could if there was no mucous. This limited absorption slows down the drugs impact on the body. The imbalances of hormones and other factors taking place during the menstrual cycle may interfere with many other organism functions. While hormones accelerate the functions, such as increased mood instability, they slow down the function of drug absorption (Cole et al., 2006). This reduced absorption not only interfered with the absorption of harmful drug, but affects the absorption of the beneficial substances.
Many studies confirm that male cocaine users prevail over female ones. There are a few factors causing this pattern. One of the reasons leading to this difference is that many women do not become high in their first consumption of the drug. This is in accordance with studies conducted by interviewing women. Moreover, cocaine is an expensive drug. This makes it a relatively expensive addiction to putting up with. This factor deters women from feeling the urge to use it. It is relevant to note that many men are financially well-off as compared to their female counterparts. This enables men to have more opportunities for buying drugs. In addition, society still perceives women in some fixed ways. It is more acceptable if a man is engaged in some habits than a woman.
Statistics reveal that 14% of the adults in the United Sates have engaged in cocaine use at some point during their life. Further, out of forty adults, one has tried using the drug in the past twelve months. The biggest group of men and women using cocaine are between eighteen and twenty five ears. Since the drug enters into the blood system through smoking or injecting, the effects are almost instant. The most common effect of this drug in women and every other user is the feeling of being ‘high’. Chemicals in the brain interrupt the functions of the neurotransmitters. The nerves use these neurotransmitters to convey messages to each other. Some of the transmitters blocked from being absorbed include dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (Cole et al., 2006).
The chemical accumulation in the brain is the main cause of euphoria or the ‘high’ feeling. However, for women using coke, this feeling registers as an increased feeling of alertness and energy. There is also a mood elevation and supremacy feeling. That is why women, who take this drug, tend to laugh excessively or show a jovial mood. In most cases, women, who have a troubled life or those who engage in such acts as prostitution, also use this drug. They do it in order to invoke the supremacy feeling, thus gaining courage to face life. Statistics show that a fair share of women in the celebrity industry, such as modeling or entertainment, have higher chances of using this drug as compared to men (Shannon, 2010). One greatest example is the late Whitney Houston. This is mostly because they want to cope with the demands of being a celebrity.
It is clear that these effects sound attractive. However, many negative effects come with these positive ones. These negative effects include irritability, paranoia, restlessness, and anxiety. The elevated mood also comes with elevated irritation. Just as they laugh easily, some women cry as easily. The increased energy and alertness, sometimes, cause sleep loss. However, there are women who sleep for very long hours. Signs showing that a woman is using cocaine include dilated pupils, elevated levels of activity and energy, exuberant speech, and excessive excitement. These effects last from thirty minutes to two hours after drug consumption. Users receive maximum side effects when they inject or smoke it as compared to snorting.
From a medical report released by NIDA, greater frontal cortex and the central sulcus in women has an association with cue-induced craving. However, there is a reduced functioning of the ventral cingulated cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, insula, and the amygdala. Neural functions in amygdala reduce women’s activity as compared to that in men. The main functions of the amygdala include controlling emotions and sexual behavior. The other mentioned pars of the brain control cognition and emotions (NIDA, 2010). This explains the instable emotions and reduced sexual libido in women. It is significant to note that these effects do not always appear in the negative form. Many women do not experience immediate low libido. In fact, some women experience intense sexual experience in the initial stages of consumption. However, this feeling changes with time. They might feel the sexual urge, but fail to have an orgasm. With time, the libido might go away altogether.
Effect on Pregnancy
One of the worst effects of the cocaine abuse in women is its effect on the unborn children. Pregnant women consuming cocaine not only put their own lives/bodies in danger but also put the lives of their unborn children in danger too. When a woman takes cocaine during pregnancy, it interferes with the fetus’ development. Additionally, it has effects that can affect the child even after he/she is born. In this regard, woman’s consumption of cocaine during pregnancy can affect the future of the child. Some effects in children include ADHD (Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder), behavioral problems, and learning problems amongst other problems (Lewis & Bandersky, 1995).
The significant thing to note in this aspect entails that the unborn baby consume the drug as the mother consumes it. The toxins of the drug reach the baby through the placenta. These toxins create birth defects. This way, a baby is born addicted to the drug. As a result, a baby suffers intense withdrawal symptoms after birth. Since a child can no longer receive the drug, this addiction may kill him/her. However, if a child survives, he/she suffers problems above mentioned earlier. A mother taking cocaine is being unfair to her unborn baby. Experts advise mothers to seek help as soon as they get pregnant in order to limit the effects of the addiction on their babies.
In 2002, statistics revealed that children, who met cocaine at the fetus stage, were twice as likely to get mental development issues within the first two years of growth as compared to the normal children. In 1999, another study showed that twenty-nine percent of pregnant women using the drug had a higher chance of experiencing miscarriages as compared to other women. Additionally, cocaine addicts have twice the chance of prematurely delivery as compared to other women. CDCP’s (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports showed that pregnant women using the drug had five times the chance of delivering children with urinary tract malformations as compared to the other women (Casa Palmera, 2012). This information shows that addiction during pregnancy gives the unborn baby a future full of physical and psychological problems. The main challenges in the newborns include addiction or dependence on the drug, greater risks of unexpected death, hyperactivity, irritability, tremors, feeding challenges, sleep disturbances, low weight, intestinal abnormalities, unresponsive or withdrawn, and behavioral or learning challenges.
The best way of overcoming the addiction is through the rehabilitation. Although there are people who manage to addiction on their own, majority of the other addicts have to go through a rehabilitation process. The rehabilitation process takes place with the assistance of some organization. The governments or private groups are capable of sponsoring these institutions. The best way to conquer cocaine addiction is to stop before starting consuming it in large doses. However, this is not the case in most of the scenarios as cocaine is highly addictive. The other best option is turn for help of the institution on early stages of the addiction, as soon as possible. This is even more fundamental for the pregnant women as it affects the health and the future of their children.
The intense rehabilitation process lasts from six to eight months, depending on the program. However, there are cases when it takes longer or shorter periods (Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 2012). The best way to start the rehabilitation process is to inform a friend, family member, or anyone close who will help the addict. Once one successfully goes through the program, the addict graduates to being a recovering addict. However, addiction is not curable - it is only controlled. One can lapse at any time and go back into the addiction if he/she fails to take the necessary precautions. Once the body experiences the effects of the drug, lapsing to its use is faster than for a person who has never taken it.
Addiction in women may not be as effectual as that in men. However, it becomes worse when the addict is a pregnant woman. Certain factors in a woman’s body minimize its effect. However, the effects are evident to someone watching a person who is a consumer of the drug. The physical and psychological effects of the drug usually lead to death either by suicide or health complications. The physical effects include brain, heart, lungs/respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and sexual function complications. Self- stopping or rehabilitation is the best way out of the addiction.
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