Drug Addiction and Cocaine User

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For my research paper I chose the drug Cocaine as my research topic. "Cocaine delivers an intensity of pleasure - and despair - beyond the bounds of normal human experience. Probably very few people aspire to be drug addicts. But it happens, every day. Why? What is so good about a drug that can potentially destroy a person's body? How does it work? What are its effects on the brain? Why is it so hard to quit? Cocaine (C17H21NO4) comes from the leaf of an Erythroxylon coca bush. It is a drug that affects the central nervous system. It causes feelings of euphoria, pleasure, increased energy and alertness. People under the influence of cocaine often do not feel the need for food or sleep. They also feel energetic and may talk a lot. However, depending on factors such as environment, dosage, and the manner in which the drug is taken, cocaine can have adverse effects such as violent, erratic behavior, dizziness, paranoia, insomnia, convulsions, and heart failure to name a few. Long- term effects of cocaine include, but are not limited to strokes, heart attacks, seizures, loss of memory, and decrease in learning capability (1).  People may not always know the exact consequences of the drug they are taking; however, chances are that they do know that the drug is unhealthy for them. Schools across the country educate about the dangers of drug use and abuse through programs like D.A.R.E., television stations show anti-drug advertisements as a public service, and even city buses blazon anti-drug propaganda. People are aware that very rarely does anything good come from drug use, and still, everyday people fall victim to drugs. Why do people succumb to the urge to try drugs? It feels good...why else? When a person takes cocaine, it causes a rush. There is between one or two minutes of intense pleasure. This is followed by five to 8 minutes of euphoria, then as the high comes down, an overwhelming urge for more, which may last for a day. (3) When a user is between cocaine doses or halts usage, the opposite effects occur. The user is depressed and tired (2). Cocaine is attractive to users because it triggers dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is present in many regions of the brain. In normal mice, the introduction of cocaine increases dopamine by 150 percent. Dopamine regulates movement, emotion, motivation, and the feeling of pleasure. In a normal brain, dopamine is released by a neuron into a synapse and then it moves to dopamine receptors on other neurons. It is then moved back to the neuron that transmitted the dopamine initially. When cocaine enters the area of the brain where the dopamine is located, it blocks the reuptake pumps that remove the dopamine from the synapse of the nerve cell. Thus, more dopamine gathers at the synapse and feelings of intense pleasure result. This feeling continues until cocaine is naturally removed from the system (2). Research findings by the National Institute of Drug Addiction (NIDA) demonstrate that cocaine not only affects the level of dopamine in the brain, but also the level of serotonin. In a study using mice without dopamine transporters, the mice were given cocaine and they still experienced rewarding effects. This was obvious because the animals kept on attempting to get or self-administer more. These researchers speculate that more than one neurotransmitter is responsible for the pleasurable feeling cocaine yields (2). Although main hypothesis as to why cocaine is so pleasurable, is that it alters levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, some scientists report that cocaine effects approximately 90 different parts of the brain, not just the two main regions of the amygdala and the nucleus accumbens. However, it is interesting that it is these two regions of the brain that remain active after the cocaine has left the system, and the powerful, uncontrollable desire for the drug has set in. (3)  The first time people use cocaine and its effects fade, they want more....
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