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The relationship between cocaine abuse and violence

Cocaine is the second most abused drug in the world after cannabis, with around 23 million users worldwide. Even one-time use can lead to cocaine abuse, which brings many issues due to its harmful effects. Cocaine addiction not only brings various physical and mental health risks, but an increase in violent tendencies.

In fact, the connection to violence starts with the first use of cocaine, as the drug’s effects can significantly impact mood and behaviour.

Read more to find out why cocaine can make you angry and aggressive, leading to violent behaviours.

Why cocaine use leads to violence

Cocaine interferes with mood from the first use. In the longer-term, cocaine abuse can cause frequent mood swings due to its interference with the brain. So why do people use cocaine? Many people don’t realise the full extent of what cocaine does to their bodies and brains, taking it only for its perceived pleasurable effects. In fact, cocaine stimulates the central nervous system and creates a wide range of symptoms:

  • A feeling of intense euphoria
  • A sensation of invincibility
  • Increased confidence
  • A feeling of superior intellect
  • Appetite suppression
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Higher pain threshold

Numerous combinations of these effects can result in cocaine users becoming erratic and reckless in their behaviour. Alongside these symptoms, many cocaine users are prone to becoming anxious, agitated, aggressive, paranoid (known as ‘cocaine paranoia’) or carrying out violent behaviour. Significantly, studies show that crack cocaine can make you more angry and violent than powder cocaine.

Research indicates that the rage and violence associated with cocaine use is down to its effect on neurotransmitters in the pleasure centres of the brain. Studies also show that cocaine abuse causes changes in levels of norepinephrine and serotonin. This interference with organic bodily chemicals, which act as neurotransmitters to the brain, leads to aggressive behaviour, hyperactivity, impaired judgement and paranoia.

Statistics around cocaine and violence

In the UK, around 873,000 people aged 16 to 59 (2.6% of the population) report using cocaine in the last year. This was an increase of 37% compared with five years earlier. Around 331,000 of young adults report using cocaine, which amounts to 5.3% of 16 to 24 year olds – an increase of 73% over five years.

This means that a significant proportion of the public have the potential to become aggressive and violent after using cocaine. This extends to self-harm too, with a study in New York, around people under 61 who had committed suicide, showing that 20% of them had used cocaine within days of their death.

A 2020 domestic violence study in the US showed that the most common substance taken by those committing these crimes was cocaine. Around 30% of attackers had taken cocaine and alcohol, while around 13% had taken.

Types of cocaine

In the western world, the type of cocaine most commonly used is cocaine hydrochloride, which is an odourless white powder. It is usually snorted through the nose, though it is also sometimes taken orally or dissolved and injected.

Crack is a cocaine derivative comprising cocaine, sodium bicarbonate and/or ammonium bicarbonate. The rocks left from this mixture are then heated and the smoke inhaled. This drug’s effects are immediate and more intense than snorting, but the euphoria is briefer and the comedown is more intense.

Breaking the habit of cocaine addiction

Cocaine use can quickly create a psychological dependence on the drug. What cocaine does to your long-term health far outweighs any immediate short-lived high. Continued use can lead to a habit that is very difficult to break, with serious physical and psychological effects. The sooner you get help, the better your chances of long-term recovery from cocaine abuse.

Cocaine addiction cannot be treated using substitution treatments. Therapy plays a hugely important role in cocaine rehabilitation, and here at Life Works, a team of highly accredited experts in mental health lead our programme. They have helped many others to recover from the challenges of cocaine addiction, and there’s every reason that you can do the same. Contact us today and start your journey to a better road ahead.

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To discuss how the Life Works team can help to support individuals and families dealing with addiction and for further information on treatment and rehabilitation programmes, please call: 01483 745 066 or click here to book a FREE ADDICTION ASSESSMENT.

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