While some sources site heroin as the most addictive drug, and others site methamphetamine, there is no doubt that cocaine ranks highly on the addictive scale. Cocaine is certainly one of the most addictive drugs. There is an extremely high probability for addiction after exposure, with undeniable high percentages of users becoming dependent. Because of the way cocaine impacts the brain, causing blockages of the natural chemicals such a dopamine that create the sense of pleasure, after a single use, a person’s ability to experience pleasure naturally is impaired. This creates the physiological dependence that is known as addiction.
The way cocaine is ingested can have an effect on how addictive it is, and how soon the user is going to need their next fix. Crack cocaine, which is smoked rather than snorted or injected, creates a high more quickly, as it enters the lungs. However, this immediate high usually only lasts around ten minutes, whereas powdered coke enters the bloodstream in a slightly delayed manner, although not by much, and the high can last anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes. This high is not going to be quite as intense. Once the high begins to wear off, the user might ingest another dose to keep their high, which is known as binging.
Genetics and Age: Some people are more prone to substance addiction because of their genetic make-up. People who have addicts in the family may find that there is a commonality, making them more likely to become addicted to substances. Also, the age of the individual can affect whether or not they become addicted. Younger people may not be able to control their impulses as effectively, thereby allowing their addiction to control them, rather than being in control of their substance use.
Social History: People who have been abused, or suffer from low self-esteem, are at an increased risk of developing drug addictions. Because people tend to self-medicate and attempt to escape their issues, these types of issues are significantly linked to drug addiction. People who already suffer from depression and anxiety, or other mental health issues, also face higher probability of substance addictions.
Social Circles: The people that an individual chooses to socialize and associate with can have a significant effect on their drug exposure. People often approach cocaine after trying other, more mild substances, known as gateway drugs. The likelihood of someone becoming addicted to cocaine is linked to what substances they have already tried, and what they become exposed to. If an individual begins socializing with people who experiment with harder drugs, they likely will too. Especially because of the chemical reactions that happen in the brain when drugs are ingested, most drug users are looking to re-experience that first, most intense high, and are willing to try new things to make that happen. If their friends introduce them to cocaine, they will likely give it a try.
In short, the degree to which cocaine is addictive can depend on the individual and their circumstances as much as the drug itself. In its purer forms, it can be one of the most addictive substances out there, but the way a person chooses to interact with it can influence their vulnerability to cocaine addiction.