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Effect of Cocaine and Treatment MeasuresTerm Paper

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¶ … Brain Effects Cocaine Dependent Individuals and Treatment

One of the most addictive substances in the modern society that is increasingly abused is cocaine, which is a drug that generates several problems in the society and today's health care programs. As a result of the increased use of this drug, users sometime develop cocaine addiction or dependence, which is a condition characterized by an overwhelming psychological desire to use the drug regularly. Despite its associated psychological impacts, people increasingly use cocaine and become addicted because it generates euphoria and high levels of energy similar to caffeine. Cocaine addiction or dependence has become a major issue for health care providers because it may contribute to brain and cardiovascular damage, which in turn generates heart attacks, strokes, and constricting heart arteries. Therefore, the treatment of cocaine addiction or dependence is increasingly important in today's society.

This article focuses on examining how the brain effects cocaine dependent individuals and treatment. The first section primarily focuses on providing a biopsychosocial description of cocaine addiction or dependence based on recent research findings. This description includes a discussion on the evolution of cocaine dependence to become a major public health issue. This is followed by an evaluation of the social impact of the problem. The analysis is carried out on the premise on why cocaine dependence and treatment methods are important in today's society. The final segment provides a review of treatment methods in light of treatment outcomes, personalization of the treatment procedure, ethical issues, and program planning.

The treatment of cocaine dependence is an important measure for improving the health and well-being of individuals and the society. The most suitable treatment measure for cocaine dependence is a comprehensive approach that addresses the major ethical issues and is based on the specific case.

Biopsychosocial Description of the Problem

Morton (1999) defines cocaine as an addictive drug that creates several psychiatric symptoms, disorders, and syndromes (p.109). The signs of using these drugs include hallucinations, agitation, violence, paranoia, and delusions. The use of cocaine by individuals is attributed to the fact that the drug usually produces high levels of energy and euphoria similar to caffeine. The psychological and brain effects of cocaine can basically be linked to the primary effect of the drug or secondary to exacerbation of comorbid psychiatric disorders. As some individuals use cocaine to experience the euphoria and high energy it creates, they develop a psychological desire for regular use of the drug. The psychological desire in turn develops to become an addiction or dependence on the drug, which is characterized by overdose.

Given the psychological impact of the drug, cocaine has developed to become one of the most addictive substances in the modern society. While many clinical practitioners know that crack is linked to cocaine, very few know the exact composition of crack. However, crack is cocaine though not the cocaine in powder form, which produces high intensity. As compared to crack, cocaine has a slower start of action that develops or increases to produce the euphoric impacts. The increased intensity of cocaine is brought by the fact that it is not combined with other substances or liquids that relatively decreases its actions.

According to Moreno-Lopez et al. (2014), cocaine addiction is linked to gray matter anomalies in prefrontal and striatal brain segments that control impetus toward rewards and goals (p.1). The striatal brain regions encode the present value of tangible incentives while the prefrontal brain regions are reflections of long-term goals and rewards. In the striatal regions, the motivational value of rewards is encoded by the ventral striatal segments while habit learning and habit-based control of behavior is directed by the dorsal striatal aspects, which are central for these processes. The prefrontal cortex in the prefrontal brain regions consists of ventromedial elements that represent the subjective significance of rewards and goals and coordinate goal-directed behavior. In addition, the dorsomedial aspects in prefrontal cortex are necessary to deal with conflict and sustain motivation for challenges and goals over time. Therefore, the use of cocaine is attributed to decrease in ventromedial and dorsomedial prefrontal gray matter as well as magnification of striatal gray matter (Moreno-Lopez et. al., 2014, p.1).

Cocaine dependence or addiction is caused by the effect of the brain as a result of the use of the product. The drug has very potent stimulating effects on the nervous system, which significantly affect the brain and result in dependence or addiction. This most commonly abused illegal drug increases the amounts of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain's reward circuit that is associated with movement and pleasure. The effects of cocaine on the brain's reward circuit vary from 5, 15 or 30 minutes depending on how the drug is taken. Neurons in the brain's reward circuit usually release dopamine in reaction to a motivational or pleasurable stimulus. The dopamine is then recycled back into the same neuron, which in turn results in shutting off the signal between neurons (Nordqvist, 2014). An accumulation of dopamine takes place since the drug prevents dopamine from getting back into the neuron or from being recycled. This contributes to eventual disruption of normal communication since the process magnifies the message to and reaction of receptive neurons. Consequently, the user experiences feelings of euphoria, high intensity of motor activity and energy, enhanced well-being, and increased alertness.

This drug also increases the amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are the two other fundamental neurotransmitters. While serotonin is partly responsible for regulation of appetite, mood and sleep, norepinephrine is responsible for increase in blood pressure and heart rate, preparation of the body for emergency situations, activation, and alertness (Morton, 1999, p.110). Cocaine use results in instant release of these neurotransmitters and affects their normal and effective function. The instant release of these chemicals as well as overall depletion of dopamine impairs an individual's normal functioning.

Apart from these effects, cocaine dependence or addiction is associated with the physical changes in the brain that brought by the drug. As previously indicated, cocaine-using behavior creates abnormal brain structure in the brain's frontal lobe. This abnormal brain structure is a by-product of extensive loss of grey matter due to prolonged cocaine use. Individuals who use cocaine have much larger basal ganglia, the brain system where the actions and processes of cocaine are exerted. Therefore, the use of cocaine not only generates psychological effects on the brain but contributes to physical changes in brain structure and system.

Social Impact of the Problem

As previously mentioned, the psychological effects of cocaine are the major factors that contribute to its regular use and eventual addiction and dependence. Cocaine addiction and dependence is a major issue in the modern society, particularly the public health sector because of its increased use among adolescent and adult populations in the recent past. The increased concern and attention on cocaine dependence and addiction is because of its significant effect on the user, his/her family, the public health sector, and the society at large.

Psychological and Brain Damage Effects on Users

Cocaine dependence or addiction is associated with significant health impacts such as cardiovascular and brain damage, heart attacks in the central nervous system, panic attacks, high blood pressure, and cognitive impairments. This implies that users of these drugs are increasingly vulnerable to several cardiovascular and psychological health effects. The psychological and brain effects of cocaine dependence or addiction on a user is because of the significant changes the drug causes on the structure and functioning of the brain. The increased use and dependence on this drug not only generates physical changes to the brain structure but also its operations, especially with regards to attention. Due to its effect on brain networks and processes, cocaine dependence results in attentional bias (Kilts et. al., 2013, p.1135). These effects are largely brought by disruptions of networks and processes in the frontal, parietal, occipitotemporal, cingulate, and premotor cortex.

Increased Criminal Behavior and Crime Rates

For the individual's family and the society, cocaine addiction or dependence has been associated with irresponsible sexual behaviors and criminal activity. Cocaine contributes to increased criminal behavior and crime rates through inducing psychiatric symptoms that result in the emergence of violence. Based on the findings of a survey, psychiatric symptoms related to cocaine addiction or dependence contributed to 55% of violent behaviors (Morton, 1999, p.111). Cocaine users have increasingly reported engagement in violent crimes because of the effect of the drug on neurotransmitter dysfunction. While cocaine increases amounts of neurotransmitters in the brain's pleasure centers, cocaine contributes to violent behaviors by causing significant changes in serotonin and norepinephrine levels that may aggravate paranoia, aggression, impaired judgment, and hyperactivity. Comiskey, Stapleton & Kelly (2012) state that recent analysis shows that people who use cocaine are increasingly likely to commit an acquisitive crime as compared to individuals use benzodiazepines (p.406).

The impact of cocaine addiction or dependence on increased crime rates and criminal activity is attributed to the link between the drug and a significant number of illegal activities. Apart from being associated… [END OF PREVIEW]

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