Drugs of Abuse: C O C A I N E


Cocaine is derived from the coca leaves of the coca plant found predominantly in South America. Cocaine is probably the most addictive drug, as it powerfully stimulates the Mesolimbic Dopamine Pathway, creating the intense and euphoric “rush” users desire and forcefully “imprints” the “I gotta have it again” craving that users are all too familiar with. Cocaine could be snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously and is very harmful to the brain and the heart.

Slang/Street Names

Coke, snow, flake, lady, toot, blow, big C, candy, crack, joy dust, stardust, rock, nose boulders, free-base.


Cocaine affects the Central Nervous System and the Peripheral Nervous System by blocking the re-uptake of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE) and dopamine (D), which will cause the rapid and intense up but will also cause the severe crash as these neurotransmitters are depleted. Tolerance to cocaine occurs quickly, because the NE and D are depleted. As this occurs, the user needs more in order to feel the same effect. Users of cocaine frequently report they are chasing the first high they experienced from their first hit of the drug.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Abuse/Dependence

Acute effects of cocaine abuse cause the person to have an elevated blood pressure, a rapid heartbeat, increased respiration and temperature, sweating, tremors, decreased appetite and increased sexual stimulation. Cocaine users may demonstrate increased energy, talkativeness, elation and hyperactivity, along with pressured speech, dry mouth and urinary retention. High doses of cocaine will produce anxiety, excitation, panic attacks, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia and violence.

Chronic effects of cocaine use may produce slurred speech, illogical thought processes, abdominal pain, vomiting, skin rashes, difficulty urinating, psychosis, heart attacks, cerebral hemorrhaging, convulsions and of course death.

Withdrawal and Overdose

Cocaine users will experience depression, agitation, anxiety and intense craving for more of the drug followed by fatigue, distorted sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, suicidal or homicidal ideation, and anhedonia, or the absence of pleasure from the acts one would normally receive pleasure in doing. Overdose could cause seizures, heart attacks, elevation in blood pressure and temperature, which could lead to cardiovascular shock and even death.

If you are struggling and abusing cocaine, please consider asking others for help, by clicking here.

TeleHealth/Video counseling sessions are available for those who prefer to meet online – Dr. McGill

Businesswoman presses button psychological counseling online on virtual screens. technology, internet and networking concept.

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About Dr Ken McGill

Dr. Ken McGill is an ordained minister and has been involved in counseling for more than 25 years. Dr. McGill holds a Bachelor's degree in Religion from Pacific Christian College (now Hope International University), a Certificate of Completion in the Alcohol and Drug Studies/Counseling Program from the University of California at Los Angeles and a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. Dr. McGill received his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Family Psychology from Azusa Pacific University in May, 2003. Dr. McGill's dissertation focused on the development of an integrated treatment program for the sexually addicted homeless population, and Ken was "personally mentored" by dissertation committee member Dr. Patrick Carnes, a pioneer in the field of sex addiction work. Dr. McGill authored a chapter in the text The Clinical Management of Sex Addiction, with his chapter addressing the homeless and sex addiction. Dr. McGill is also a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the States of Texas and California and Mississippi, and is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, through the International Institute for Trauma and Addictive Professionals (IITAP). Dr. McGill had a private practice in Glendora, CA (Aspen Counseling Center), Inglewood, CA (Faithful Central Bible Church), and Hattiesburg, MS (River of Life Church), specializing in the following areas with individuals, couples, families, groups and psychoeducational training: addictions and recovery, pre-marital, marital and family counseling, issues related to traumatization and abuse, as well as depression, grief, loss, anger management and men's and women's issues. Dr. McGill also provided psychotherapeutic treatment with Student-Athletes on the University of Southern Mississippi Football and Men's Basketball teams. Dr. McGill served as the Director of the Gentle Path Program, which is a seven-week residential program, for people who are challenged with sexual addiction, sexual anorexia, and relationship issues. Dr. McGill also supervised Doctoral students in the Southern Mississippi Psychology Internship Consortium with the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. McGill was inducted into the Azusa Pacific University Academic Hall of Honor, School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences, in October, 2010. Dr. McGill currently works as a Private practice clinician with an office in Plano, Texas, providing treatment with people who are challenged in the areas mentioned above.