Substance use disorders come in all shapes and sizes. From opioid addiction to amphetamine dependence, finding yourself trapped in the grasp of an illicit substance has become increasingly common within this day and age.
Out of the 24 million Americans who have admitted to using illicit substances over the past year, 19.6 million have reportedly been diagnosed with an actual substance use disorder. This equates to one in ten Americans having a serious substance abuse problem. Perhaps more alarming, there is no indication that this trend will decrease.
Learning to identify dangers associated with specific substances can aid in increasing warning-sign awareness for individuals concerned for their loved ones. It can also serve as a viable educational tool for addicted individuals struggling to process the depth of their disease due to misinformation on how the substance is infecting their body and eroding their physical and mental health.
This article will focus specifically on alcohol vs. cocaine: how each substance impacts an addict’s physical health, brain functioning and emotional stability.
While the effects of cocaine use vary for every individual, the physical and mental toll this stimulant has on a person is undeniable. This nervous system stimulant can provide the user with an initial sense of euphoria and confidence, but these feelings are always short-lived.
Once ingested, cocaine begins to attack specific parts of the body, from dramatically increasing the heart rate to altering brain chemicals and response mechanisms. Cocaine tricks the mind into producing copious amounts of dopamine, which, in turn, throws the entire body out of rhythm and increases the likelihood that users will transition from minimal use to habitual use very quickly.
Cocaine’s unique ability to stimulate the central nervous system forces the body into overdrive:
Cocaine can also leave an addict unable to achieve the rest necessary to heal the body, prohibiting essential recovery from cocaine use and thrusting an individual into a circular pattern of physical deterioration.
Cocaine’s detrimental impact on brain functioning can also increase an individual’s susceptibility to mental health disorders, including extreme stretches of depression, excessive generalized anxiety and bouts of psychosis triggered by chemically-induced insomnia and dramatic fluctuations of dopamine levels.
Most are unaware that alcohol is the single leading candidate of substance addiction within the United States. One in eight American adults, or 12.7 percent of the population, currently meets the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder. This has been attributed to our nation’s constant desire to connect alcohol consumption with enjoyable moments.
Whether it be wine during the holidays, beers with coworkers or a stiff drink after a long day, alcohol consumption has become synonymous with everyday life. The problem is that people have become numb to the devastating impacts that excessive alcohol consumption can have on their mind and body, willingly ignoring the hazards for reasons unknown.
Excessive alcohol consumption, or drinking more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women, can result in:
As for the mind, heavy alcohol consumption—even on a single occasion—can throw the delicate balance of neurotransmitters off course. Alcohol can cause your neurotransmitters to relay information too slowly, so you feel extremely drowsy. Furthermore, it can trigger mood and behavioral changes, including depression, agitation, memory loss and even seizures.
Definitively, it’s hard to say which is worse, as every individual will react to each substance differently. Additionally, symptoms, side effects and consequences all depend on how a substance is abused.
Too many people rationalize their substance use, minimizing their addictive behaviors or justifying them as a means of reward throughout their hectic lives. This type of validation creates a scenario in which both accountability and sensibility are ignored in favor of a perpetuating cycle of addiction and maladaptive personal decisions.
Regardless of your substance of choice or how hopeless you may feel living with your addiction day in and day out, with the right help and support, sobriety is possible.
Taking the time to educate yourself on the real dangers of both cocaine and alcohol use is the first step toward change.
The beauty of achieving true success and sobriety through Christ is the fact that He is bigger than our addictions and stronger than our compulsions. Throughout all of our faults and failures, He continues to intercede on our behalf and provide the means of overcoming the obstacles we face if we have the courage to place our faith in Him.
At Covenant Hills, we help you get your life back on track by focusing on your mind, body and spirit through our Christian-based cocaine and alcohol addiction treatment programs.
With the help of one of the most experienced and acclaimed addiction treatment teams in the country,
you can achieve sobriety and return to the person you were made to be.
National Center for Health Statistics. Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the 2016 National Health Interview Survey. Accessed August 24, 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/earlyrelease201705.pdf.
The Washington Post. Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the 2016 National Health Interview Survey. Accessed August 24, 2018.