Essay Sample on Relapses among Cocaine Abusers

Published: 2022-11-29
Essay Sample on Relapses among Cocaine Abusers
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Drug abuse
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1907 words
16 min read

Cocaine was introduced in America in the late 1800s. Being a new drug, many people did not fully comprehend its effects and therefore, a significant number of Americans turned to it as their drug of choice. During the late 1800s, there were no laws to prohibit the sell and usage of the drug and entrepreneurs touted it as a harmless elixir. Even medical authorities at the time failed to see the negative effects of the drug. On the contrary, they praised for its "magical powers." (Karch, 1996). For instance, Robert Christison, a respected toxicologist reported on the amazing effects of the drug. He stated that because of the drug, he had been able to walk for more than 15 miles without experiencing any exhaustion. He also stated that the drug had prevented him from experiencing feelings of hunger or fatigue. Such reviews and reports greatly contributed to the cocaine epidemic which later occurred in the United States. They are also an illustration of the limited information people had in regards to the issue of cocaine usage. Successfully combatting the issue of relapses and cocaine addiction will require more government agencies to work together in creating awareness of the effects of the drug and also coming up with treatment models.

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Problem Description

As the devastating effects of the drug have become known, many people have chosen to stay away from the drug. This has, however, proven to be difficult. Cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs. The addictive nature of the drug is illustrated by the fact that it is possible to become dependent on the drug just after using it once (Wallace, 2014). Usage of the drug produces feelings of euphoria which explains why many addicts struggle to stop the habit. Once the effect of the drug wears off from a victim's body, the individual craves for more of the drug because they get accustomed to the feeling. Relapse rates among users of cocaine are very common. Many victims are frustrated with themselves since most of them struggle to beat the habit. The use of cocaine has been shown to cause significant changes in an individual's brain which increases the risk of relapsing (Wallace, 2014). It is a common occurrence for cocaine victims to relapse six months after their treatment. The issue of cocaine relapse is a major problem since it can even occur after five or more years of treatment (Preston & Epstein, 2011). However, individuals who successfully abstain from usage of the drug for at least 2 years have a better chance of completely recovering.

Research indicates that 24% of recovering addicts relapse within a year of treatment. These victims go back to weekly usage of the drug and approximately 18% of them opt to seek treatment once again. Individuals who relapse are mostly those who stop their addiction treatments prematurely. According to Gorski (2011) the relapse process does not happen at once or in single form. The author states that relapsing occurs through a series of progressive steps. In the last step before one relapses, the person feels like they do not have many other options other than taking the drug. The author singles out stress as a major contributing factor to relapses. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016), cocaine usage in the United States has remained constant since 2009. The organization also estimates that there are 1.5 million individuals in the USA who are current users of the drug. Most victims are said to be above 12 years of age. The report also states that individuals in the ages of 18-25 stand a higher chance of becoming addicted to the drug. Another Report by the Drug Abuse Warning Network indicates that in 2014, cocaine use was responsible for 505,224 out of the 1.2 million visits to emergency departments reported that year. The statistics illustrate that indeed, many individuals are struggling with addiction and relapses and only a few manage to fully recover.

Epidemiological Overview of the Problem

According to TEDS, 8% of hospital admissions which were reported in 2010 were attributed to cocaine abuse. It has also been reported that a majority of individuals who relapse are men. Men also make up the bulk of those individual addicted to cocaine. However, in recent times, more women have started embracing the drug. Many of the victims of cocaine use are in denial about the consequences of the drug. A significant number of them say they only use the drug occasionally and state that it does not interfere with their professional or even educational goals. They continue to ignore warnings about the effects of the drug as they fail to see the consequences of its use early enough. For most cocaine users, the risks and effects of the drugs start to occur a few years into continued usage. This has made it difficult for government agencies to convey the notion of risk associated with the drug usage. Many individuals choose to ignore the warning signs about the use of the drug since they believe that the experimental usage of the substance does not lead to severe effects. The public needs to be educated about the dependency problem that experimental cocaine usage can lead to. Research indicates that cravings for the drug usually replace all of an individual's rational thinking (Karch, 1996). There have been reported cases where parents choose to ignore their desires of good parenthood because of the cravings they experience.

It has been reported that a person's desire to relapse or use the drug is caused by powerful physiological processes which occur in ones' brain. Relapses mostly occur because of triggers and it is therefore important for recovering patients to avoid them. It is, however, difficult to avoid triggers since some of them are unavoidable. For instance, it is common for an individual to be stressed due to lack of money or even simply because of work. Also, friends who use the drug can be powerful triggers. It is difficult to avoid the occurrence of all these circumstances which makes relapsing quite easy. Complete recovery requires a strong will, dedication and discipline which most victims lack. A significant number of US citizens are at risk of relapsing. According to research conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 38 million Americans have reported to have ever used the drug in their lifetime. Due to the addictive nature of the drug, these individuals need close monitoring as they can easily relapse. The survey also reported that instances of relapsing and cocaine usage are higher among whites compared to blacks and Hispanics. The report states that 16.9% of Whites have previously admitted to using the drug compared to 11.6% of Hispanics and 9.7% of blacks (Bernstein et al., 2006). The 1970s saw a surge in the usage of cocaine. It was generally believed that the powdered form of the drug was safe. Many affluent individuals in the society would use it for recreational purposes. This is illustrated by the higher number of whites who use it since the white Americans have traditionally been more economically empowered compared to other communities. The drug only became more available to the underprivileged members of the society such as blacks and Hispanics after it was converted to the crystalline form commonly known as crack.

Among adolescents, the drug is mostly used by high school seniors. As of 2014, it was reported that 2.6% of high school seniors were users of the drug (Wallace, 2014). Usage among high school children is lower compared to the previous years where the percentages were higher. One government institution involved in the fight and regulation of the drug is the National Institute on Drug Abuse better known as NIDA. The mission of the organization is to apply scientific concepts in the fight against the usage of the drug. The organization aims to see an improvement in the health of individuals who have previously been affected by the use of drugs. The success of NIDA in bringing relief to victims who suffer from cocaine addiction depends on the efforts of other governmental institutions such as the US Department of Health and Social Services. These organizations need to closely work together in copying with the various problems associated with cocaine usage. For instance, both of them need to provide guidance and direction to victims who relapse and also offer public education on the effects of using the drug. Due to a renewed effort by several government institutions involved in the fight against drugs, there has been a significant drop in the number of individuals using cocaine and other drugs. For instance, in 2013, NIDA partnered with AstraZeneca and the two institutions embarked on a mission to find a solution for drug addiction. The move is only one of the many that has been initiated by NIDA in previous times.

Consequences and Intervention Methods

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that the a steady increase in the number of deaths occurrences has been experienced since 2012 due to high cocaine abuse and overdose. The organization reports that in 2012 alone, there were approximately 4,400 deaths that occurred due to cocaine overdoses. In 2013, there were 4,900 deaths in connection to the same (Wallace, 2014). In 2014, the number rose to 5,400 while in 2015, it shot up to 6,800. The number of deaths in connection to cocaine relapses were alarming in 2015 and could only be compared to the statistics reported in 1999, a period when there was still a major cocaine problem. The government has spent a significant proportion of its budget in the treatment and fight against drug abuse. In the year 2000, the drug control budget stood at 18.4 billion dollars. The government also made extra efforts in 2004 in that it issued SAMHSA with a 100.6 million dollar grant that was to go towards a drug treatment initiative which the organization had established. Despite these efforts, statistics indicate that the United States is on the verge of experiencing a cocaine problem. The government therefore needs to put in more effort in combatting the scourge.

NIDA has been at the forefront of coming up with intervention methods in regards to cocaine abuse. In 2002, for instance, the organization partnered with Scholastic in a bid to provide more educational material to young adults so that they would be informed on the effects of cocaine and drug abuse (Bernstein et al., 2006). The organization has also partnered with several US agencies such as the US Department of Health and Human Services where the organizations hope to establish a research facility that will help in coming up with treatment models for cocaine and other commonly abused drugs.


Treatment for cocaine victims has proven to be difficult due to its highly addictive nature. Research has shown that most victims of the drug relapse in less than a year after receiving treatment. The government, through its several agencies, have made commendable efforts to fight off the issue of relapsing and addiction but more still needs to be done as there have been reports of new cocaine usage. Successful intervention and treatment of the disease will require a concerted effort of more public agencies and creation of more awareness regarding the effects of the disease.


Bernstein, E., Bernstein, J., Tassiopoulos, K., Valentine, A., Heeren, T., Levenson, S., & Hingson, R. (2006). Racial and Ethnic Diversity Among a Heroin and Cocaine Using Population. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 24(4), 43-63. doi:10.1300/j069v24n04_04.

Gorski, T. T. (2011, April 28). Understanding Relapse. Retrieved from

Karch, S. B. (1996). Cardiac arrest in cocaine users. The American journal of emergency medicine, 14(1), 79-81.

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