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Biological & Biomedical Sciences
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Biological Psychology (Essay Sample)

The paper was to briefly describe a drug and why it does what it does to a user. the drug of choice was cocaine whose both short term and long-term effects were to be discussed. THE PAPER WAS ALSO TO discuss if the drug is used to cure a disorder and how it achieves this purpose. source..
Biological Psychology- Cocaine Name Professor Course Date Cocaine is one of the most addictive stimulant drugs that have been in existence for years. The drug which is usually snorted, smoked or injected into the body in the form of a white powder known as cocaine hydrochloride is recognized as the one of the strongest stimulants that exists naturally. It is usually extracted from the coca bush or shrub known as Erythroxylon and was initially used as a stimulant in the medicinal tonics that were used to treat a myriad of diseases. Currently the drug is usually used in limited doses as a form of anesthetic for different surgeries (Chang, 2011). This stimulant as aforementioned can be inhaled, smoked or injected based on the chemical nature in which it is used. The white crystalline powder which is commonly known is cocaine hydrochloride which is usually diluted with other substances, including local anesthetic sugar, cornstarch and water, which is then injected into the blood stream. This stimulant can be smoked either when the hydrochloride is removed or in its form termed as freebase whereby it has not been neutralized using acids. This smokable form is known as crack due the crackling sound produced during the heating process (NIH, 2018). In understanding the way in which cocaine affects the brain and other components of the human body together with its short-term and long-term effects it is imperative to recognize that as a stimulant, cocaine offers a temporal feeling of euphoria, increased energy and alertness levels. This feeling of pleasure is usually resulted to the effects cocaine has on the ventral tegmental area of the brain which is one of the dopaminergic areas of the brain. The never cells that originate in this brain area extend to the nucleus accumbens which is responsible for the cognitive functions of recognizing and processing reward, motivation and pleasure (Zhang, Zhornitsky, Angarita & Li, 2018). Normally, when human being experience pleasure, this is usually accompanied by large amounts of dopamine being released into the nucleus accumbens by neurotransmitters from the ventral tegmental area. Dopamine is usually released by neurons which then bind themselves to dopamine receptors communicating and evoking the feeling of pleasure. Cocaine when consumed affects this normal brain functionality by blocking how dopamine is removed from the synapse leading to high accumulation levels of the same in the brain. This leads to the brain being in a state of repeated stimulation from the high receipt of neurons hence the temporary and high levels of euphoria experienced on the short term by cocaine users. Additionally, it also takes over the natural reward mechanisms of the brain encouraging individuals to repeat the act that gave them such levels of pleasure (Prisciandaro et al., 2014). In the short-term as described above, cocaine makes an individual feel a certain level of high when taken. An individual may feel more alert or active to their surrounding and in some instances the individual becomes more talkative. It has also been attributed to lower one’s appetite as well as the need to sleep hence some users pointing out that the drug helps them to perform a number of tasks quite quickly. Higher intensity levels of the temporal highness are usually experienced by individuals who inject the stimulant into the bloodstream as opposed to smoking or inhaling. The process of injection usually leads to higher temperature levels being experienced, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, dilated pupils and constricted blood vessels (Haake, West, Wang & Carelli, 2018). In the short-term, once the high comes to an end, individuals experience a sense of crashing due to lower levels in the blood. They become more irritable and seek to consume more of the drug. With increased amounts being taken, an individual’s high is elevated and this may lead to violent and erratic behavior. In such cases an individual may become paranoid, experience muscle twitches, anxiety, irritability and vertigo. This loss of control when using the drug is also attributed to the fact that cocaine affects the limbic system of the brain which is usually responsible for the control of emotions and also creation of memories in the human brain. The high experienced is therefore easy to remember since cocaine affects this area of the brain and this is how one gets addicted to the drug (Alta Mira, 2018). Taking into consideration that cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive drug, most users end up experiencing the long-term effects of cocaine as the brain is easily familiarized with the high pleasure levels derived from the drug. Since the drug affects the reward areas of the brain, the high levels of pleasure are recognized as a reward and an individual ends up seeking the drug repeatedly. With time, the brain adjusts to the high levels of dopamine being released and retained making an individual less sensitive or more tolerant to the same therefore one ends up seeking higher doses in pursuit of the same pleasure levels they felt as they began using the drug. Higher levels of cocaine when used may lead to addiction, mood disturbances, restlessness, hallucinations and psychosis where the person loses touch with the reality. Increased brain activity leads to increased heart rate and on the long-term cocaine users may even experience heart diseases, heart attacks and even strokes. Users who snort the drug on a regular basis may experience nose bleeding, running nose and lose their sense of smell and increased risk of septal perforation as a result of the drug’s vasoconstrictor properties which may lead to perforation (Chang, 2011). Smoking the same may damage the lungs while injecting cocaine leaves punctured wounds or marks on t...
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