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What Causes Cocaine Addiction?
Cocaine produces feelings of well-being by increasing the level of certain brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, that cause those good feelings. Over time and with repeated use, cocaine causes changes in brain cells that alter the way the cells respond to certain neurotransmitters. These changes result in a dependency on cocaine because the now-altered brain can’t feel well without it.
Although anyone who uses cocaine is at risk of developing a dependency on the drug, some factors increase the risk of addiction. These risk factors include:
- Family history. People who have close relatives who have suffered from drug addiction are more likely to develop an addiction themselves.
- Abuse of other substances. Cocaine abuse often occurs in conjunction with the abuse of other drugs or alcohol.
- Use in childhood or adolescence. The earlier in life that cocaine is first used, the more likely the user is to develop an addiction.
- Mental illness. Drugs are often used as a coping tool by people with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental illnesses.
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