Difference Between Cocaine And Heroin | Banyan Treatment Center

Difference Between Cocaine And Heroin

difference between cocaine and heroin
 

People tend to have a lot of questions and confusion about drugs.

With so much information available, how do you know what’s right and wrong? Many people wonder whether drugs produce the same side effects as others. For instance, many people wonder if there’s a difference between cocaine and heroin. Our Texas treatment center shares an overview of heroin and crack cocaine that identify their similarities and differences.


What Is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug made from a natural substance called morphine, which is derived from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. Heroin comes in the form of a white or brown powder or a black sticky substance called black tar heroin. People use heroin by snorting, smoking, or injecting it, all of which produce the same side effects. Some people take heroin and coke mixed; a practice known as speedballing. Heroin works like other opioids by attaching itself to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body such as the stomach and lungs. The drug alleviates pain while activating the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Both chemicals play roles in functions like breathing, sleeping, mood, pleasure, and reward. When their levels are increased, a euphoric and pleasurable high can occur.


Common heroin effects on the body and brain include:

  • “Rush” of euphoria and pleasure
  • Feelings of well being
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushed skin
  • Heavy arms and legs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching
  • Impaired judgment
  • Difficulties concentrating
  • Going "on the nod," slipping back-and-forth between consciousness and semiconsciousness
  • Insomnia
  • Collapsed veins in people who inject it
  • Damaged tissue inside the nose in people who snort it
  • Infection of the heart lining and valves
  • Abscesses (swollen tissue filled with pus)
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pains
  • Liver and kidney disease
  • Lung problems like pneumonia
  • Mental illnesses like depression and antisocial personality disorder
  • Sexual dysfunction in men
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in women

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that can take over a person's life and affect their health, relationships, and career. Heroin often contains additive or cutting agents used by dealers and manufacturers to make production more affordable and profitable. Heroin cutting agents like sugar, starch, powdered milk, and household products can clog blood vessels, resulting in lung, kidney, and heart disease. Also, people who inject heroin tend to share drug paraphernalia, and, combined with impaired judgment, their likelihood of contracting diseases like HIV and hepatitis increases. Those who are addicted and do not receive care like our heroin detox in Texas are less likely to recover.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that can take over a person's life and affect their health, relationships, and career. Heroin often contains additive or cutting agents used by dealers and manufacturers to make production more affordable and profitable. Heroin cutting agents like sugar, starch, powdered milk, and household products can clog blood vessels, resulting in lung, kidney, and heart disease. Also, people who inject heroin tend to share drug paraphernalia, and, combined with impaired judgment, their likelihood of contracting diseases like HIV and hepatitis increases. Those who are addicted and do not receive care like our heroin detox in Texas are less likely to recover.


What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine, also known as crack or coke, is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drug derived from the leaves of a coca plant that’s native to South America. Cocaine works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, affecting such functions as mood, movement, and reward. Usually, dopamine is recycled back into the cell that released it, shutting off communication between cells. However, cocaine blocks dopamine from being recycled, causing it to build up between two nerve cells, a space known as the synapse. This flood of dopamine enforces rewards associated with drug use, leading to addiction.


Some common effects of cocaine include:

  • Happiness and energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High body temperature and blood pressure
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Muscle twitches
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of smell, nosebleeds, and trouble swallowing in people who snort it
  • Cough, asthma, respiratory disease, and pneumonia in people who smoke it
  • Bowel decay and stomach pains in people who ingest it orally
  • Increased risk of HIV, hepatitis, and other skin or bloodborne diseases in people who inject it

As a street drug, cocaine comes in the form of a white crystal powder. Street dealers often combine cocaine with additives or cutting agents like cornstarch, talcum powder, and flour that are physically similar to increase their profits. Other drugs are also often mixed with cocaine, including amphetamine and fentanyl. The risk of cocaine use largely stems from the additives it often contains. Users are either unaware or uncaring of these additives, raising their risk of adverse repercussions. A cocaine use disorder is a brain disease that requires comprehensive care for recovery. Banyan Texas offers a medical detox for cocaine during which it’s flushed out of the body, and patients receive treatment for their withdrawals.


What Is the Difference Between Cocaine and Heroin?


Drug Classes

There's a list of heroin and coke differences, one of them being their drug classes. Heroin is an opioid, a class of drugs that works by binding itself to opioid receptors to produce euphoria and pain relief. They're depressants that relax the body, slow activity in the brain, and impact basic functions like thinking, moving, and breathing. On the other hand, cocaine is a CNS stimulant that blocks the reuptake of dopamine in cells, flooding the brain with dopamine, increasing nerve cell communication, and contributing to side effects like extreme happiness and alertness.


Causes of Death

Another major difference between cocaine and heroin is their cause of death in users. Because cocaine increases alertness as well as activity in the heart, most cocaine users die specifically from cardiotoxicity. Cardiotoxicity is when the heart muscle is so damaged that it’s unable to pump blood throughout the body as it should, causing organ failure and other problems. Opioids are depressants that can decrease sensitivity to carbon dioxide in the respiratory system, causing irregular or shallow breathing, otherwise known as respiratory depression. Most heroin users die from respiratory depression. These symptoms in both kinds of users are most common when they overdose. Unfortunately, out of cocaine and heroin, only the latter has an antidote for overdose.


How Are Cocaine and Heroin Similar?


Both Contain Cutting Agents

Both crack and heroin contain additives or cutting agents used by dealers to make a bigger profit with less product. Many of these cutting agents, from household cleaners to paint thinner, the additives used in the production of both drugs increase users’ risks of health complications and overdose.


Both Are Addictive

The major similarity between cocaine and heroin is their potential for addiction. Both drugs are highly addictive, and most people who become addicted to either require residential drug treatment to recover. Some individuals even combine heroin and cocaine, otherwise known as speedballing, as these users believe that their side effects will counteract or lessen the blow of the other. Instead, both work to intensify the impact on the body and brain, further raising the chances of overdose and death.


Both Attack Neurotransmitters

Although both target different areas of the brain, cocaine and heroin ultimately work by impacting the release and levels of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine. Dopamine is the main chemical that reinforces addictive behavior by way of reward. When a person abuses cocaine or heroin, dopamine levels in their brain increase, signaling to the mind and the rest of the body that this is something it wants to experience again, which is how addiction happens.


Both Can Cause Heart Problems

Both heroin and crack cocaine are also linked to cardiovascular problems, although the latter more so than the former. Heroin and cocaine impact the cardiovascular system because both contain chemicals that aren’t meant to enter the bloodstream. These contaminants and toxins block the veins and arteries in the heart, preventing the flow of blood and making it more difficult for the heart to function properly. Lack of heart contraction, slowed heart rate (bradycardia), dilation of blood vessels (vasodilation), and an infection of the heart valves and linings (infectious endocarditis) are all common side effects of heroin and cocaine use.


They Can Be Used The Same Ways

Another similarity between cocaine and heroin is the ways they can be used. Both drugs can be injected, snorted, smoked, or orally ingested. However, heroin is most commonly injected, while cocaine is most commonly smoked. Regardless of how either is used, they're still just as dangerous and addictive.


So, are heroin and crack the same? No. While they may share similarities, these drugs are entirely different in their classes and how they affect the brain and body. What we do know, however, is that both are dangerous and addictive. If you or a loved one is battling any drug use disorder, we can help. Call Banyan Texas today at 888-280-4763 for more information about our residential treatment.


Alyssa
Alyssa
Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.


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