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Drugs Cocaine and addiction

J.T. says the key to staying clean is being honest with himself. "I am responsible for myself," he says. "And I'm responsible to others. If I do drugs or sell drugs, I'm hurting other people. I don't want to live like that anymore."

People who use cocaine risk losing their relationships and their lives. Consider these facts:

• The risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C increases among cocaine abusers.

• Researchers have found that when cocaine and alcohol are combined, a third substance, cocaethylene, is created. It intensified cocaine's euphoric effects and may increase the risk of sudden death.

• Children are more likely to abuse drugs during periods of major transition. These times can include puberty, during a move to a new town or city, or when parents divorce.

• Cocaine use can damage the part of the brain involved in thinking and making decisions.

• Short-term effects of cocaine use include constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety.

• Once the drug leaves the brain, the user experiences a "coke crash" that includes depression, irritability, and fatigue.

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