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Health and legal risks of cocaine abuse and dependence

A growing number of states have approved marijuana use for medicinal purposes. A few states now permit recreational use. The remaining states, including Wisconsin, have no-tolerance marijuana aligned with federal laws that consider the drug a valueless, dangerous substance.

There are no such legislative controversies about cocaine. It's a drug lawmakers in all states agree is harmful and illegal in any form. A 2008 national drug use survey estimated 1.9 million people in the U.S. used cocaine, including 1.4 million identified abusers or dependents.

Cocaine use was linked to nearly one-fourth of all drug-related hospital emergencies in 2008. The stimulant creates a feeling of temporary euphoria by elevating levels of a pleasure-enhancing neurotransmitter. Abuse and addiction are common due to the drug's addictive nature and short-term effects – five to 30 minutes.

Powdered cocaine can be inhaled. Some users inject a water-cocaine mix or smoke crack, a crystalized form of cocaine, for a much shorter but more intense high. Along with dependence, some cocaine abusers develop ongoing medical problems or die from drug-related strokes or heart attacks. The overdose rate soars for poly-drug users, people who mix cocaine with other drugs like heroin.

Recreational drug use quickly can become an addiction with substances like cocaine. Beyond the potential damage to physical and mental health, cocaine dependence creates an expensive need. Dependent users become vulnerable to arrests for drug possession, delivery or distribution causing life-altering legal problems.

Attorneys with Kohn Smith Roth understand the possible consequences faced by defendants charged with cocaine offenses. Cocaine possession is a serious charge that can be made worse when authorities suspect possession is for something other than personal use. The severity of charges increases according to the quantity of cocaine in a defendant's possession.

A criminal defense attorney will protect a defendant's civil rights. Lawyers also dispute unfair charges and advise defendants of possible drug court alternatives.

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