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Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that can be very addictive. With that being said, addiction is a condition that affects millions of men and women in the United States, and in most cases require cocaine addiction treatment. The drug is typically consumed in powder form and snorted; however, it’s also smoked (know as freebasing) or injected.

Cocaine use is prevalent in US society, and according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) in 2012, 38 million people reported trying the drug in their lifetime.

Cocaine produces an increase in energy, confidence, and produces feelings of euphoria. It’s due to these desirable effects that it has a high potential for abuse. Abusing the drug can have devastating consequences if not adequately addressed.

Those who find themselves addicted to Cocaine find it to be challenging to break their addiction on their own, in which case professional help is needed.

The following can help provide valuable information regarding cocaine addiction and how cocaine abuse can be treated.

Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

Cocaine has a long history of abuse in the United States and was once believed to actually be a medical way of increasing one’s energy and alertness.

The drug was eventually found to be a significant drug of abuse, and the distribution of the drug was control and not readily available legally. The abuse of the drug received a resurgence in the latter half of the 1900s, but in recent times due to its expense and to the popularity of prescription drugs as drugs of abuse, it is not abused to the level that it was in the 1980s/1990s.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) releases yearly figures on the use/misuse of various drugs and even illicit substances. The figures for the previous year are released in the fall of the current year. At the time of this writing, the latest statistics available are the figures for 2016. According to that data:

  • In 2016 38,000,880 individuals reported some lifetime use of Cocaine.
  • Of the above individuals, 5,071,000 reported using the drug at least once within the previous year.
  • About 1,874,000 individuals reported using it within the month before the survey.
  • The figures were generally consistent with the numbers reported for the previous year (2015).

Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine is sold as a powder or in small rocks (crack Cocaine). It can be snorted as a powder, injected, or smoked.

The immediate effects of using Cocaine can include:

  • Euphoria (extreme happiness, feeling invincible, feeling empowered, etc.).
  • An increase or “rush” of energy.
  • Increased mental alertness.
  • Becoming very sensitive to sensory stimulation (sight, sound, touch, etc.).
  • Appetite loss.
  • Jitteriness, nervousness, irritability, and/or restlessness.
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there).
  • Suspiciousness or paranoid delusions (extreme or unfounded distress or suspiciousness of other people).
  • Other types of delusions.

In higher doses, the psychotic and negative effects of the drug predominate in individuals do not experience the same quality of euphoria or increase in mental alertness.

The effects of Cocaine are typically very short-lived as the drug does not remain in the system very long and is broken down quickly (it has a short half-life).

This means that individuals who use the drug will typically feel a rush of excitement and euphoria that is due to the massive release of dopamine.

This initial rush is followed by a “crash” due to the depletion of dopamine as the drug loses its effects. Individuals will attempt to binge on the drug to maintain the euphoric effects and avoid the crash.

The long-term effects of cocaine abuse include:

  • Nausea, increased body temperature, and/or increased blood pressure.
  • An increased heartbeat, dilated pupils, and twitches or muscle tremors.
  • Nasal problems from snorting the drug (a loss of smell, runny nose, nosebleeds, etc.).
  • Respiratory issues associated with smoking the drug (increased risk for infections, asthma, and respiratory distress).
  • Complications from injecting the drug (increased risk of contracting blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis, scarring or collapsed veins, and infections of the skin and other tissues).
  • An increased risk for cardiovascular problems/diseases including increased risk for heart attack or stroke.
  • Increased risk for liver damage, particularly of Cocaine, is combined with alcohol.

Alterations to the pathways of the brain that result in imbalances of neurotransmitters which can lead to problems with the person’s ability to experience pleasure, maintain their attention, learn and remember new information, control their impulses, and control their emotions.

Cocaine Withdrawal

Because cocaine use produces very intense euphoria, increases energy, and its effects dissipate rapidly, individuals will often continue using it until all of the drug is gone, or they cannot find any more of the drug

Regular use of the drug can produce a form of physical dependence and the withdrawal syndrome is listed under the withdrawal syndromes for stimulant drugs by the American Psychiatric Association.

The Most Common Cocaine Withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Insomnia or increased sleeping,
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain,
  • Distressing dreams
  • Intense cravings

Individuals undergoing withdrawal from the drug will typically not experience seizures unless they habitually use it with some other drug like alcohol.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine addiction can be difficult to break. Those with abuse disorders often require support for treatment professionals.

Cocaine addiction can be a complex disorder that can be rooted in a combination of mental, physical, emotional, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Addiction treatment offers a variety of therapies that help address these factors.

Many who are considering seeking treatment for addiction have questions about what a cocaine addiction treatment program consists of. 

Key elements of a cocaine addiction treatment

Personal Assessments

The first stage of treating cocaine abuse is to identify what underlying circumstances may be involved with one’s addiction. Addiction can be a complex disorder and may be rooted in a combination of mental, emotional, and physical factors. Such factors may include past trauma, co-occurring mental health conditions, and health disorder.

Assessing which factors may be playing a role in cocaine addiction is the first step in creating a custom treatment plan to help someone break their cocaine addiction.

Group Therapy

Group therapy can involve many themes and exercises and is a foundational component of most cocaine addiction treatment programs. Group therapy may include group exercises, discussion groups, or substance abuse education groups. Group therapy allows individuals to share thoughts and ideas with others who have shared experiences.

Group therapy helps to build a sense of unity and addresses issues often experienced by those with cocaine abuse disorders.

Individual Counseling

Private therapy sessions with an experienced addiction therapist is a critical component of Cocaine rehab. Individual therapy sessions allow clients the opportunity to discuss difficult emotions and thoughts in a private environment that feels safe.

Therapy sessions provide those in recovery an awareness of sources of mental and emotional distress and which help get to the root of cocaine addiction. Addiction therapists help clients resolve mental and emotional conflict using psychotherapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), which help clients reframe negative thought and belief patterns.

Complementary and Alternative Therapy

Cocaine addiction treatment programs can also incorporate the use of several alternative treatment modalities. Drug abuse can stem from a combination of mind and body conditions that require a broad range of therapies to correct.

Cocaine addiction treatments can also include:

  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Nutritional programs
  • Fitness programs
  • Art therapy
  • Sound Therapy

Cocaine Addiction Treatment Aftercare

Completing a cocaine addiction treatment program is the initial step in the recovery process.

For those who struggle with cocaine abuse maintaining abstinence remains an ongoing challenge. The goal of an effective aftercare program is to provide clients with the resources they need to maintain their sobriety, including assistance with job placement, providing local resources such as drug and alcohol meetings, introducing sponsors, and recommending a sober living house. Many clients choose to continue with OP services such as substance abuse counselings, drug testing, and supervision to help support their recovery post-treatment.

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