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cocaine-abuse-treatment

Cocaine is a powerful, addictive stimulant drug. It is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means it has high abuse potential. Due to its addictive nature, a person who experiments with the drug may become addicted, in fact, cocaine addiction has plagued many Americans, but few understand the level of risk associated with the misuse of this addictive drug.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful, addictive drug made from South American coca leaves. More than 100 years ago, the chemical known as cocaine hydrochloride was isolated from this plant. This allowed for cocaine to be used as the main ingredient in tonics and elixirs to prevent numerous illnesses. It was used initially as an anti-pain medication during surgeries and was even put in Coca-Cola.

Since then, doctors have learned that this addictive substance can adversely affect brain structure and function. Doctors may still use it, though, as an anesthetic for certain surgeries involving the eyes, ears, and throat.

Cocaine is a street drug and is often seen in a white, powdery form that can be smoked, snorted or injected. It’s referred to as coke, snow, powder, and blow and can be diluted (cut) with cornstarch, talcum, flour, or baking soda. It may also be altered with other drugs such as procaine, amphetamines, and heroin. Increasingly, fentanyl is being added to cocaine, which can lead to a deadly fentanyl overdose.

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a stimulant and gives the user a boost of energy and alertness. When someone uses cocaine, their brain increases dopamine levels, a natural chemical messenger that controls the brain’s pleasure center. This can create feelings of energy and alertness, often referred to as a “high”. Cocaine is addictive because of the physical and psychological effects on the brain. It is reported that over 25% of users develop an addiction to this drug.

The physical addiction to cocaine occurs when the body becomes dependent on it to function normally. Without cocaine, the body begins to undergo withdrawal, which may be painful. Cocaine fulfills psychological needs, such as feeling more comfortable in social settings and overcoming feelings of depression.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

When seeking treatment for cocaine addiction, it may be necessary to seek an inpatient rehab. This provides an opportunity to work with a therapist or addiction professional to address the behaviors and thought processes that contributed to substance use.

Most inpatient treatment facilities have medical detox centers that treat the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine addiction. Though there are no currently approved medicines for cocaine addiction, an individual will receive around the clock medical supervision and care to ease their symptoms. Below is a list of common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal:

Cocaine Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

  • Slowed thinking or difficulty focusing
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Reduced sex drive and inability to be sexually aroused
  • Anhedonia or ability to feel pleasure
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Feeling chills, tremors, muscle aches, and nerve pain
  • Increased craving for cocaine
  • Increased appetite

Some people may have a recurrence (relapse) of their cocaine use disorder. This is not a failure, the best way to deal with relapse is to return to or continue attending support group meetings, therapy and other activities which benefit recovery. Below are warning signs of a relapse.

Cocaine Relapse Warning Signs

  • Increase in lying
  • Feeling stressed and not using healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress levels
  • Bottling up emotions and avoiding others
  • Spending more time with friends who use
  • Increase in cravings
  • Not going to meetings or follow up aftercare programs
  • Engaging in other compulsive activities such as overeating, gambling, overworking, and over-exercising
  • Planning an opportunity to use
  • Glamorizing past use to minimize negative consequences
  • Falling into negative or addictive thinking patterns
  • Poor health care routine and not taking care of self

For those that are nervous that a relapse may happen, here are some helpful tips to help along the way.

  • Monitor negative thinking or extreme thinking
  • Create reminders of quitting is important
  • Reach out to support systems, whether it is a trusted friend or family member
  • Attend a 12-step program
  • Schedule an appointment to see a therapist/addiction professional as soon as possible
  • Create a relapse prevention plan (this is offered at many drug addiction treatment centers before discharge)

Sometimes it might be necessary to re-enter a treatment center. From a study of 300 people, 44% returned to a treatment center after 2.6 years of completing their initial treatment. As such, it is crucial to remain committed to a clean and sober lifestyle and to know help is always available.

Are you or a loved one struggling with cocaine addiction? You are not alone. We are here for you, and we are here to help.