Cocaine Addiction Treatment: Signs, Symptoms, Risks, and Resources
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that stimulates the brain’s pleasure centers. Young people often use it at parties, but few know how dangerous and addictive it is.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant derived from the coca plant native to South America. It is a Schedule II drug and is sometimes used in medical settings as an anesthetic for the respiratory tract. Recently around 4.8 million people used this drug within the last year. Its street names include speed, snow, blow, and white gold.
Side Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine’s most prominent effect is euphoria, followed by increased alertness, paranoia, irritability, and hypersensitivity. Stimulants may cause people to act strangely or violently. Stimulantsalso enable people to think and perform tasks faster.
How is Cocaine Taken?
Cocaine is a powder that is almost always snorted through the nose. This causes instant effects. Some may melt and inject the powder or rub it on their gums. Smoking, injecting, and snorting cocaine provide the fastest effects.
Cocaine Quick Reference
Commercial & Street Names
Coke, snow, blow
Snorting, smoking, injection, oral
Statistics on Cocaine Use, Misuse, and Addiction
Cocaine overdose deaths tripled between 2013 and 2018. Because it is such a popular recreational drug, few take it seriously but can be fatal, especially when mixed with other substances.
Effects of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine appeals to many young people because of its euphoric and energetic effects. It is often taken with alcohol at parties to enhance the experience. The euphoria is followed by dysphoria or a crash that causes headaches, nausea, and fatigue.
Other short-term effects of cocaine use include dizziness, chest pain, insomnia, low blood pressure, weight loss, dilated pupils, muscle spasms, and irregular heartbeat.
Long-term effects of cocaine include toxic effects on your cardiovascular system, mood disruption, lung damage, nasal tissue damage, malnourishment, and hallucinations.[?]
Can You Overdose on Cocaine?
Many people overdose on cocaine every year. It is likely among those who use the drug for the first time and those who abuse cocaine in large quantities. Overdose is also possible when mixing cocaine with other illicit drugs.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Overdose
Common symptoms include raised body temperature, racing heart, high blood pressure, paranoia, and panic. Some may become violent or may have psychotic symptoms. Others may pass out and become unresponsive.
What to do if you suspect someone is overdosing on Cocaine:
Call 911 as soon as you see someone who has overdosed on cocaine. Try to keep the person calm and stable until the paramedics arrive. If the person is unresponsive, check for a pulse. If you find none, begin CPR until help takes over.
What to do if you suspect someone is overdosing on Cocaine:
A long-term risk is tolerance and overdose. Using cocaine for a long time requires the person to take higher doses to get the same effect. Taking larger doses increases the risk of overdose. It can also damage one’s internal organs and brain.
Cocaine Addiction and Abuse
Some use cocaine a few times for fun and never try it again. Others may use it once and become addicted immediately and Hollywood would have you believe that it’s an acceptable “white collar drug.”
Unfortunately, this misleading glorification has deadly consequences. Cocaine triggers the brain functions that activate pleasure and motivation, making it particularly difficult to stop a cocaine habit. Approximately 20% of drug overdoses in recent years invovled cocaine.
Is Cocaine Addictive?
Cocaine is very addictive because it targets the brain’s pleasure centers. It also makes it difficult for the brain to produce its own feel-good hormones, making the brain reliant on the drug.
Signs of Addiction to Cocaine
Secretiveness is a common sign of cocaine addiction. Some may steal money from their friends and family to buy more cocaine. Others may go to parties or ask their friends for more cocaine. Some may resort to criminal activities to obtain more.
Cocaine Addiction and Mental Health
A cocaine addiction can cause anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. These feelings are worsened by co-occurring disorders, such as Bi-Polar Disorder, impulse control disorder, and drug-induced psychosis.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
It takes most people a few months to get through addiction treatment. The cost varies depending on your treatment program and insurance. The process may involve detox, various therapies, and aftercare. Each plan is unique to fit the individual.
Detoxing is necessary for clearing your body of drugs and starting your recovery journey. Paranoia is a common withdrawal symptom associated with early cocaine detox, making it particularly dangerous to attempt this process alone. A medically-monitored environment for detox is safe and offers comfort measures to alleviate your experience.
Inpatient care is perfect for those who need something more intense than an outpatient program. You will sleep at the treatment facility and receive therapy during the day. Treatment is flexible, so you can still balance your life with your treatment.
Therapies Used in Cocaine Addiction Treatment
The presence of both a substance use disorder and a mental health condition will result in a dual diagnosis. These co-occurring disorders can make recovery more difficult. Common co-occurring disorders include:
- Alcoholism: Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder often correlates with the abuse of other substances.
- Depression: People may abuse cocaine to avoid depressive feelings
- Anxiety: Struggling with chronic fear and apprehension can be associated with prescription or drug misuse to manage symptoms.
Cocaine Detox and Withdrawal Management
Detoxing is a difficult process as your brain has to relearn how to function without the presence of cocaine. This may take a few days or a week, but you will have professional support at a medically monitored detox treatment center. During the withdrawal timeline, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms, but a medical detox offers comfort measures and daily care.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Uses Cocaine?
Cocaine is a popular party drug among young people. Some may also use it to boost energy or work quicker. In 2021, cocaine was just behind cannabis as one of the top most-used illicit substances in the United States, ranking at number two.
How Do People Become Addicted to Cocaine?
Cocaine targets the brain’s pleasure and motivation center, making it particularly difficult to stop a cocaine habit. As the drug artificially produces positive sensations of pleasure, your brain loses the ability to feel them naturally. This can spark increased doses or more frequent use of cocaine.
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