Cocaine Addiction

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive class A drug. It is derived from the coca plant and is known as cocaine hydrochloride in its purest form. Cocaine was commonly used for medical purposes in the 20th century but, following further research, its medical use is much less common today due its high level of potential for abuse and adverse effects.

Coke, C, Blow, Snow, and Charlie are all common street names for cocaine. It is the second most used illegal drug in the world, behind cannabis.

Cocaine can be found in the form of a white, off-white, or yellowish powder. Cocaine Hydrochloride is the purest form of cocaine, with a purity capacity of up to 98%, but is often cut with other ingredients, making uncut cocaine difficult to find. It is commonly snorted, but in its base form can be smoked, known as crack cocaine.

Effects of Cocaine

People generally use cocaine recreationally to achieve its desirable effects, like euphoria and heightened sense of alertness, as well as a boost in confidence and a state of arousal. These desirable effects occur as a result of activating the brain’s dopamine reward system. The same system is activated when a person takes part in positive, enjoyable activities such as sex, eating, exercise, and socialising. However, cocaine has a much stronger effect on the reward system than the activities mentioned.

The intense euphoria and other desirable effects it produces, however, only last from 15 to 90 minutes on average, and is followed by a come-down, accompanied by feelings of irritation, agitation, and a desire for more cocaine. For this reason, many users repeatedly intake the substance, making it a high-risk substance for psychological dependence and addiction.

There are numerous physical and psychological side effects of cocaine addiction that have adverse health effects. An increased heart and breathing rate occurs immediately after use. Longer term effects include insomnia, a reduced appetite, nosebleeds, liver and kidney damage, and high blood pressure. Psychological effects include restlessness and reduced patience, and in the long term, psychosis.

While snorting (insufflation) of cocaine is a high risk activity with great potential for abuse, smoking crack cocaine intensifies the effects almost immeasurably. Effects are felt immediately but only last for a few minutes, increasing the likelihood of repeated use and therefore dependence and addiction. Following the use of crack cocaine, one’s likelihood of experiencing a heart attack, seizure, and chronic respiratory issues is significantly increased.

Cocaine addiction can disrupt normal functioning in daily life. Those suffering are likely to experience strained interpersonal relationships, decreased quality of performance in work or academic life, difficulties with law enforcement, and even suicidal ideation.

How do you know if someone is abusing cocaine?

The consequences of cocaine addiction can be devastating both to the individual and their loved ones. If you or a loved one are experiencing problems related to cocaine use it is vitally important to seek professional help. Addiction to any substance is a progressive condition and should be approached and treated as early as possible to avoid health complications and overdose.

Noticing the signs of cocaine abuse can be difficult as those who abuse are likely to be secretive about it, but there are characteristic behavioral and social indicators that suggest an addiction.

Irresponsible behavior and spontaneity often accompany excessive cocaine use. Money theft, or asking to borrow money with no reasonable explanation as to why, avoiding confrontation about one’s whereabouts and actions, and compulsive tendencies to use despite an attempt or repeated attempts to stop are all behavioral signs of cocaine addiction.

A person suffering from a cocaine addiction may also present certain social behaviors that indicate their addiction. Such behaviors include mood swings, isolation or withdrawal from others, states of anxiety and tension, and intolerance to things others would be less irritated by.

What causes a cocaine addiction?

Genetic and environmental factors are commonly believed to be the causes of cocaine addiction, though there are no specific determining causes. Genetic and environmental factors highly influence a person’s capacity to become psychologically dependent on a substance, as they are the greatest influencers of how we think and behave. Growing up in a household where a family member was an active addict, for example, may increase one’s likelihood of use, as the behavior may seem like a normal way to cope with stressors in life.

Cocaine is inherently a highly physically addictive substance. A user will typically feel the urge to use again after coming down from their first use in a given period of time. Frequent use can lead to psychological dependence, which is a prerequisite for addiction.

What are the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal?

The harsh, adverse effects of cocaine withdrawal are among the most common motivators as to why an individual would continue to use cocaine, despite an attempt to stop or an awareness of the risks of use. Physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal that follow cessation of use include unbearable urges to use, feelings of exhaustion, paranoia, and depression, feelings of anxiety or apathy, extreme mood swings, intense nightmares, and high irritability and agitation.

Repeated use of cocaine encourages the building of neural pathways in the brain’s dopamine reward system that motivate a person to use cocaine in order to release dopamine. The brain naturally wants to release dopamine, so if the shortest line from A to B is a straight line, cocaine use will make the most logical sense in one’s efforts to achieve that feeling. The pathway has been built through repetition, and in comparison, decreases the positive effects of other methods of achieving a dopamine release when cocaine is not present, like eating, exercise, and sex.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Though cocaine addiction has significant negative impacts on a person’s daily life, it is treatable and does not need to be suffered alone. At Brazos Recovery Services we offer comprehensive treatment for cocaine addiction in men, beginning with a full assessment and a medically supervised detoxification program. The purpose of detox is to rid the body of cocaine and toxins so that recovery can begin.

Withdrawal, as mentioned above, is an extremely difficult element of dealing with a cocaine addiction. The adverse effects of withdrawal often motivate a person to forego recovery and relapse. At our rehabilitation center we offer intensive residential treatment with the support of highly skilled and professional psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counsellors, and medical staff to guide patients through the withdrawal process and encourage continuation of recovery.

For greater flexibility in recovery we also offer an outpatient treatment program to allow patients to continue with daily duties and professional responsibilities.

Various effective treatment modalities are applied in our program, including one-to-one therapy to address any underlying health conditions that may be influencing a patient's decision to use, and to educate patients on methods of self-management to be used in recovery and long after primary treatment has been completed. Group therapy is also included as an important element of addiction treatment. In group therapy a patient can share and listen to advice on stories about recovery, learn important coping skills for when they are struggling, and form a strong social network of people who support each other on the road to recovery.

If you or a loved one are struggling with a cocaine addiction then don’t hesitate to contact us. Our treatment programs offer comprehensive care to patients and our highly skilled team of professionals are diligent in their goal of helping patients to achieve life-long recovery.