For decades, cocaine addiction has been something the United States’ been battling. A 2019 survey found that over 671,000 people over 12 reported using cocaine for the first time last year. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can be highly addictive and is linked with numerous physical and mental health problems. However, with the right cocaine addiction treatment, many people can recover.
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What is Cocaine Addiction?
Cocaine is hydrochloride salt in its powder form. In this state, people can snort it, inject it, or swallow it. This delivery method instantly affects how the body reacts to the substance and how it affects the brain. To this date, Cocaine remains the second most used drug in the United States.
Cocaine is highly addictive, mainly because the drug impedes the brain from discarding dopamine – a chemical associated with reward, motivation, and emotion. This produces a very short-lived feeling of euphoria. However, long-term use of cocaine can restructure the brain.
Eventually, the brain triggers the body to crave the substance to function correctly. That’s what we call an addiction.
Addiction is usually present in those who depend on crack, but it can be physically dependent and not addicted. Cocaine dependence can develop in only a few months of binge use. Addiction develops more rapidly when a drug is smoked (like crack), which is why it takes several days for addiction to develop.
To satisfy the criteria for the diagnosis of cocaine dependence, only 3 of the following conditions must be present according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders:
- Developing a tolerance for the euphoric effects of cocaine
- Constant worries for obtaining and using cocaine.
- Continuous use of cocaine despite adverse consequences
- People experience withdrawal symptoms
- Inability to reduce the number of cocaine uses
- Job loss increased absenteeism or failure to find work due to their cocaine use
- Using crack in large doses when available
Effects of Cocaine Abuse
The adverse effects of the substance can happen after only one hit. Continued cocaine abuse in all its forms carries short- and long-term impacts; cardiac complications, including heart attacks, can occur. People who abuse cocaine are often malnourished, as users neglect healthy eating habits when on a drug binge. Cocaine also affects the liver and kidneys, leading to renal failure in some cases.
Other effects of cocaine abuse include:
- Impaired cognitive function
- Severe high blood pressure
- Acute coronary syndrome
- Risk of strokes
- Abnormally high blood temperature
In addition, crack cocaine users will also experience damages to their nasal cavity, which causes nosebleeds and loss of sense of smell. “Crack lung” can also occur, which happens when people smoke cocaine. This can lead to fever, coughing up blood, respiratory failure, and labored breathing.
Take Our “Am I a Drug Addict?” Self-Assessment
If you’re unsure whether you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, take our complimentary self-assessment quiz below. The evaluation consists of yes or no questions that serve as informational resources to assess the severity of your cocaine use disorder. The test is confidential, free, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction
Because cocaine is usually snorted, injected, or smoke, it’s easy to recognize the signs of cocaine abuse by seeing white powder residue around the nose and mouth, burn marks on the hands and lips, track marks on the arms and legs, and drug paraphernalia in the person’s room or clothes.
Common signs of cocaine abuse include:
- Showing up late or missing school or work
- Not caring about things that used to matter to them
- Not keeping promises
- Getting in trouble with the law or breaking the rules
- Getting violent with other people
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Dilated pupils
- Runny nose
- Sudden weight loss
- Impaired sexual function
- Inability to smell
- Difficulty swallowing
- Violent behavior
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
There are thousands of treatment centers in the country, but not all of them treat cocaine addiction. Those looking for help need to find a rehab center that offers treatment for cocaine abuse. It is also essential to find a treatment facility specializing in dual diagnosis to address any co-occurring mental conditions. Keep in mind; there are no FDA-approved medications to treat cocaine addiction. So, most programs rely on behavioral therapy instead.
Inpatient programs are one of the best ways to control cocaine addiction. These programs provide a safe environment where people can get clean without being tempted to use cocaine. Most importantly, they’ll have the supervision and support to manage withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and any psychological side effects of withdrawal.
Most inpatient rehab programs last between 30 to 90 days, but estimates believe the longer someone stays in treatment, the better their chances of recovery.
A residential treatment program should include some of these treatment options:
- Mental health counseling
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Contingency management
- Group therapy
- 12-step or alternative programs
- Aftercare planning
- Relapse prevention education
It’s important for people recovering from cocaine addiction to have a support system in place. Participation in support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA) is one of the best ways to prevent relapse. These groups connect people in recovery who are facing similar challenges and experiences.
Of course, there are different groups tailored for people in recovery from cocaine addiction. It’s encouraged that people try other groups until they find the chapter or methods that best align with their needs. The most popular support groups for cocaine abuse include:
After completing an inpatient or outpatient program, many people benefit from staying in a sober environment, supported by peers and staff that provide medical services, job opportunities, and other resources as they reintegrate.
Aftercare planning programs provide a safe environment for people to navigate the early recovery days. Here, patients work on life skills development, relapse prevention and start preparing to reintegrate into society.
Often, patients enroll in intensive outpatient programs at this stage. These programs are designed to visit a facility to receive treatment during the day and return home at night. It’s a good fit for patients that have demonstrated they do not need 24-hour monitoring.
Finding Cocaine Rehab Centers
If you or someone you know is suffering from cocaine addiction or another substance use disorder, it’s never too late to seek treatment. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we will guide you through each level of treatment and what services are offered at our South Florida rehab center.
We focus on providing comprehensive treatment solutions that address addiction from multiple angles. We thoroughly assess your mental and physical health to determine the best rehab program for your needs.
Recovery from cocaine addiction is a lifelong journey that we know doesn’t end when you leave rehab. Our programs offer aftercare planning to set you on the right path to long-term recovery. Part of what makes us unique is that we set realistic goals and a treatment plan from the beginning to make sure we’re setting you up for success. Call us today at 866-308-2090 and speak with a caring addiction counselor to learn about our rehab programs.