Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug and its use-reinforcing high derives primarily from its actions on the dopamine neurotransmitter system in the brain. It is a white powder that is commonly snorted, smoked, and injected. Its popularity as a recreational substance is in part due to its perceived positive effects on mood, motivation, and energy heightening concentration, increasing sociability, decreasing shyness, and more.
Cocaine is a drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse , about 15 percent of people in the United States have tried cocaine. Cocaine is also known as coke, C, flake, snow, crack, and blow. In fact, It’s highly addictive, and in the United States, recreational use is illegal. In addition, dopamine is associated with the generation of ‘euphoric’ emotions, the regulation of movement, and the processing of reward cues.
However, cocaine use may also increase the risk of several adverse health issues including stroke, seizure, and multiple organ damage. In addition, the compulsion to use this dangerous drug will often lead individuals suffering from cocaine addiction to using so much cocaine. However, once the drug begins to leave the system, users may experience unpleasant reactions including anxiety, confusion, irritability, and agitation. These negative effects may lead to the regular use of cocaine, to avoid the negative symptoms, and that may drive the development of tolerance where more frequent and/or escalated use is needed to achieve the same level of positive effects as well as to temporarily mitigate the negative effects of withdrawal.
Cocaine and Addiction
Cocaine is a stimulant, meaning it increases alertness and energy. In fact, it affects the neuropathways in your brain, leading you to feel talkative, energetic, and euphoric. Addiction to cocaine can develop quickly, even after trying it only a few times. An addiction can be physical, meaning your body craves the drug. It can also be mental, meaning you strongly desire the drug’s effects. Moreover, Cocaine can be consumed in a variety of ways.
Signs and Symptoms
Typical signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction include:
- A tolerance for the drug, requiring large amounts to get high
- An inability to stop or reduce usage
- Withdrawal symptoms when usage stops
- A desire to keep using even when health complications arise
- A negative impact on quality of life, relationships, and employment
- Spending excessive time and money looking for cocaine
- Psychosis and hallucinations
- Irritability or anxiety
- Disappearing for binge sessions
What does cocaine look like? Maybe you are concerned that your loved one is abusing cocaine, but don’t know what to look for. Most often found in white powder form, cocaine may be cut with any number of ingredients, some more harmful than others. Freebase cocaine or crack may look like small rocks that are a whitish color.
Cocaine Treatment and Therapy
There are many treatment options available for people struggling with a cocaine use disorder. These may be delivered in inpatient facilities, which accommodate the patient for the duration of their treatment. There are many therapeutic offerings and treatment settings available for someone seeking to recover from a cocaine use disorder. Treatment can take place in an inpatient or residential center that provides room and board and round-the-clock supervision and support. Other programs might be outpatient-based, which can offer a similar range of therapeutic interventions to their inpatient counterparts but do not require on-site residence. Cocaine addiction is a complex disease, with physical, mental, social, environmental, and familial factors.
Treatment Methods for Cocaine Addiction
First. Treatment Facilities – Residential treatment programs work to cover all facets of addiction. These programs can last for several weeks to a year. And they often include support groups, vocational rehab, or therapy.
Second. Behavior Treatment – It is showing promising results for helping people through cocaine addiction. An example of behavioral treatment associated with effective abstinence from cocaine use is Contingency Management (CM) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Third, there are no medications designed specifically to treat cocaine addiction, some medications with other purposes can be helpful, such as antidepressants.
Last. Alternative Therapies – is the other solutions to help overcome cocaine addiction include exercise, hypnosis, acupuncture, and herbs. But more research is required to determine the effectiveness of these techniques on addiction to cocaine.
Principles of Addiction Treatment
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) outlines several principles of addiction treatment based on data the organization has collected for the past 40 years. These principles aim to improve the odds of success in treatment by ending (or moderating) drug use, lowering the risk of relapse, and allowing the person with an addiction to rebuild or restart their lives. These principles include notions like:
- Medications can be an important part of treatment to address drug abuse or the mental health aspects underlying substance use.
- Treatment should be directed to the individual person rather than to their drug(s) of choice.
- Counseling and behavioral therapies are highly utilized and the best available treatment options for drug abuse.
- Treatment can be helpful even if the client initially goes involuntarily. (Eventually, the client’s voluntary participation in treatment will influence their recovery path.)
- Addiction is a multifaceted problem, but one that can be treated effectively.
This final thought is an important one. Many agree that behavioral therapies are an essential element to treat substance use, but with so many options, it can be challenging to know what forms of treatment are available, how they differ, and which is best for the individual. It should also be mentioned that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) does not believe that there is anyone approach that is appropriate for every person. It is important to learn about the different styles of therapy when attempting to find the right program for yourself or someone you love.
Effects of Cocaine Addiction
For a short time, cocaine has stimulating effects on the body. It causes a naturally occurring neurotransmitter called dopamine to increase its concentration in the brain. This causes feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Cocaine causes your dopamine levels to rise to cause the user to feel euphoric. Cocaine prevents dopamine, and other neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin, from being taken up into the nerve cells. This allows large amounts of neurotransmitters to accumulate and stimulate the surrounding nerve cells. This heightens the pleasurable sense of euphoria. Cocaine can also minimize your desire for sleep and food. Some people report that cocaine helps them think and perform tasks more quickly. Many users begin to crave the feelings that cocaine creates.
Frequent use of cocaine can cause you to develop a higher tolerance to the drug. A high tolerance means it takes more cocaine for you to feel its effects. This may lead to using greater amounts of it, which can impact your mental and physical health.
Psychological Effects of cocaine addiction include:
- Impaired judgment
- Repetitive or abnormal behaviors
Physical Effects of cocaine addiction include:
- Unhealthy weight loss
- Increased heart rate
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Heart arrhythmia
- Heart attack
Cocaine addiction is also associated with medical conditions that include:
- Respiratory diseases
- Weakened immune system
- Gangrene of the bowels
Causes Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine affects neurological systems in your brain. Cocaine use, especially repetitive use, can alter systems associated with pleasure, memory, and decision making. When someone is addicted, their ability to resist urges becomes impaired, making it harder to quit.
All stimulants act to enhance the extracellular concentrations of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Stimulant drugs can block the transport of these neurotransmitters.
Repeated exposure to cocaine results in neuroadaptation. This includes sensitization (increased drug response) and tolerance (decreased drug response). Physical tolerance to the effects of cocaine can occur after just a few uses. This results in needing more and more of the drug to get the same effect.
Effects of Cocaine Withdrawal
Addicted users who stop using cocaine will undergo an initial crash, known as withdrawal. Withdrawal can be intense and difficult due to cravings and uncomfortable side effects. Effects of cocaine withdrawal include:
- Sleep disturbances
Withdrawal from cocaine can cause intense discomfort. And this can cause a strong desire to use the drug again. Even when withdrawal symptoms have subsided, sudden cravings are common. Support systems such as friends, family, treatment facilities, and other people recovering from addiction, can help you push through this phase. The organization We Level Up offers resources and a community for people recovering from cocaine addiction.
Cocaine addiction is a complex illness that requires treatment. Cocaine addiction has a serious impact on your mental and physical health and can result in premature death.
If you or a loved one is addicted to cocaine, reach out to a doctor, or someone else you trust who may be able to help you explore treatment options and find other sources of support. It affects the central nervous system. Like other stimulants, cocaine gives you an energy surge. That in turn boosts your alertness, leaving you feeling a “high” from the drug.
Other common, short-term effects of cocaine include:
- A feeling of “jitters” or restlessness
- Decreased appetite
- A temporary feeling of intense happiness or pleasure
Long-Term Effects of Using Cocaine
Cocaine can have long-term side effects, too, especially after prolonged, habitual use. Long-term ways cocaine can affect the brain include:
- Extreme weight loss
- Loss of smell/olfactory function
- Mood swings
- Movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease
- Severe paranoia
- Auditory hallucinations
- Irregular heartbeat
- Death by overdose
Most short-term side effects of cocaine wear off within a day or two. But long-term side-effects can be permanent. Sometimes, the long-term side effects of cocaine use are a sign of brain damage.
Physicians can diagnose cocaine addiction. If you reach out to your doctor about your cocaine use, they will start by asking you questions about your lifestyle, habits, usage, and dosage. It’s important to be straightforward and honest so you can get the right treatment. Sometimes a health event, such as a seizure or stroke, will prompt a doctor to bring up the possibility of cocaine addiction to you if you also have other symptoms. Your doctor may use a drug test to confirm cocaine use. A urine drug test may only test positive for cocaine for about 4 days after last use. But the longer you’ve been using cocaine, the more it can accumulate in your body, and the longer it takes to metabolize.
Risk for Cocaine Addiction
Anyone who uses cocaine is at risk of becoming addicted. Factors that increase your risk of cocaine addiction are:
- Family history of cocaine or other drug dependence
- Addiction to alcohol or other drugs
- Mental illness, such as depression
If a health event prompted your visit to your doctor, they’ll recommend treatment options and help supervise your withdrawal once you’re stable. To diagnose a cocaine addiction, your doctor will discuss your current usage and health history. And they will try to determine the degree of your dependence and will suggest treatment options. A user who wants treatment will need to commit to stopping
At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. All working as a team providing Cocaine Addiction Treatment for successful recovery. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
Your call is private and confidential and there is never any obligation.
 National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – What is Cocaine? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)