What Is Cocaine?
For thousands of years, people in South America have chewed or otherwise ingested coca leaves (the source of cocaine) for their stimulant effects. The purified chemical was separated from the plant and in the early 1900s, purified cocaine was the main active ingredient in many tonics, and elixirs meant to treat a variety of different illnesses. As cocaine became a substance that more and more people consumed, more and more people started to develop an addiction to cocaine. Cocaine addiction is so severe that people who suffer from it must attend cocaine detox followed by rehab at one of the many cocaine rehab centers in the world.
Cocaine is a very addictive stimulant. In fact, a study published in The Lancet that evaluated the danger, dependence, and likely misuse of 20 drugs found that cocaine is the second most addictive drug. Second only to heroin. Many people start using cocaine as a way to stay alert during exams or to enhance work performance in the professional world, but cocaine is so addictive that before those people know it, they’re dependent.
How Does Addiction Happen?
Addiction happens because cocaine increases the natural chemical messenger in the circuits of the brain. This chemical messenger is dopamine and it’s related to the control of movement and reward. In a normally functioning brain, dopamine recycles back into the cell that released it, which shuts off the messaging between the nerve cells.
When you introduce your brain to cocaine, the dopamine is prevented from being recycled. This causes large amounts of dopamine to build up in the space between the cells, which stops their communication. The surge of dopamine in the reward circuit of the brain reinforces the drug-using behavior.
The brain’s reward circuit adjusts to the extra dopamine which causes it to lose its sensitivity to it. As a result, people use stronger and more frequent doses to get the same feeling that they got the first time and to ease the symptoms of withdrawal.
Once this behavior starts happening addiction develops. Once addiction does develop, the only way to overcome it is to attend cocaine detox followed by cocaine rehab at one of the many cocaine rehab centers.
Who Is at Risk for Cocaine Addiction?
Anyone who uses cocaine is at risk for addiction. But factors that increase your risk are:
- A family history of dependence on cocaine or other drugs
- Addiction to alcohol or other drugs
- Mental illness, such as depression
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
If you or someone you love show the following signs of cocaine addiction, you should think about seeing a medical professional for an assessment:
- An inability to stop or reduce using
- Symptoms of withdrawal when not using
- Desire to keep using despite health complications
- Spending excessive time and money looking for cocaine
- Runny nose or nosebleeds (from snorting powder cocaine)
- Irritability and paranoia
- Psychosis and hallucinations
- Nagging cough (from smoking crack)
- A negative effect on the quality of life, relationships, and employment
How People Use Cocaine
Most cocaine users take cocaine by these methods:
- Orally—Rubbing the drug onto the gums
- Intranasally—Snorting the drug through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues.
- Intravenously—Dissolving the drug in water and injecting it directly into the bloodstream which heightens the effects.
- Inhalation—Inhaling the vapor into the lungs while smoking cocaine is almost as rapid as by injection. This quick effect is one of the reasons that crack became so popular in the mid-1980s.
Effects of Cocaine Use
Cocaine use varies from occasional use to repeated or compulsive use. Whatever route a person chooses to take cocaine has the potential to lead to absorbing large amounts of toxic substances. This can cause heart attacks, strokes, or seizures—which can all result in sudden death.
Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use
- Extreme sensitivity to touch, sound, and sight
- Intense happiness
- Feeling paranoid
- Decreased appetite
Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use
- Loss of the sense of smell
- Problems with swallowing
- Tears in the intestinal tract
- Increased risk for stroke and seizures
- Difficulty paying attention
- Memory difficulties
- Bleeding in the bra
Why Cocaine Users Are at Risk for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis
Drug addiction and intoxication can ruin your ability to make good decisions. This lack of judgment can lead to risky sexual behavior, including trading sex for drugs and sharing needles. This increases a cocaine user’s risk of becoming infected with diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C (HCV). Unfortunately, there are no vaccines to prevent infections from HIV or HCV.
Studies that looked at patterns of HIV infection and progress have seen that cocaine use speeds up HIV infection. At the same time, it hampers immune cell function and promotes the spreading of the HIV virus. This increases the damaging effects on different types of cells in the brain and spinal cord.
It has also been found that infection with HIV likewise increases the risk of co-infection with HCV, which affects the liver. Liver complications are common and many co-infected people die of chronic liver disease and cancer.
How is Cocaine Addiction Treated?
Because cocaine addiction is a complicated disease, treatment needs to address the biological changes in the brain along with the social, family, and environmental factors. It is critical to match the best treatment program to the individual needs of the person struggling with addiction. To receive the best cocaine addiction treatment, you should attend cocaine detox followed by rehab at one of the top, specialized cocaine rehab centers.
Cocaine Detox and Withdrawal
Detoxification is the process of letting the body rid itself of the drug’s toxins by stopping its use. Individuals who are addicted to cocaine go through withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it during cocaine detox.
Withdrawal symptoms can last for days and even months for those people who are long-term heavy users. Cocaine withdrawal doesn’t typically have visible symptoms like the vomiting and shaking associated with heroin and alcohol withdrawal but may cause the following symptoms:
- Increase in appetite
- Slowed thinking
- Sleep difficulties
- Suspicion and paranoia
- Extreme cravings for cocaine
Withdrawal is usually safe but there are no approved medications to help ease the effects. People who have severe cocaine withdrawal symptoms need inpatient treatment or hospitalization to help them through cocaine detox.
Although some people may consider performing a cocaine detox on their own at home, it is a risky choice if the symptoms become severe. In fact, cocaine detox that isn’t supervised by medical and addiction treatment professionals may result in extreme depression, psychosis, or suicidal thoughts.
Residential, or inpatient, facilities work to treat all aspects of addiction. Residential treatment occurs in a safe, secure, drug-free atmosphere.
During residential treatment at one of the many cocaine rehab centers, the patients’ time is supervised and structured to help them learn how to make healthy choices. Through residential treatment at cocaine rehab centers, patients will also start to understand why they developed cocaine addictions in the first place. The residential cocaine addiction treatment programs can last anywhere from several weeks to a year.
Outpatient rehab at cocaine rehab centers is best for people whose cocaine addiction is not as severe or long-term as those requiring inpatient treatment. Individuals in outpatient treatment spend their days in a rehab facility and then go to their own homes in the evening. Outpatient treatment at cocaine rehab centers is possibly a suitable option for cocaine addicts with supportive family and friends living with them at home.
Behavioral therapies have been shown to be effective in helping treat people with cocaine addiction. Thus, the long-term treatment plan for cocaine addiction usually includes individual counseling and behavioral therapy.
It has been found that treatment can be done in a residential program or on an outpatient basis. Treatments focused on behavior are often used with medications. Some common behavioral therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) — CBT is effective for long-term abstinence and preventing relapse. It is a type of talk therapy that helps people learn how to identify and change their destructive thought patterns that have an adverse influence on behavior.
- Contingency Management (CM) — This therapy option uses incentives such as a voucher for a dinner out or a gym membership to encourage people to stay clean and attend therapy sessions. It’s a helpful way to help patients maintain abstinence and continue their treatment program.
- Behavioral Family Therapy — Behavioral family therapy is based on the idea that members of a family influence, and are influenced in turn, by each other. Interactions among family members and how they contribute to family function or dysfunction are examined.
As previously mentioned, there are no medications specifically to treat cocaine addiction. However, medications with other purposes can be helpful, such as antidepressants for the depression that may come with cocaine detox and withdrawal.
Besides depression, there may be other previously undiagnosed mental conditions that co-occur with a cocaine addition that need to be treated. When a mental illness co-occurs with a drug addiction, it’s called a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder. It is common for there to be underlying mental illness issues that drive addictions.
Alternative and Holistic Therapies
There are other solutions to help overcome cocaine addiction. Some treatment facilities offer exercise, acupuncture, and herb therapy. These holistic therapies treat the whole body, mind, and spirit.
Due to the lasting changes in the brain caused by cocaine use, addiction can be hard to treat and relapses are likely. In terms of drug addiction, relapse refers to returning to drug use after a period of abstinence.
Relapse does not mean that the individual failed at recovery. Actually, many addiction specialists consider relapse to be a part of recovery.
The relapse rates for cocaine addiction are very similar to the relapse rates for other chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. Relapse doesn’t mean the treatment didn’t work. It just means it needs to be reexamined and adjusted.
The author of Understanding Relapse, Terence Gorski, doesn’t see relapse as a single event, but as a process. Like knocking over a domino and watching the ripples until the last one falls. That first domino could be something like a single stressful event that leads to more stress or poor choices. Due to a single stressful event, an individual could wrongly feel that he or she has no other choice but to relapse and use drugs to cope.
When people complete addiction treatment, they should keep in mind the warning signs of cocaine relapse. Having awareness of the warning signs of cocaine relapse will hopefully help prevent relapse from occurring. Some of the warning signs of cocaine relapse include:
- Not continuing with aftercare programs such as counseling, support groups, or 12-step groups.
- Feeling over-stressed and not dealing with it by using healthy coping skills learned in treatment. This can lead to an increase in cravings for cocaine.
- Taking part in other compulsive behaviors such as gambling, overeating, overworking, and overexercising.
- Being in a drug-using environment or socializing with drug-using friends.
- Feeling a lack of support from family and friends.
- Returning to addictive thinking and negative thoughts.
- Hiding emotions and isolating yourself from others.
- Glamorizing your past drug use and downplaying negative consequences.
- Lying to others or engaging in secretive behavior.
- Believing that you can control your use of cocaine or any other drug.
- Looking for a relapse opportunity.
What to Do If You Relapse
If you relapse, don’t give up and beat yourself up over it. Reach out to a supportive person such as a friend, your addiction sponsor, or your counselor. Together, you may decide that returning to treatment would be best for you. A research study of over 300 people who completed treatment for cocaine addiction showed that 44% of people were re-admitted into treatment within 2-6 years after completing their original treatment.
Treatment at Florida Center for Recovery
Florida Center for Recovery recommends that those that suffer from cocaine addiction attend cocaine detox and residential treatment at one of the many cocaine rehab centers. Attending cocaine detox and cocaine addiction treatment at a professional drug addiction rehab facility is particularly important for cocaine addicts to do because the risk of drug relapse is high without a structured treatment.
At Florida Center for Recovery, we offer a comprehensive series of evidence-based addiction treatment programs, educational addiction lectures, as well as alternative and holistic healing therapies to heal the body, mind, and spirit after suffering from addiction.
Individuals looking for a cocaine rehab center in Saint Lucie County can find specialized addiction treatment programs at Florida Center for Recovery (FCR). Through our inpatient cocaine rehab program, we offer innovative therapies to address the multidimensional aspects of the disease of addiction while simultaneously teaching personal accountability in a safe, nurturing, real-life environment. Our rehab programs also treat clients for cocaine addiction and any related co-existing mental health disorders.
As a trusted leader in addiction and mental health treatment, we here at Florida Center for Recovery pride ourselves on offering programs that few other treatment centers in Florida provide. These programs include:
- Rapid Resolution Therapy® for Trauma Treatment
- Chronic Relapse Program
- Pregnant Women Program
- Military/First Responders Program
In addition, we offer an intensive family recovery program that has been designed to enhance the quality of our clients’ relationships with their loved ones while providing education, empowerment, and hope.
Waiting to receive cocaine detox and addiction treatment will only worsen a cocaine addict’s addiction. Thus, if you ever start to notice the signs of cocaine use and addiction, receive addiction treatment here at Florida Center for Recovery.
Addiction isn’t a problem that solves itself. You need the support and expertise of experienced, caring staff. Florida Center for Recovery can provide that for you.
Florida Center for Recovery Can Help You
Individuals looking for cocaine addiction treatment in Saint Lucie County can find it at cocaine rehab centers like that of Florida Center for Recovery (FCR). Through the inpatient cocaine rehab program here at Florida Center for Recovery, we offer innovative therapies to address the multidimensional aspects of the disease of cocaine addiction while also teaching personal accountability in a safe, nurturing, real-life environment.
Our rehab programs treat clients for a wide variety of drug addictions, including that of cocaine, and any related co-existing mental health disorder. To learn more about Florida Center for Recovery and the addiction treatment services that we can provide you with, contact us today.