About Cocaine Addiction
The Process of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine works by increasing levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain. When these neurotransmitters occur in larger concentrations than normal, the person experiences feelings of extreme happiness, alertness, and energy. If the drug continues to be abused, the person will become unable to release these feel-good neurotransmitters on their own, and they become dependent on the substance just to function.
Cocaine was once thought to be a safe medication and was even used in children’s teething drops, soda, and cough syrup. Today, we know much more about the dangers of cocaine and it is primarily used as an illicit recreational drug, although it is used medically to aid in certain medical procedures.
Dangers of Cocaine Use
Cocaine is a dangerous drug and leads to many side effects and can even cause sudden death. Immediate effects of excessive cocaine use include:
- Increased heart rate
- Paranoid delusions
- Elevated blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Heart arrhythmias
- Sudden cardiac death
Long-term effects of cocaine use include:
- Insatiable hunger
- Persistent runny nose
- Suicidal thoughts
- Tolerance for the substance
- Lung trauma
- Chest pain
- Hoarse voice
- Shortness of breath
- Flu-like symptoms
- Tooth decay
- Dry mouth
- Blood clot formation
- Decrease in cartilage in nostrils
- Autoimmune disease or connective tissue disease
- Decreased immune function
- Kidney disease and kidney failure
- Hemorrhagic stroke
- Heart attack
Cocaine is no longer the most abused substance in America, and its abuse has actually decreased in many communities over the past decade. However, this means that other drugs, such as heroin and fentanyl, have replaced cocaine as drugs of choice. Cocaine use is still a concern in America today, as the following statistics show.
According to the National Institutes on Health (NIH):
- In 2014, there were an estimated 1.5 million current (past-month) cocaine users aged 12 or older (0.6 percent of the population).
- Adults between the ages of 18-25 abuse cocaine more than other age groups, but people of all ages engage in cocaine abuse.
- More men than women abuse cocaine.
- There were over 3,000 male overdose deaths and 1,000 female overdose deaths in 2014.
- Almost one-quarter of drug-related emergency room admissions were caused by or connected to cocaine abuse or addiction (more than 505,000 of the 1.2 million drug-related ER visits).
- Cocaine is also the most common drug found in addition to alcohol in alcohol-related emergency room visits.
- Over one in three drug misuse or abuse-related emergency department visits (40 percent) that involved cocaine.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
- Young people as young as 8 years old have been known to try cocaine, and many begin using this dangerous drug at ages 14-15, while ages 16-17 have the highest prevalence of cocaine use among adolescents.
- Many young people first experiment with stimulants through the abuse of ADHD medications like Ritalin.
- More than five percent of high school students report using cocaine during their years in high school.
- 3.3 percent of high school and college students report being current users of cocaine.
Cocaine is not physically addicting, and it does not cause very severe withdrawal symptoms. It is psychologically addicting, however, and detoxing from cocaine can cause vivid and scary dreams, insomnia, increased appetite, irritability, and slowed psychomotor coordination.
Even though withdrawing from cocaine is not dangerous, it is not easy, and many people experience cravings and struggle to remain sober. It is important, therefore, that cocaine withdrawal be accompanied by therapy and support, in order to remind the person why they want to be sober and help them understand the changes they are experiencing. Treatment Options for Cocaine Addiction
There are several options for care for cocaine rehab. The first stage of rehab and the most structured is residential treatment. During this phase of recovery, the individual will move into the treatment center, where they are supervised and provided with basic needs. The therapy during inpatient treatment is intense and is offered for several hours every day. Residents in this type of cocaine addiction treatment find that they can focus better on their recovery and sobriety when they don’t have to worry about working, managing relationships with loved ones, and maintaining responsibilities. Instead, those in residential treatment benefit from healthy meals that are provided, adequate sleep and rest, healthy interactions with treatment providers and peers, and recreational activities. All activities throughout the day are focused on healthy living and help build the foundation for a sober lifestyle long after rehab is done.
The next level of care for cocaine addiction treatment is outpatient or intensive outpatient therapy. During this phase of recovery, the individual is free to live at home and commute to the facility daily or a few days a week for treatment. When not in sessions, they are expected to remain sober and to resume some of their normal responsibilities. Many people return to work at this time and become more engaged in family life and other activities. It is important during outpatient rehab that the individual minimizes stress in their life, in order to prevent relapse while they are still new to sobriety.
As the person becomes more solid in their recovery, they can slowly get back to the life they once enjoyed. This doesn’t mean recovery is over, however. In order to prevent relapse, the person should remain connected to counselors and peers from their recovery program and should participate regularly in support group meetings. All of these engagements help the newly sober individual focus on clean living and provide them with encouragement and support when needed.
Choosing the Right Program
A trusted rehab program will incorporate a variety of therapy models in order to reach clients in different ways. Common therapies for cocaine treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step programming, support group therapy, individual counseling, and family counseling. Other methods are also beneficial to many, such as yoga therapy, art and music therapy, and meditation.
When families and loved ones look for the right treatment program for someone with cocaine addiction, the first step is to look at the facility’s philosophy and certifications. These can be found by talking to staff at the center or finding information through an online search database. Each rehab facility should be fully licensed in their state and should possess the certifications required to offer the kind of care they provide.
Other factors families must consider are cost and insurance coverage for a program. Intake staff at each facility should be able to answer questions about the cost of the program and help families work through insurance coverage and restrictions.
One of the most important aspects of a good rehab facility is its ability to individualize treatment. Each person going through recovery is unique and has their own history, needs, and goals. In order to provide effective programming, a treatment center needs to assess the individual and based on the assessment offer a treatment program that will work for them.
Do I Need Cocaine Rehab?
Many people are convinced that they can stop using cocaine anytime they want. It is true that withdrawal symptoms are minimal for cocaine addiction, but the habit of using is not so easy to break. Cocaine use becomes such a part of the addict’s lifestyle that when they actually try to stop, they find themselves quickly feeling like they want to use again. Because cocaine is so often combined with other drug use, it is possible that the individual is addicted to the other substances and needs to go through professional withdrawal and treatment for more than one substance.
If an individual wants to stop using cocaine and believes they can quit on their own, they should attempt to go 30 days without using. If they are unable to abstain for that time, they really do need help and should find a professional rehab center. Families of addicts should be compassionate and understanding, but should not stand by and watch their loved one continue to use cocaine. This drug is dangerous, and long-term side effects, sudden deaths, and overdose are risks associated with cocaine use, and therefore loved ones should seek help as soon as possible.
Many excuses stand in the way of the cocaine addict getting the help they need. Most would argue that they don’t really have a problem. Others claim cost or inadequate insurance coverage are keeping them from enrolling in a treatment program. Other concerns such as fear of failure, concern about one’s reputation, and impacts on family life are all barriers to treatment. However, when we look at the cost of cocaine addiction, its health impacts, impact on job performance, relationship strain, and risk of death, the inconvenience of enrolling and participating in rehab does not seem so bad.
For families that are unable to convince a loved one to enroll in cocaine treatment, the help of an interventionist might be necessary. Interventionists are professionals that are skilled at helping families talk to their loved one and presenting addiction treatment as a necessary and attainable step. An interventionist will walk the family through the entire enrollment process and will help them find the right treatment program for the individual and then help convince the addict to accept treatment.
Cocaine Treatment at The Ridge
The Ridge is a residential treatment program located just outside of Cincinnati. We offer help for all different kinds of drug and alcohol addiction, and our expert team of providers helps create the ideal treatment program for the individual’s needs. We offer supervised detox, followed by inpatient therapy and counseling. Our facility is welcoming and offers a home-like atmosphere. We are situated on 51 beautiful acres of land that is used for recreation and enjoying nature. Our on-site chefs provide nutritious meals that help with recovery, and our physician-directed programming uses proven techniques for success.