Cocaine Addiction and Treatment Options

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Cocaine Addiction And Treatment_

Cocaine addiction is a complex disorder that can cause problems in nearly all areas of a person’s life; including family, school, work, and community. Addiction is defined as a chronic disease of relapse wherein a person will have a hard time stopping drug use no matter what problems it causes in their life. Behavioral therapies can help a person change their thinking patterns and negative behaviors into healthy ones.

Deciding to go to rehab for a cocaine addiction can be one of the hardest decisions a person will have to make, but it can save their life. Though rehab is only the first step, it can teach someone to live a full life without cocaine. It often includes behavioral therapies and inpatient treatment.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine (methyl benzoylecgonine) is a central nervous system stimulant derived from the South American coca plant. For thousands of years, the coca plant was used by ancient Incas for the natural numbing remedy it produced. Just over the last hundred years or so, cocaine has been manufactured as a highly potent and addictive drug.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “the purified chemical, cocaine hydrochloride, was isolated from the plant more than 100 years ago. In the early 1900s, purified cocaine was the main active ingredient in many tonics and elixirs developed to treat a wide variety of illnesses and was even an ingredient in the early formulations of Coca-Cola.”

Cocaine is a white crystalline powder that can be snorted, injected into the veins, inhaled, or free based. It’s often diluted with legal substances like flour, talcum powder, cornstarch, and baking soda. Cocaine goes by a lot of other names like coke, blow, snow, and powder. Cocaine is also the base ingredient for crack—a smokeable, rock version of the drug.

Cocaine Addiction And Treatment_Graph

“No matter how cocaine is taken, it is dangerous. Some of the most common serious problems include heart attack and stroke. You are also at risk for HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, from sharing needles or having unsafe sex. Cocaine is more dangerous when combined with other drugs or alcohol,” (U.S. National Library of Medicine).

Today, cocaine is categorized as a schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. In other words, there are some legitimate medical purposes for cocaine, but it still has very high potential for abuse. For example, cocaine is still administered by physicians as a local anesthetic for some ear, throat, and eye surgeries.

Cocaine has gained a name for itself by high profile business people and celebrities. It’s also commonly abused by students and those who can’t imagine life without it. Cocaine addiction knows no demographic, race, gender, sexuality, or wealth. Unfortunately due to the nature of addiction, otherwise well behaved people might do things that they wouldn’t normally do in order to get cocaine, or the money to buy it.

What Are The Dangers Of Cocaine Abuse?

When someone uses cocaine, they often experience an intense euphoria that’s characterized by an intense rush of energy. This is partially due to the amount of dopamine that floods into the brain when a person uses the drug. The effects of cocaine occur almost immediately and can last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes; sometimes up to an hour.

Cocaine is also known to make a person feel extremely happy, excited, and energetic. Some of the other short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • extreme happiness and energy
  • mental alertness
  • hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • irritability
  • paranoiaextreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • ability to perform tasks faster
  • bizarre, unpredictable, and violent behavior
  • numbness
  • talkativeness

(National Institute on Drug Abuse – NIDA)

Cocaine Addiction And Treatment_Treatment FacilitiesAs cocaine wears off, the user may experience an intense crash. This is a result of the brain’s reaction to the rush of dopamine that it slows down production of. Some people feel depressed and tired for several days after cocaine wears off. It’s this feeling of depression and sometimes boredom that can make so many people seek out more of that same euphoria.

There’s a possibility of overdosing on cocaine as well. Cocaine claims the lives of thousands of people every year.

Part of the reason for so many overdoses is that as use persists, the amount of cocaine a person needs becomes greater, and they build up what is known as a tolerance. For a lot of people, this is where cocaine use becomes an obsession their brain becomes hooked on the chemical. At this point, many people have less and less of a choice to use the drug. Soon the obsession becomes a compulsion, and addictive behavior may feel as necessary as food, sleep, or water.

Cocaine use can also lead to insomnia which can keep a person awake all night. And as a person continues using the drug, the vicious cycle proceeds to distort their mind. Even after quitting cocaine, a person may experience intense cravings; sometimes even after several years of abstinence. The fact is that cocaine can dangerously alter the life of those using the drug, and also those around them.

The long-term effects of cocaine abuse may include anything from health consequences to legal, and relationship issues. The health consequences of cocaine may include:

  • constricted blood vessels
  • dilated pupils
  • nausea
  • raised body temperature and blood pressure
  • faster heartbeat
  • tremors and muscle twitches
  • restlessness
  • loss of sense of smell
  • nosebleeds
  • frequent runny nose
  • problems with swallowing
  • severe bowel decay
  • higher risk of contracting HIV
  • hepatitis C
  • other bloodborne illnesses

According to NIDA, “other long-term effects of cocaine use include being malnourished, because cocaine decreases appetite, and movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, which may occur after many years of use. In addition, people report irritability and restlessness resulting from cocaine binges, and some also experience severe paranoia, in which they lose touch with reality and have auditory hallucinations—hearing noises that aren’t real.”

How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated?

Not every person who’s suffering from a cocaine addiction will benefit from the same treatment program. That’s partly because some rehabs focus directly on the individual’s drug use, whereas others tend to lean more towards family relationships and being a part of society.

There are more than 14,500 drug treatment facilities in the United States. They all work towards the same thing—helping people see the rewards from recovering from drugs like cocaine. Drug treatment facilities provide behavioral therapy, inpatient and outpatient treatment, counseling, medication, case management, and other services for people suffering from addiction.

From the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “cocaine use has remained relatively stable since 2009. In 2014, there were an estimated 1.5 million current (past-month) cocaine users aged 12 or older,” (NIDA). Many of those people are able to recover from addiction with hard work, the right treatment, and an honest desire to stop using the drug.

Cocaine Addiction And Treatment_1.5 Million

Inpatient rehab centers remove people with addictions from the environment where drug abuse was widely accepted. It teaches them to change their behavior, and attitudes toward cocaine and other drugs.

For the most part, the length of treatment is anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Some people go into long-term treatment or even year long treatment programs for their addiction. The length of treatment depends on how long a person has been using cocaine, how much they use, and if they are suffering from any co-occurring disorders.

The cost can also be a deciding factor for how long a person goes to rehab. Luckily, thanks to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, insurance companies are not to place less favorable benefits on substance use disorders as surgeries or other medical emergencies. There are other options to pay for rehab as well, which is why it’s always important to ask.

As far as treatment goes, some of the most effective cocaine addiction programs are:

  • Evaluation
  • Detoxification
  • Holistic Therapies
  • Individual and Group Counseling
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Contingency Management
  • Mindfulness and Meditation Practices
  • Peer Support Groups
  • 12-Step Approach (Cocaine Anonymous)
  • Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment
  • Family Therapy

Find A Rehab Center That Meets Your Personal Needs

Cocaine is a powerful drug, but with the right help, you or your loved one can overcome cocaine addiction. Contact the addiction specialists at to learn how to get into treatment.

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For More Information Related to “Cocaine Addiction and Treatment Options” Be Sure To Check Out These Additional Resources From




Drug Enforcement Administration – Controlled Substances
National Institute on Drug Abuse – Cocaine