Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction happens when the body and the mind continuously crave and become dependent on the drug cocaine. Abusing cocaine will quickly lead to cocaine addiction. The cocaine abuse definition includes persistently consuming cocaine to achieve a high that accompanies cocaine use or using cocaine for the increased stimulant feeling that it causes.

Cocaine comes in a white powdery substance that reacts to the body’s central nervous system, sending signals to the brain to pump out energy and euphoria. It is usually snorted, but it can also be smoked or dissolved in water and injected through a needle. Cocaine is also referred to as coke, snow, powder, yeyo, powder, or blow. 

Although most individuals today realize that cocaine is extremely addictive, still thousands are drawn to it. As many as 2,000 Americans per day will experiment with cocaine for the very first time.

To understand what cocaine is, the effects it has on an addict, and the signs and symptoms to look for, read on.

Defining Cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is derived from the leaves of coca plants. Cocaine consumption enhances the effects of chemicals in the brain, called dopamine. This chemical enhancement will lead to a sense of high energy and strength. The increased impact of dopamine will also cause the euphoric pleasurable sensations that create the high from cocaine. The increased rate of using cocaine may lead to side effects.

Types of damaging side effects from cocaine use include:

  • Fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Panic
  • Aggression
  • Rapid breathing
  • Severe anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Tremors
  • Problems sleeping
  • Impaired judgment
  • Cardiac arrest

Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Any consumption of cocaine is considered abuse because it is an illegal substance. Cocaine is a stimulant to the central nervous system that affects the brain by boosting high levels of dopamine, which is the brain chemical that gives reward and pleasure. Overusing cocaine will eventually harm the body with the potential for severe long-term effects. Cocaine use can also change the genetics of some brain cells, nerve cells, and proteins, amongst other permanent results.

Some other effects due to cocaine use will include:

  • Alertness
  • Anxiety
  • Excitement
  • Talkativeness
  • Overconfidence

The way cocaine is used will also affect the potency and duration of the high. Results of snorting cocaine are short-lived, lasting around 15 to 30 minutes. To smoke or inject cocaine gives a more intense high but last for an even shorter period, roughly 5 to 10 minutes. Most cocaine users will frequently dose to keep the high going. Injecting cocaine will pose a higher risk of an overdose of cocaine use.

Cocaine abuse is hazardous because using continuously will result in problems with the brain and heart. The more common cause of death for cocaine users will be a stroke or cardiac arrest.

How Cocaine Becomes Addictive

Statistics have shown that approximately 25% of individuals who start using cocaine recreationally end up developing an addiction. Most times, the addict won’t take the first crucial step of realizing they have an addiction and remain in a mind-frame of denial.

Cocaine is highly addictive due to the psychological and physical effects that it has on the brain. Usually, cocaine addiction will result from some combination of these two factors.

Physical Addiction to Cocaine

On a physical level, cocaine is addicting due to the effect called dependence. Once the brain and body become accustomed to the chemical changes that cocaine causes, they start craving cocaine to continue functioning normally. This will lead to withdrawal symptoms once cocaine consumption has come to a halt. The body, needing cocaine to resume normal functioning, will start creating cravings for cocaine that will soon become unbearable.

Psychological Addiction to Cocaine

Psychological addiction to cocaine occurs when cocaine completes a psychological need. The increased stimulation and energy from a cocaine high will make the user feel better about interacting in social situations.

The cocaine high created will help some users overcome feelings of depression or inadequacy. The common factor is cocaine helps users cope with psychological needs. The commonality means that users will always need cocaine to help them continue to deal with the initial psychological demand.

Cocaine Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Signs of cocaine abuse include:

  • Over excitement
  • Overconfidence
  • Dilated pupils
  • Periods of wakefulness
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Missing work
  • Legal issues
  • Runny nose
  • White powder in nostrils

Symptoms of cocaine abuse include:

  • Talkativeness
  • Lack of inhibition
  • High confidence
  • Change of sleeping and eating patterns
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle twitching
  • Excessive enthusiasm
  • Impotence
  • Nausea
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Irritability

To recognize the signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse is vital. The next crucial step is enlisting the services of an experienced treatment center to help you through the situation, including proposing to your loved one detox and rehab.

Rates and Statistics for Cocaine Addiction

Recent studies from the National Survey and Drug Use and Health had shown that 1.5 million people age 12 or older had used cocaine within a month of keeping track. The same study had found that within 12 months, almost one million people met the diagnostic criteria of being addicted to cocaine.

This statistic states that 0.4% of the population in the U.S. has a cocaine addiction. With these statistics, it is possible to calculate an approximate addiction rate of cocaine for recreational cocaine users, which is around 60%. Some other statistics will vary with one study showing the cocaine addiction rate for recreational cocaine users is at 25%.

Diagnosing Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction must be diagnosed by a licensed doctor who considers a variety of single factors. Ultimately, the doctor will use several different criteria out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to evaluate if the patient has a cocaine addiction.

Typically, a cocaine addiction diagnosis will depend on having at least two of the following criteria, which include:

  • Developing a tolerance
  • Social or problems related to cocaine use
  • Using more significant amounts of cocaine
  • Hazardous use of cocaine
  • Neglected responsibilities primarily to get high
  • Cravings
  • Activity replaced by cocaine use
  • Excess of time spent using cocaine
  • Repeat attempts to quit cocaine
  • Psychological or physical issues related to cocaine use

Every individual’s cocaine addiction will be unique, and will ultimately require individual assessment by a doctor to diagnose the patient with cocaine addiction.

Cocaine Used and Other Substances

Most individuals who experiment with cocaine will usually do so in environments where other substances are being also used. For this reason, most individuals with a cocaine addiction likely will also have a dependence on other substances, such as marijuana or alcohol. This is known as polydrug use and is quite dangerous, as it increases the risk of a fatal overdose.

Alcohol and cocaine are frequently used together, to the point where alcohol becomes a trigger for cocaine users to try to recover. Because of this reason, it is essential to stay away from all drugs and substances during the recovery process. To use heroin and cocaine together is, by far, the most dangerous and lethal of all drug combinations that include cocaine.

Cocaine Abuse Treatment Therapies and Approaches

Cocaine addiction treatment will usually start with an initial detox process where the drugs and substances are cleansed from the body, and healthcare professionals manage the effects of withdrawal.

As the substances are cleared from the system, a treatment shift will happen to develop coping mechanisms to help continuously maintain sobriety. This shift will involve medications and therapies. The most commonly used therapy that patients find helpful is cognitive-behavioral therapy.

CBT consists of learning about the underlying conditions behind behaviors and learning how to change those motivations to make a change in behavior. Continue treatment will involve a follow up to ensure that the patient is still maintaining sobriety.

Recovery Rates for Cocaine Addiction

Studies have shown that about 60% to 78% of individuals who tempted to quit cocaine use on their own have experienced a setback. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, therapy and treatment can approve the odds of maintaining sobriety by as much as 50%.

Cocaine Abuse Cocaine Key Points

There are multiple battle points to keep in mind regarding cocaine addiction, which include:

  • Cocaine addiction is both physical and psychological
  • A doctor or medical professional must diagnose a cocaine addiction
  • Recovery rates for cocaine addiction will be improved with treatment
  • Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug
  • Cocaine abuse has several dangerous and potentially deadly side effects

Getting Help for Cocaine Addiction

If you or a loved one has a cocaine addiction, do not let another day go past without getting the help and answer that you need. Our team at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center understands how overwhelming it can be to consider reaching out for treatment, rest assured that in doing so, you’re making a decision that could potentially be life-saving.

At Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, our team will provide top of the line addiction treatment that will help the addict to stop using, but also to encourage mental, physical, and spiritual growth so that long-term recovery is achieved.

Here At Harmony Ridge Recovery Center, we can help cocaine addiction behaviors and tendencies and reintroduce a healthy, happy lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.