Cocaine (sometimes processed and sold as “crack”) is an extremely addictive drug that is derived from the coca plant in South America. It can be abused by snorting, smoking, or injection. Depending on the manner of absorbing the drug, highs can last from between 5 and 30 minutes.
The limbic system (affecting pleasure and motivational control) is affected by cocaine use, and this leads to addiction. The cells that indicate pleasure in the brain are artificially stimulated, and a person is neurologically moved to want to experience such sentiments over and over again. Not only is the cocaine desired, but the people, places, and paraphernalia associated with the drug use are often interpreted as desirable and pleasant memories.1
Signs and Symptoms
On a short-term level, this drug causes highs of euphoria and energy, making a person seem content and talkative. Dangerous effects of cocaine abuse come from the symptoms of high blood pressure and increased heart rate. Cocaine also causes feelings of stomachache and stomach-sickness, change in appetite leading to weight loss over time, sleeplessness, restlessness, panic attacks, high body temperature, and dilated pupils. People who abuse cocaine have a diminished ability to make decisions. This causes many cocaine abusers to become sexually tolerant and promiscuous, leading to a high rate of sexually transmitted disease that cause a host of other undesirable symptoms.
Those who sniff cocaine regularly might be prone to frequent nosebleeds, an inability to smell scents or odors, and a constant runny nose or hoarse voice. Bowel problems are more common with cocaine that is administered orally. These bowel complications can make it difficult to go to the bathroom because there will be a limited blood flow in the users’ intestines.
Integrated Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Most cocaine addicts also abuse other drugs. Multiple addictions may need to be treated at one time. Addiction to cocaine is more than one disorder. The effects of addiction plague family life, cognitive thinking ability, and general health. Many aspects of the drug abuse will need to be specifically addressed in treatment.
Addiction to cocaine is more than one disorder. The effects of addiction plague family life, cognitive thinking ability, and general health. Many aspects of the drug abuse will need to be specifically addressed in treatment.
Family therapy might be in order and can include relationship counseling. It is easy for the innocent mate to feel betrayed in an addiction, or he or she might need counseling to stop facilitating an addiction. Whatever the case, having an outside professional counselor can restore love and peace into an aching relationship.
Anxiety management will be necessary so that a person can learn to balance stress after treatment and keep from mentally relapsing into thinking about returning to drugs to avoid anxiety. General medical concerns will no doubt come to light that will need mild to acute treatment. Also, mental health issues that accompany drug abuse must be addressed.
Cocaine Addiction and Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders
Any substance use disorder treatment must simultaneously treat any present mental health disorders. It is not important whether the mental health disorder was present before the abuse disorder or came into existence as a result of the drug abuse. Sometimes this can be unclear to an individual.
When a person completes his or her cocaine addiction treatment, he or she will also be better equipped to fight emotional and mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar or other disorders.
The Process of Treatment
Although cocaine addiction is so widespread that treatment advancement has progressed greatly, there are not currently any medications that the FDA has approved to treat the addiction. One promising option is a cocaine vaccine that withholds cocaine from being able to enter into the brain and affect the dopamine system.
Behavioral interventions, on the other hand, prove very successful, both in inpatient and outpatient settings. Although ideally medical and behavioral approaches to treatment will be combined to help a person to pass through detoxification, rehabilitation and relapse prevention, behavioral training alone can be extremely effective.
Motivational incentives, or motivational interviewing therapy, is one manner of therapy that moves a person to seek out or stay in rehab for cocaine addiction. The goal of this type of treatment is to help the individual regain power over his or her life and understand how positive recovery can be.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is another behavioral treatment method. This is a valuable tool in preventing relapse, as a person is taught to take negative thinking and addiction related thought trains and to re-route them into more productive areas. The learning processes that ingrained addiction are reversed to establish healthy thinking patterns.2
Treatment for cocaine addiction is evidence-based and successful. A person cannot be his or her natural self while in the grips of cocaine addiction, but rehabilitation can restore the true person.
1. Eric J. Nestler, Sci Pract Perspect. 2005 December. “The neurobiology of cocaine addiction.” Found online 2/18/16 at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851032/citedby/.
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What treatments are effective for cocaine abusers?” Found online 2/18/16 at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-treatments-are-effective-cocaine-abusers.