Cocaine addiction is serious and can have many life-threatening consequences. Because of how cocaine affects the brain, once dependence has formed, it can be very difficult to stop using. Thankfully, it is very possible to recover from cocaine addiction.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a drug that is made from the leaves of a coca plant found in South America. By chemical processing in illegal labs, the leaves are turned into the white powder known as cocaine. Cocaine appears in two forms, powder, and rock form, which is referred to as crack cocaine or ‘crack’ for short. People will typically snort or inject cocaine into their veins, whereas crack cocaine is smoked to achieve a high. People will often combine the use of cocaine and heroin because of the opposite effects the drugs have. This is called “speedballing.”
Like many other drugs, cocaine is often cut with other substances by dealers to increase profit for themselves. This is just one of the many dangers of purchasing and using illegal drugs like cocaine. Cocaine has many serious side effects, especially from consistent long-term use. Long-term use of cocaine will alter brain chemistry.
What Cocaine Addiction Looks Like
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant and is highly addictive due to its euphoric effects. It is widely used as a party drug. In a study from 2018 by the NCDAS (National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics), 5.5 million people reported the use of cocaine in the past year.
The effects of using cocaine are relatively short-lived which drives users to repeatedly take more doses over a short period of time to maintain their high. Because of this required frequency, addiction to cocaine can happen quickly, as the brain will become dependent on it. When coming down from a cocaine high, users will typically feel empty, sad, and can even fall into a depressive state. This drives users back to cocaine, again and again, to keep that ‘feel-good’ feeling going.
Tolerance to cocaine builds up quickly and so a higher dose of the drug is required to achieve the same feeling. The crack cocaine high, achieved by smoking it, results in a more immediate and intense high. However, the effects also wear off more quickly. Crack cocaine can cause hallucinations, sporadic behavior, and intense paranoia. Cravings for both cocaine and crack are intense and can cause people to act uncharacteristically to get their next fix.
The Signs of a Cocaine Addiction
As for all addictions, the signs of cocaine addiction will vary in each person. This depends on several factors including how frequently they use cocaine and how long they have been using it. Some of the common signs of cocaine addiction are:
- Decreased appetite
- Inability to sleep
- Mood swings (high highs, low lows)
- Sudden bursts of energy
- Financial insecurity
- Restless behavior
- Isolation from friends and family
- Dilated pupils
When someone is addicted to crack cocaine, most of the signs are the same as those addicted to cocaine, but there can be some differences. In addition to the symptoms listed above, common signs of a crack cocaine addiction are:
- Tooth decay
- Erratic behavior
If you or a loved one are showing signs of cocaine addiction, now is the time to start seeking help. Side effects from long-term cocaine addiction can lead to death.
Recovery from Cocaine Addiction
When cocaine is used long-term, it can cause serious health complications. Cocaine has the second-highest overdose rate, preceded by opioids. The NCDAS states that cocaine makes up 21.2% of total overdose deaths. Cocaine elevates the heart rate and blood pressure, both of which can lead to serious health problems. Long term use of cocaine and crack cocaine can cause the following:
- Liver and kidney damage
- Lung damage
- Damage to the nasal cavities
- Increase risk of heart attacks
- Seizures and strokes
- Increased risk of contracting HIV/Aids
However, when a person has been using cocaine for a long time, suddenly stopping the use can be dangerous as their body will go into withdrawal. Withdrawal from cocaine is at best unpleasant and at worst life-threatening. Some of the withdrawal symptoms from cocaine include but are not limited to:
- Muscle aches
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Inability to experience sexual arousal
- Suicidal thoughts
The first step in the process of recovering from cocaine addiction is to go to medical detox. Medical professionals on staff have the equipment to monitor vitals and ensure a safe detox from cocaine. Patients will be able to meet with a psychiatrist who can assess and prescribe mood stabilizers or antidepressants if needed.
Every individual client will have their own recovery plan curated upon admission to set them up for a successful recovery from cocaine addiction.
Following detox, clients should look to continue treatment in an addiction inpatient or outpatient program to solidify their recovery from cocaine and learn to develop tools on how to cope with cravings. Inclient and outpatient addiction treatment programs will provide clients with therapy, education on the disease of addiction, and resources for staying sober.
How Moving Mountains Recovery Can Help
At Moving Mountains Recovery, we understand the seriousness of cocaine addiction. Our goal is to help clients recover in a safe and comfortable environment. We have therapies available to guide clients through recovery while uncovering passion in their life without drugs or alcohol. Our staff is equipped and ready to help with any questions or concerns. Please contact us today!