Cocaine is a powerfully, addictive stimulant drug. The refined chemical, cocaine hydrochloride, is taken from the cocoa plant. The coca leaves themselves can be chewed, and at the beginning of the 20th century, this refined chemical became a main and active ingredient in medical treatments for illnesses, as an anesthetic and even was included in commonly sold goods like sodas and even chocolates.
However, in current times, cocaine is considered a controlled substance because it carries a high potential for abuse and serious psychological or physical dependency. However, it can still be given by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, although very rare. The most common form of cocaine is a fine white powder or flaky chunks.
How Does Cocaine Work in the Body?
When cocaine is ingested, the chemical adheres to the dopamine transporter in the brain and blocks the normal recycling operation, which produces an increased amount of dopamine in the synapse, which makes the effects of cocaine so pleasurable.
Psychologically, when you use cocaine, the stimulant interacts with the dopamine receptors within the brain. This raises the levels of dopamine and stimulates the central nervous system.
A cocaine high is short-acting, and due to this fact, it can often lead to an overdose because the user will continue to take more to get “high,” and this causes the normal dopamine communication within the brain to malfunction. This, in turn, changes the brain’s reward process and does not allow the addict to achieve the natural highs of life which come from dopamine. This can result in depression.
Cocaine does not have any physical withdrawal symptoms. However, some users going through withdrawal will have trouble sleeping and show a lack of energy.
Cocaine affects the body in other ways too. Mild or occasional use of cocaine can also cause high blood pressure, brain damage, bowel gangrene, hardened arteries, and malnourishment. Long-term abuse, addiction, or overdose can lead to brain hemorrhages, strokes, heart attacks, and even respiratory failure.
Cause And Risk Factors of Cocaine Addiction
The causes and risk factors for cocaine addiction include but are not limited to:
Genetics – People who have a close relative, like a parent or sister/brother, who has or had an addiction to cocaine or other addictive drugs or substance, are at a much higher risk of becoming addicted to cocaine. It is not a conclusive indicator; genetics do greatly affect the likeliness of an addiction developing.
Environmental – If someone is raised in an environment where cocaine addiction or other substance abuse is witnessed, abuse or addiction can become a learned behavior. A person will learn how to cope or deal with upsetting or unfortunate circumstances that they experience with substances. This tends to lead to much younger experimentation to drugs or alcohol. It also largely increases the chances of abuse and addiction as they grow up.
Physical – It is believed that some people are born with temperamental qualities. These qualities put them at a higher risk of developing an addiction to cocaine or other stimulants. Often those who are addicted or abuse cocaine are doing so to self-medicate for a possible deficiency. More so than not, these deficiencies go undiagnosed.
Some factors that can lead to the development of cocaine addiction include but are not limited to:
Lower-income or poverty
Aggressive behaviors displayed in early youth
Peer pressure or daily influences
Poor or no parental supervision
Although the above factors increase the possibility of cocaine addiction and other substance abuse problems, there are several protective factors that can counteract the negatives.
Some protective factors that can greatly reduce the chances of someone developing an addiction to cocaine and other substance abuse include but are not limited to:
Stable home environment
Strong and healthy friendships
Academic and sports achievements
Parental involvement and monitoring
Signs, Symptoms And Side Effects of Cocaine Addiction
The most common signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse or addiction include but are not limited to:
Behavioral signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse
Elevated mental alertness
Bizarre and/or eccentric behavior
Extremely talkative; repetitive
Heightened energy levels; hyperactivity
Constant need for money; borrowing or stealing
Getting into trouble or legal problems
Sleep deprivation (while using)
Oversleeping (after using)
Loss of interest in former activities
Problems at work, school or with personal relationships
Physical signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse
Constant runny nose
Hoarseness in the voice
Headaches and/or migraines
Lack of appetite and/or malnutrition
Gangrene of the bowel
Tremors and/or muscle twitching
Dilated pupils (beady eyes)
Abnormal heart beat
Increased heart rate
Increased blood pressure
Constricted blood vessels
Higher body temperature
Mood signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse
Feelings of superiority
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Psychosocial signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse and/or addiction
Laziness; lack of motivation
Problems with personal relationships
Extreme mood swings
Not in touch with reality
Improper rationalization of situations
It is always hard for anyone with cocaine addiction to admit that they have a problem with this highly addictive drug. Feelings of guilt, defeat, and embarrassment are common, so this makes most people avoid seeking out help on their own.
It’s important that we learn the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction, so we know when it is time to seek help for ourselves or get help for a loved one.
Long Term Effects of Cocaine Addiction
Long term cocaine abuse causes the brain to try and offset the drug abuse by changing its chemistry and structure. These changes lead to dependency of the stimulant and are directly related to the addiction being so strong. These changes within the brain can remain for long periods of time even after the cocaine use has stopped.
Long term cocaine abuse will build up a tolerance level and ultimately decreases the effects of the drug. So the more you abuse cocaine, the more you will need to increase the quantity. This leads to more serious and potentially lethal side effects.
Long term cocaine abuse causes problems to the nose, especially the nasal cavity, which can lead to a deviated septum, a hole in between the two chambers of the nose. This is extremely painful and can lead to infections.
Having a cocaine addiction can be very expensive, and the dependence on the drug often puts someone’s personal finances in great strain. This is often one of the main reasons people seek addiction treatment.
Cocaine is a stimulant, which places a strain on the heart and increases your blood pressure. Long term cocaine abuse causes several cardiovascular problems.
The most common cardiovascular problems arising from cocaine abuse include but are not limited to:
Deep vein thrombosis
Cocaine Abuse, Addiction and Withdrawal
The most common withdrawal symptoms from cocaine abuse and/or addiction include but are not limited to:
Tremors and body chills
Muscle pain (achy feeling)
Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Loss of pleasurable feelings
Once someone stops taking the stimulant in an attempt to quit, it will trigger some serious, painful, and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The longer the cocaine addiction continues, the more intensified the withdrawal symptoms become when attempting to quit.
During withdrawal from cocaine addiction, you are likely to have extreme cravings for the stimulant. Thoughts often become obsessive, and this has a major negative impact on mental health.
If you or someone you know is experiencing cocaine abuse and/or addiction withdrawals, it is imperative that you seek immediate assistance from a certified drug treatment facility to keep you or your loved one safe from further harm or quite possible, even death. It is important to give anyone that is addicted to cocaine, both physical and psychological relief.
Cocaine Addiction Overdose
The CDC reported and published in 2016, that cocaine is one of the leading causes of overdose deaths in the United States.
The most common signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction include but are not limited to:
If you or a loved one is displaying any of the above withdrawal symptoms, seek immediate treatment.
Once someone has decided to quit abusing cocaine and seeks treatment, with heavy usage or an addiction, likely a medical detox is the first step. It usually entails a team of medical experts that will regularly administer withdrawal medication that addresses specific withdrawal symptoms from cocaine addiction. Often in a medically supervised detox facility, there are pharmacological treatments for cocaine.
The most common detox medications administered for cocaine addiction include but are not limited to:
In addition to pharmaceutical treatments for cocaine addiction is the use of behavioral therapies. There are many powerful behavioral treatments accessible for the treatment of a cocaine addiction that can be done either outpatient or residential programs.
There are various types of treatment programs and therapies available for cocaine addiction, such as those listed below.
Residential Treatment Program
Often referred to as inpatient treatment, this is a highly structured form of addiction treatment where the individual lives on the premises and adheres to a rigid schedule. This form of treatment is best for those that have been suffering from cocaine addiction for a long time. This treatment is also recommended when other programs have failed.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
A partial hospitalization program is essentially a treatment option that is more intense than a standard outpatient program and recommended for those suffering from dual diagnosis. You attend treatment around your schedule, including any medication assistance or detox.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBTis customized to encourage the person to modify expectations and behaviors related to their heroin abuse and/or addiction and teaches coping skills for problems.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)
This is a one on one approach to counseling for modifying a person’s behaviors by helping motivate them to engage in addiction treatment and assist with sobriety. This approach uses motivational principles to help create a plan for life changes and sobriety.
The 12-Step Facilitation Therapy
These recovery programs are designed to help the person better understand how this program will aid them with meetings of self-help styled groups. The program offers a support system by promoting open discussion of their addictions, therefore, reducing shame and boosting confidence.
Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT)
BCT is a therapy for addicts and their life partners. This form of therapy emphasizes behavioral foundations to help individuals stay sober from drugs and alcohol.
The Matrix Model
This form of behavioral therapy is most effective for people who abuse or addicted to methamphetamine and/or cocaine. The Matrix Model assists with remaining sober through education of what a relapse may entail. It includes one on one therapy in combination with self-help group therapies.
Cocaine Addiction is a Disease: Get Help Now!
Do you or know someone who is battling with cocaine abuse or addiction? If so, give yourself or someone else the motivation to accept and enter into cocaine addiction treatment by calling an admissions specialist at Unity Behavioral Health for a FREE consultation and CALL US at our 24-HR Helpline.