Cocaine Addiction

Over the course of a few decades, the dangers behind cocaine use and abuse have grown steadily. With the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s came high addiction and abuse rates, and the potential dangers and perils of cocaine addiction have been on the rise ever since. With Hollywood hits such as “Scarface” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” glorifying cocaine use, there has been no more urgent of a time to seek cocaine addiction treatment than now.

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The first step in treating your cocaine addiction is actually knowing what cocaine addiction consists of. When is it considered addiction as opposed to abuse? How does it take root? How can I fix my addiction?



cocaine addict holding bag of the drug

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant, significantly affecting the central nervous system. Made from the coca plant native to South America, cocaine has been used for a variety of nutritional and medicinal purposes. Coca naturally contains opioids, and, when it is synthesized into cocaine, it quickly becomes highly addictive and allows much room for abuse.

Usually sold in crystal form as a fine white powder, cocaine is commonly referred to on the streets as blow, coke, rock, and snow. Cocaine is ingested by snorting or rubbing it into the user’s gums

While it does dissolve in water and can be injected that way, it is very rarely consumed that way. Cocaine, through a bit of extra processing, can be heated and turned into a freebase that can be smoked, called crack cocaine (usually just “crack”).

When it first enters the system, cocaine’s effects become apparent almost immediately. Cocaine very quickly blocks the recycling process of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, causing a blockage in the flow. 

As the buildup blocks the recycling process, it causes an intense feeling of happiness and pleasure, causing people to use more and eventually becoming addicted or dependent.

Listed as a Schedule I drug in the United States by the Drug Enforcement Administration, cocaine is one of the most commonly used and abused illicit drugs, just barely trailing behind cannabis. Though the United States is in the middle of an opioid epidemic, it is important to remember that cocaine addiction and overdose are becoming more dangerous as time goes on.


Cocaine Addiction

Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States classify as cocaine users based on a National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2014. Although the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s is technically over, the numbers are proof that cocaine addiction is still a very real and dangerous addiction. More than 7,000 deaths in 2015 were contributed to a cocaine overdose, causing treatment centers to up their game and develop more ways to treat addiction.

Treatment is made even more difficult due to the fact that many dealers and users will cut cocaine with another substance, such as heroin, commonly leading to overdose.

First-time users do not always become addicted, but the addictiveness of cocaine puts many first-time users at an unnecessary risk. If you find that you or someone you know has become addicted to cocaine, it is extremely important that treatment is sought out as soon as possible. Early detection is essential in addiction treatment in every case, and cocaine is no exception.

Cocaine addiction has many noticeable negative behavioral and physical side effects that become apparent as a victim falls prey to addiction. General addiction causes the victim to isolate themselves from their friends and family, and will often have mood swings. While cocaine can cause agitation, anxiety, and paranoia, other behavioral signs of cocaine addiction may include:

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  • Excitability
  • Irritability
  • Risky behavior
  • Talkativeness
  • Poor hygiene
  • Financial instability
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Physical signs of cocaine addiction may include small clues and hints that you will likely have to search for. If you suspect someone of using cocaine, there may be small amounts of residue on their face and/or clothes. The user will often show physical signs such as dilated pupils, a runny nose, and even nosebleeds.

While it may sound redundant, if you or someone you know may suffer from cocaine addiction, the most common sign shown is the failure to quit and strong compulsive feelings to continue to abuse cocaine. If you are worried that your cocaine use might be turning into addiction, the most common sign is a strong compulsion to continue using. If you’ve tried and failed to cut back or stop using, you might have developed a psychological or chemical addiction.

Cocaine Facts and Statistics

  • Between 70 percent and 80 percent of the world’s supply of cocaine is produced in Colombia. Its proximity to the United States contributes largely to the amount of national cocaine abuse.
  • According to the CIA, the United States is the number one consumer of cocaine. The United States alone consumes about $28 billion per year.
  • Almost 4.7 million Americans aged 12 or older reported using cocaine in the past year, and almost 38 million reported ever using cocaine in their lifetime, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2012

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What Is Involved in Cocaine Addiction Treatment?

Because cocaine was such a problem in the 80s and 90s and still is today, experts in addiction treatment have devised many different methods of treating cocaine addiction. Through the use of behavioral therapies and psychological approaches as well as medication-assisted treatment, medical professionals offer the most effective and comfortable ways to treat cocaine addiction. For this reason, it is extremely important to only treat addiction with experienced doctors and nurses. Doing otherwise often leads to severe withdrawal symptoms, leading to relapse and the development of addiction again, ultimately resulting in overdose and even death.

Detox is the first step in addiction treatment and is consequently the hardest step for many addicts. When you first begin using cocaine, it blocks the recycling of dopamine in your brain, which stops creating its own dopamine. Through chronic cocaine use, more dopamine is blocked from being reabsorbed, resulting in a need for higher doses to reach the same effects as when you first used it. Your body becomes used to having cocaine in your system and, once cocaine is removed, it slingshots back to sobriety. This results in many withdrawal symptoms that can be unpleasant for the user. To best avoid these side effects, the individual should taper off of the drug, slowly decreasing intake so that the withdrawals are not as extreme.

This is why treatment centers are the best at what they do. Addiction treatment centers have the resources and medications required to make detoxification as easy and carefree as possible. Self-detoxing at home runs a much higher risk of relapse, as most relapses occur in the beginning stages of treatment.

Post-detox treatment is most effective immediately after medical detoxification. As soon as detox is completed, a patient should almost always engage in either an inpatient or outpatient program. Treatment programs range in intensity from the very structured (residential treatment) to  a more relaxed approach (intensive inpatient/intensive outpatient). Inpatient programs are tailored toward treating psychological addictions and exploring the reasons for a patient’s addiction. Inpatient and outpatient are different in the fact that inpatient care requires a patient to live on-site during treatment, and outpatient instead involves visiting a treatment center following a set schedule, then returning home after the therapy is completed for that day.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is among one of the most common methods of addiction treatment therapy and has been proven to be effective time and time again. CBT is a powerful tool in preventing relapse due to its ability to teach people with addictions how to identify potential triggers and thus prevent a relapse. CBT is also effective in dealing with dual-diagnosed patients. If someone with an addiction has a co-occurring disorder such as cocaine addiction and depression, CBT works wonders for treating both at the same time.

Another method of treatment commonly used to help the transition from treatment back to everyday life is the implementation of sober living houses. Sober living houses are exactly what you would think they are: houses in which the residents simply stay sober and engage in light therapy and drug tests. Sober living houses play an instrumental role in effective aftercare. It is important to know that quality treatment centers will create a treatment plan tailored to each individual case, and this plan in conjunction with aftercare yields the best outcomes in treatment and in recover.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

Cocaine, as one of the most popular “club drugs,” is among the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. Cocaine addiction is one of the most dangerous drug addictions anyone could fall into, and possibly the fastest and easiest addictions to develop.

The longer you wait before seeking help, the harder it will be to make things right. If you or a loved one suffers from cocaine addiction, the time is now to act. Call Pathway To Hope right now at (954) 866-4756 and begin your journey to a sober life.