What is Cocaine Addiction and Treatment?
Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that’s often associated with addictions. When families see signs of addiction, they need to communicate with treatment programs and arrange for enrollment. Some programs provide around-the-clock inpatient care, others provide outpatient care, and some provide a mix of the two formats. There are no hard-and-fast rules about which setting is best. Since cocaine cravings can be persistent, families should look for treatment programs that provide ongoing and comprehensive relapse prevention support.
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For millennia, people in Central America have chewed the leaves of the coca plant in order to get a spike of energy or a burst of pep. In 1860, according to a report from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, a graduate student began experimenting with those leaves, and the substance he extracted is what we now call cocaine.
This drug, which can be sold in powdered or crystalline formats, is a powerful central nervous system stimulant.
It’s so powerful, in fact, that it’s been associated with addictions. Understanding the risks involved could keep some people from abusing the drug in the first place. But, for those who already have an addiction issue, help is available. With the right treatment program, and a great deal of followup care, these addictions can be effectively managed.
- https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000793.htm http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/substnce/crack.htm
How Cocaine Impacts the Mind and the Body
Cocaine can be sniffed, swallowed, or smoked. Once the drug enters the body, it crosses into the bloodstream and zooms up to the tissues of the brain, amending the chemical content of the brain.
Brain cells release the neurotransmitter dopamine in response to something pleasurable, like good food or happy conversation. Typically, the brain releases a small burst of dopamine, and the brain cells pick up what they can in the few seconds that follow. Whatever isn’t picked up is the recycled by other brain tissues.
Cocaine disrupts this pattern in two ways, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. First, it augments the amount of dopamine that’s released. That means people feel a bigger boost of pleasure and euphoria with cocaine than they might ever feel with natural methods. Everything is enhanced. Next, cocaine keeps dopamine from being recycled, so that happiness lasts longer. For some, it just goes on and on.
Unfortunately, those tweaks aren’t natural and normal, and the brain can adjust to them. That means people who use cocaine repeatedly may become immune to the power of cocaine. When they take it, they may not feel anything at all. In time, they may not feel any pleasure from the real world, either. They need the big stuff cocaine can deliver, and natural sources seem to do nothing at all.
In addition to this brain damage, cocaine can also disrupt all of the body tissues with which it comes into contact. Cocaine tends to tighten and shrink blood vessels, and in time, the tissues that depend on the blood these vessels can bring can shrivel up and die.
An article in the British Dental Journal suggests that snorting cocaine can lead to tumors, lesions, and trauma to the mouth, nose, and palette. That’s the sort of damage that might need surgical correction.
People who swallow cocaine could experience intestinal problems, according to Mayo Clinic, which could be life-threatening.
Intestines, starved of blood, can bunch up and block flow, or they can grow thin and weak, which could allow them to burst.
Knowing When Someone Needs Help
For some families, these medical conditions are truly lifesaving. That’s because families that transport an ill person to the hospital for treatment due to cocaine have an excellent addiction conversation starter. They can point out that the person has an addiction, and they might even have hospital lab work that helps to confirm the addiction, and they can go right from the treatment room to an addiction center.
Some people with cocaine addictions just don’t have physical, visible health problems due to drug use. Thankfully, the drugs do cause other symptoms that families can look for, but those symptoms can be subtle and easy to explain away.
For example, a man writing a memoir in New York Magazine suggests that he was unaware of his father’s cocaine addiction for many years. He blamed most of his father’s symptoms on his work or his stress level, not drug use. That’s common. Families will need to put on detective caps and really observe the behavior clearly. When they do, they may spot cocaine changes.
Since cocaine is a stimulant, people who abuse it can often seem revved up, energetic, and peppy. They can handle tasks with boundless energy, continuing to work when others have given up and headed home to rest. It’s easy to think that someone like this is just naturally peppy, but there’s often an edge to the energy that’s a little unusual. The person might also seem a little frantic and manic, with wild ideas and low impulse control. Looking for that can help families to separate the truly energetic from the chemically imbalanced.
- Increased appetite
- Disturbed sleep
If these symptoms appear and are then replaced suddenly with euphoria and energy, that’s a sign that cocaine may be in play.
How to Decide on a Treatment Program
People who use cocaine quite a bit can also become dreadfully thin, simply because the substance seems to depress the appetite. People taking cocaine just don’t feel the need to eat regularly, and since they stay awake and moving for long periods, they may burn a lot of calories. High calorie burn and no food are a recipe for weight loss, and it’s common with this type of addiction.
Cocaine can also cause behavioral changes. People taking the dug may seem secretive and shy, and they may claim that they need a great deal of privacy throughout the day and night. They may become irate or upset at finding people in their rooms or looking in their pockets, and they may be defensive when asked about where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing. Stratfor Global Intelligence also points out that cocaine is expensive, and that Americans can expect to pay about $100-150 per gram for pure powder. That means people with an addiction might always need money, and they might lie, cheat, or steal to get it. That behavior may seem uncommon or unusual, but it’s something the person simply must do in order to pay for the drug habit.
When families see the signs and choose to take action, they’ll need to communicate with treatment programs and arrange for enrollment. There are many different programs to choose from.Some programs provide an inpatient level of care, meaning that the person with the addiction moves out of the home and into the facility for around-the-clock supervision and assistance. Other programs provide outpatient care, so people with these addictions can continue to live at home while working on their addictions.There are a number of different factors to consider, when looking for the right addiction rehab setting. For some people, the risk of relapse is just too high, when they continue to live at home. They may have long-term friendships with people who use and abuse cocaine, and they may find it hard to stay away from dealers and pushers in the neighborhood. These people may also feel deep cravings for cocaine when they see specific locations or faces. Portions of the brain activated by cocaine call out for the drug when these triggers are seen. It’s a hard thing to overcome.
An inpatient setting can be best for people like this, as it removes the triggers altogether. People can work on their skills and resistance in the center, so when they move back home they’ll have a toolkit to lean on when they’re tempted to make a mistake. For them, the inpatient facility provides the breathing room required for a recovery to take hold.
In general, people who have tried to get better from cocaine with an outpatient program who then relapsed might need an inpatient program. Otherwise, there are no hard-and-fast rules about what setting is best.
It is vital, however, to ensure that the connection with the facility is easy to maintain. The National Institute on Drug Abuse points out that the risk of cocaine relapse is high, even after years of sobriety. That means people in recovery need to stay connected to the tools and resources that can help them to stay sober. They need their mental health teams, their social support groups, and their recovery tools. They might need to stay connected for years. That should play a role in the family’s choice. The facility should either be close enough to provide that care, or it should make arrangements for that care in the community, so people can get help when the formal treatment program is complete.
Recovery Is Possible
It’s true that the temptation to return to cocaine can linger, long after formal treatment programs are complete. But that doesn’t mean that cocaine addictions are persistent and permanent. People can, and they do, recover from these addictions on a regular basis.
For example, a very well-known economist with Bear Stearns lost his job due to cocaine use in the mid-1990s. He went into a cocaine rehab program, and he became a well-respected financial analyst about a decade later, according to Business Insider. This is a man that rebuilt his life in the aftermath of a cocaine habit, and he emerged stronger and more successful. It’s possible for anyone with a habit to recover like this.
The key is to address the issue head on, with the help of professionals, family, and friends. The sooner the addiction is spotted and treatments begin, the more likely it is that the issue can be conquered and resolved through therapy.
There’s no shame in admitting to a cocaine addiction. Hundreds of thousands of people have used the substance, and many have developed addictions. More and more Americans understand that addictions come due to chemical changes, not personal weakness. That means more and more Americans support the idea of recovery. Anyone with an addiction should embrace these changes and get real and lasting cocaine addiction help. When they fight back, amazing things can happen. Recovery is real and very possible.