Over 30 years ago, researchers discovered the brain mechanisms that produce the cocaine high. Ever…
Can a Cocaine Addict Recover?
Like many other drugs in America, overdose deaths caused by cocaine have risen dramatically over the last decade. For much of the 2000s, cocaine overdoses accounted for less than 5,000 deaths. 2014 was the beginning of a devastating new trend.
We’re all familiar with the opioid crisis that has rocked American families and homes in the last five years, but cocaine hasn’t gotten the same attention even though deaths caused by cocaine have risen nearly 300% over the previous five years. In 2017, 14,556 people died from cocaine overdoses (almost as much as from heroin in that same year).
People are more than simple statistics, though. What those numbers don’t show are the thousands of people who do recover from cocaine addiction. So yes, if you or a loved is addicted to cocaine, recovery is possible.
Ways to Recover from Cocaine Addiction
At first glance, recovery from drugs may seem as simple as not using drugs. But that doesn’t address the complexity of the disease of drug addiction. Unlike opioids, there are no FDA-approved medications that curb cocaine dependence or cravings. Successful recovery of cocaine dependency includes diagnosis and treatment of any co-occurring disorders (dual-diagnosis), cognitive behavioral therapy, activity-based therapy to create new experiences tied to pleasure and happiness, and a plan to live clean (often called ‘relapse prevention).
Cocaine’s Effect On the Brain
Long-term cocaine use produces significant changes in the brain, such as how the brain responds to the reward system. After the brain has gotten used to cocaine altering the dopamine (pleasure receptors), it takes time for the mind to be able to begin producing dopamine of its own at prior levels. If you have recently stopped using and find yourself feeling downcast, this is natural. Be easy on yourself and know that you will begin enjoying life again, as many former addicts can attest. In the meantime, you can start exercising, taking walks, and doing sports and hobbies that brought you joy and excitement before your cocaine addiction robbed you of your passions.
Cocaine also affects the way your brain handles stress. Research shows that cocaine addiction frequently co-occurs with stress and anxiety disorders. Coke has been found to elevate hormones that regulate stress, stimulating neuroadaptations that increase sensitivity to cocaine and mental cravings.
Life is stressful. We acknowledge that. Financial issues, relationships, and dreams of success are only a few of the things that can cause us stress. Learning new coping mechanisms to deal with life on life’s terms is an essential step in recovering from active addiction.
You Don’t Have to Recover Alone
Loneliness can be one of the most debilitating and frustrating feelings. The thing that is the most frustrating about loneliness is that it can happen even while you’re surrounded by friends and family, in the middle of a sea of thousands of people at a concert, or when you’re by yourself. Once loneliness creeps in, it can be a baffling feeling to overcome. Feelings of remorse, guilt, shame, and fear all contribute to isolation.
The good news: you’re not alone! Almost everyone who has recovered from addiction knows exactly how that feels. And now, they are happier and feel a connection to their friends and family in ways that they never thought possible again. Step into your nearest Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and other support groups. Check your skepticism at the door. Listen to the stories of how people just like you recovered from the hopeless feeling of loneliness and isolation.
Loneliness can affect everything we do. Practicing mindfulness can begin today. Here are some other useful tip in learning to live with acceptance, compassion and awareness as you embark on your journey to overcoming addiction.
Cocaine Recovery in Action
When someone has diabetes, she has to remain vigilant about her sugar consumption and monitor their insulin. Likewise, someone with a cocaine addiction must understand that relapse is only a line or a bump away that could end with loneliness, despair, jail, and even death.
Develop a plan to stay clean and follow through. If you need help devising a course of action that will enable you to live purposefully and joyously, Boardwalk Recovery’s dedicated staff can help guide you with their medical and personal experience. Reach out. You have nothing to lose and only a wonderful life to gain!