Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug extracted from the coca plant, usually grown in the jungles of South America. For thousands of years, tribes in the Andes Mountains chewed the plant only during religious ceremonies. Starting with the arrival of the Spanish in the 1500s, the coca plant became used as a stimulant for forced workers in mines. The addictive chemical was first isolated in 1859 by a scientist, what we know as cocaine. Ever since, cocaine’s highly addictive and dangerous properties have ruined the lives of addicts and their families.
More about Cocaine
Cocaine has many alternative and street names, such as coke, crack, white, rock, powder, blow, as well as other street names. Once it has been processed from the coca plant into the drug, it appears as a white powder or as a white “rock.” It is most commonly snorted in powder form with rolled up dollar bills, straws, pens, and similar things. It can be reprocessed into a rock form (commonly known as freebase or crack) so that it is smoked more easily. Other users, especially those with cross addictions with opiates or opioids, inject it with heroin in what is referred to as “speedballing.” Most people who use cocaine in any of its forms binge (use a lot in a little time) because the high is intense but short, lasting at the most about 30-40 minutes.
Cocaine’s Health Effects
Cocaine is highly addictive. It cannot be reiterated enough. Once the drug enters the user’s body, it rushes into the bloodstream to the brain where it binds to receptors that limit the flow of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate motor functions, and most important for addiction issues, it governs reward and reinforcement behaviors. We’ve all heard of the labs that tested rats for addictive behaviors and cocaine. Dopamine is part of the reason why we have favorite foods, binge watch tv shows, build relationships with people we love, and play sports. We get rewarded with good moods and pleasure with the release of dopamine, reinforcing our behavior.
Cocaine throws all of this out of whack. It artificially floods the brain with dopamine with an extremely high presence of dopamine. This spike in dopamine is part of the reason why people seek out cocaine more and more and gain higher dependence on it. As a result, people who become addicted to cocaine engage in dangerous and risky behavior to get and use the drug.
While cocaine produces an intense high, it also has many serious health complications, both short and long-term. When someone is high, he or she have increased sensitivity to sight, touch, and sound, extreme mood swings ranging from happiness to anger to extreme paranoia, and bloody noses.
Chronic or habitual users expose themselves to many dangerous health risks, even death. People who become addicted to cocaine are at high risk for seizures, headaches, risky sexual behavior, exposure to Hepatitis and HIV (for needle users), lung damage, heart disease and heart attacks, and overdose.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 14,000 people died from using cocaine in 2017 alone. There were more upwards of 4,000 more deaths from cocaine overdoses in 2017 than in 2016, matching the troubling trend of increasing drug abuse deaths over the last five years.
Recovery from Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction is very real. Even though cocaine withdrawal doesn’t present physical symptoms, the emotional and mental problems are as debilitating. Many cocaine users deny that they are addicted because the physical symptoms of cocaine are not present as in alcohol and opiate withdrawal. There is no difference between being physically addicted or mentally or emotionally addicted. Addiction is addiction.
If you or your loved one is struggling with cocaine addiction, the first step is admitting that they have a problem. The early days or recovery are incredibly uncomfortable and emotionally painful as their dopamine levels are very low. Additionally, they are leaving behind a substance which has helped them cope with life.
Recovery from cocaine addiction, though, doesn’t end once the user has been separated from the drug. Recovery is a life-long process of growing and developing new skills to lead a healthy and happy life. Often, because cocaine addicts are also recovering from cross-addictions to varying degrees with alcohol and opiates; at times it is difficult to know the extent of these addictions until the user enters treatment.
Treatment and Hope at Boardwalk Recovery
At Boardwalk Recovery, we have decades of experience with a passionate and expert medical staff as well as people who have recovered from cocaine, too. Not only do we provide a safe space to help the addict get physically sober, but we offer individual and family therapy to help everyone learn new healthy behaviors. We know that many users fear never having fun without their drugs, so we also emphasize treatments that get people developing healthy ways to have fun such as yoga, meditation, surfing, and numerous other activities.
While cocaine addiction is severe and can feel hopeless, recovery is as much a fact of addiction as anything. At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we are here to help. Contact us for more information and the next steps in treating cocaine addiction, or if you have any questions as to whether you or someone you love may be addicted.