Understanding the causes and symptoms of cocaine addiction and what you can do to find the treatment you need for yourself or a loved one.
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant and its effects are instantaneous. Once an individual becomes dependent on cocaine, it can be extremely difficult to stop without help. Often, cocaine addiction treatment is the only way to manage the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms experienced during detox, which often causes those struggling to overcome cocaine addiction to give up, prohibiting a full recovery.
What is Cocaine?
Made from the leaves of the coca plant, cocaine is the second most popular drug in the world (coming in only after cannabis). Users snort, smoke and inject cocaine to gain an immediate, euphoric effect. This instant ‘feel good high’ leads to using more cocaine to continue these elated feelings.
These feelings of elation are created because cocaine increases dopamine — the feel-good chemical in brain circuits. Dopamine is released into the brain circuits that control pleasure and motivation by a stimulus, like the smell of a delicious meal. Then it’s recycled back and the ‘feel good high’ ends. Cocaine blocks the recycling, causing the dopamine to build up. The result is a more intense ‘feel good high’ that lasts longer. The substance user craves this feeling which can lead to cocaine abuse. With long-term use, brain systems are changed and addiction ultimately develops.
What Causes Cocaine Addiction?
Both men and women of every race, socioeconomic status, and family background can become addicted to cocaine. However, certain factors contribute to a greater likelihood of becoming addicted.
3 Factors Influencing Cocaine Addiction
- Genetics. According to Addiction Science and Clinical Practice, approximately half of an individual’s risk for developing a drug addiction is genetic. For example, if addiction is present in a family structure, a person’s likelihood of developing an addiction increases.
- Biology. Gender, age of first use, and presence of mental health issues impact the risk for developing a cocaine addiction. Males are more likely to experience addiction, as well as individuals with mental health issues like depression and anxiety. The earlier in life a drug is used, the more likely the person will develop an addiction. Addiction is a developmental disease< that often starts in childhood and adolescence.
- Environment. Early home life impacts the risk for developing an addiction. Trauma (physical, emotional and sexual abuse), unstable family relationships, family members who use drugs, negative influence of peers, attitudes of the community, and poor academic performance all contribute to an increased risk for addiction.
The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance he or she will develop a cocaine addiction. A high-quality cocaine addiction treatment center addresses all of these contributing factors during treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction
Certain physical and behavioral signs can be strong indicators of a potential cocaine addiction. Depending on the method of use (smoking, snorting or injecting), as well as amount and length of use, symptoms will vary.
Physical Signs of Cocaine Use and Addiction
- Weight loss or malnutrition
- Spontaneous nosebleeds, sinusitis
- Perforated nasal septum
- Heart muscle damage
- Tooth decay
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive energy
- Dilated pupils
- Muscle twitches
- Injuries due to violent altercations
Behavioral Signs of Cocaine Use and Addiction
- Abandonment of previously enjoyed activities
- Memory loss
Signs of Cocaine Withdrawal
As the brain’s systems are altered, increased amounts of cocaine are needed to maintain daily functioning, to feel ‘high’, and avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. When cocaine use is decreased or stopped (known as detox), withdrawal occurs. Often due to a person’s inability to handle/tolerate the withdrawal symptoms cocaine use begins again. This is why a reputable center for cocaine addiction treatment is essential to overcome a cocaine addiction. In a medically supervised detox, individuals can get help coping with the symptoms of withdrawal and are more likely to complete a full detox and move to the next phase of recovery.
Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can include:
- Increased appetite
- Disturbed sleep, insomnia, nightmares
As with any addiction, cocaine withdrawal symptoms and length of withdrawal are different for everyone. The longer and heavier an individual has used cocaine, the more severe their withdrawal symptoms will be. On another note, if it is observed that an individual’s withdrawal symptoms quickly go away and/or are replaced with euphoric moods and high energy, it is possible that use of cocaine has started again.
Finding Cocaine Addiction Help
The decision to quit using cocaine can be difficult. It’s vital to take this first step seriously and find a cocaine addiction treatment center to help. This can make the difference between overcoming cocaine addiction or remaining addicted.
Know What to Expect During Cocaine Addiction Treatment
There are several phases of treatment for cocaine addiction:
- Medical Evaluation. The first step is to undergo a thorough medical assessment. Professionals will seek to identify other physical or mental health issues, as well as any other addictions.
- Detox. This can be a difficult phase of cocaine addiction treatment. Depending on the length and amount of cocaine use, this acute phase can last from one to three weeks. During the first few days, sleep may be difficult, drug cravings can be intense and depression is common. Beginning around day four, cravings may alternate between extreme and mild. Commonly around day five, these intense cravings begin to lessen.
- Counseling. The psychological causes of addiction must be addressed for the best chance at long-lasting recovery. Behavioral therapy helps to change attitudes as well as develop life skills to effectively deal with life stressors in healthy ways. This is an essential step in the cocaine addiction treatment process.
- Recovery. Overcoming cocaine addiction is a lifelong commitment to be taken seriously. Changes in people and places are often necessary for the best chances of long-lasting recovery. Support outside of the treatment center is essential, especially when faced with daily stressors and triggers.
Battling cocaine addiction isn’t easy. Making the decision to stop and finding the best cocaine addiction treatment center is the first step. Contact us today to discuss the next phase of your life – a life free from cocaine addiction.