Cocaine addiction causes relationship issues, legal trouble, and negative health effects.

Cocaine and Addiction

How addictive is cocaine? Extremely. Made by isolating, extracting and purifying elements of the coca plant, cocaine remains the second most trafficked drug in the world. Cocaine does have legitimate medical use; however, the types of cocaine available as street drugs are both illegal and highly addictive. 

Known by street names like “blow,” “coke” and “snow,” the white, powdery form of cocaine is actually cocaine hydrochloride salt. Cocaine powder is usually snorted through the nose via a straw or rolled bill. Some users mix cocaine with water and inject it, while others rub it on their gums. 

Cocaine purchased on the street is rarely pure cocaine hydrochloride. In order to make it “stretch” so that it’s more profitable for dealers, cocaine has almost always been adulterated with cheap fillers like baking soda, crushed aspirin, or cornstarch. What is sold as cocaine can also contain other substances, such as bath salts or methamphetamine. There’s little way to know what substances are in street cocaine, and how potent they may be. 

The other form of cocaine is known as crack. This form is created by removing the hydrochloride and freeing the cocaine base by adding baking soda or ammonia. The result: crystalline rocks of crack cocaine that can be heated and the vapor smoked for a more intense high. Crack cocaine is even more addictive than the powdered form.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

People who use cocaine may try their best to hide the signs of abuse, but it’s often possible to tell when a loved one has been using — especially when it’s crossed the from use to dependence.

On their own, none of these symptoms is sufficient to indicate cocaine addiction. However, if you notice more than one, you or the person you love may be experiencing cocaine addiction. If that’s the case, it’s time to explore counseling or drug rehab. Common signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Excitability and talkativeness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in sleeping habits, such as sleeplessness followed by oversleeping
  • Nosebleeds
  • Constant runny nose or colds
  • Mood swings
  • Track marks on the forearms
  • Financial problems

Cocaine Effects and Use

Cocaine courses through the body quickly, causing a rush of energy, euphoria and confidence. A cocaine high can cause you to be extremely talkative but less interested in eating or sleeping. It can also involve a sense of anxiety, paranoia and sometimes even erratic behavior.

Cocaine highs are short-lived; maintaining a high requires repeated doses. As a result, it’s easy to binge on cocaine and consume a large cumulative amount. Cocaine overdose can lead to seizure, stroke, heart attack and death. 

It’s not unusual for people to mix cocaine with other substances, including alcohol. The cocaine and the alcohol react with one another in the liver, creating a new substance called cocaethylene.

Cocaethylene is even more toxic than cocaine or alcohol alone, and can lead to impulsivity, as well as liver damage, stroke and cardiovascular damage.

Unlike many other illegal substances, cocaine has the potential to cause permanent damage to the brain’s neural pathways that respond to stress and reward.

Consequently, former users of cocaine run an especially high risk of relapse, even if they have been abstinent for years. Addiction treatment and a support network are strongly recommended for those struggling to end their cocaine abuse.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

We know from experience that treating cocaine addiction isn’t always easy. We have the tools, compassion and expertise to help you recover from cocaine dependence.

We usually recommend starting treatment with medically supervised detox. You’ll likely start feeling withdrawal symptoms between one and 40 hours after your last use of cocaine. In fact, you may wish to arrange your enrollment before you’ve stopped using it so that you’re not going through withdrawal on your own. Our clinical teams can help you safely detox and manage any withdrawal symptoms comfortably before moving on to your next phase of treatment. 

Of course, every client is different. But most people who have recently detoxed from cocaine need the structure and supervision offered by one of our residential inpatient treatment programs. In this crucial early phase of recovery, we’ll collaborate with you to develop a customized recovery plan just for you. We’ll also want to address dual diagnosis, i.e., mental health conditions that may have been contributing to your cocaine use.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT), and motivational interviewing (MI) can be especially powerful approaches to treating cocaine addiction. Each has proven helpful in identifying and treating the causes of substance abuse — and diminishing the risk of relapse in the future. 

Reach out to Niznik Behavioral Health today. And together, we’ll help you get on the road to recovery.

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