Although some people quit using cocaine on their own, cocaine addiction is best treated in an addiction treatment and rehab program like the facility here at Solution Based Treatment & Detox. Studies show that 60% to 78% of people who attempt to quit on their own experience a setback.
A Brief History of Cocaine Use
Although cocaine is known today as one of the world’s most addictive drugs, it was once considered a medical “miracle.” In fact, in 1884, psychologist Sigmund Freud even published a medical analysis of the drug. Not only did cocaine prove to be an effective anesthetic for cataract surgery, it also worked as a remedy for cholera, as well. Labeled a “miracle drug,” cocaine was widely available in the United States without restriction and was even used in fortified wine and soft drinks like Coca-Cola. But early in the 20th century, researchers discovered the drug was highly addictive and harmful. In 1914, legislation in the United States made recreational use of cocaine illegal. Despite this, the number of people addicted to cocaine continues to increase.
Cocaine Use Today
The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that an estimated 966,000 Americans over the age of 12 struggled with a cocaine use disorder (CUD). That same year, more than 60% of people received treatment for CUD. Unfortunately, a year later, 1 million Americans tried cocaine for the very first time. Although we don’t know how many of those first-time users became addicted, we do know that another 977,000 Americans fell victim to Cocaine Use Disorder in 2018.
Quick Facts About Cocaine
- Cocaine is a stimulant drug extracted from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America.
- Cocaine looks like a fine, white crystal powder.
- Users consume cocaine by snorting, smoking, or injecting it. Sometimes, users rub the powder on their gums.
- Recreational use of cocaine is illegal.
- Street dealers often mix cocaine with cornstarch, talcum powder or flour. They also mix it with other drugs such as amphetamine or synthetic opioids.
- Popular nicknames for cocaine include blow, coke, crack, rock, and snow, Snow White, nose candy, sugar, flake, Charlie, and Johnny.
Understanding Cocaine Addiction
Research shows that approximately 25% of people who use cocaine once will develop an addiction to the drug. This happens because of how quickly cocaine enters the system, how stimulating the high is, how devastating the comedown is, how quickly withdrawal happens, and the physical and psychological effects on the brain.
Methods of Use
The speed at which cocaine enters the body depends upon the method of use.
- When injected, via an IV or smoked, the onset is immediate, with peak effects occurring after 3 to 5 minutes.
- When snorted, onset takes about 3 to 5 minutes, with peak effects occurring 20 to 30 minutes afterward.
- When taken orally, cocaine enters the bloodstream after about 10 minutes. After about an hour, users start to feel cocaine’s peak effects.
The Comedown: Quick & Devastating
Although cocaine’s peak effects happen quickly, the effects don’t last long. After smoking or injecting cocaine, the high lasts for 15 to 20 minutes. 45 to 90 minutes after smoking cocaine, the high is gone. Likewise, the high that occurs after taking cocaine orally only lasts for an hour and a half on average.
- Within 5 minutes of consumption, cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and reaches the brain. After 10 to 30 minutes, the brain releases neurochemicals known as dopamine. At that point, users begin to experience the drug’s peak effects.
- Two to three hours later, the body crashes. Instead of feeling elated, users feel exhausted, restless, irritable, and hungry.
- A few hours later, symptoms of withdrawal start to occur, and users feel an intense desire to use again. If they use cocaine habitually, the brain will become accustomed to excess levels of dopamine in the body.
At this point, the user will begin to experience physical and psychological dependence on the drug, which elicits more cravings. Eventually, users will lose control over how often, how much, and how frequently they’re using the drug. Before they know it, they are experiencing Substance Use Disorder (SUD).
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Use
It’s important that family, friends, and co-workers recognize the signs and symptoms of cocaine use. Common indicators a loved one is using cocaine include:
- Secretive behavior
- Mood swings
- Dilated pupils
- Runny nose
- Overconfidence, overexcitement
- Loss of appetite
- Paranoia, frequent nightmares
- Long periods of wakefulness, restlessness
- Relationship, legal and financial problems
- Neglecting people, events, and activities that were once important
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal
Not long after the comedown, the body goes through withdrawal. In fact, some withdrawal symptoms begin a few hours after the last use. Common signs and symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:
- Erratic sleep and upsetting dreams
- Cravings for cocaine
- Inability to feel pleasure or joy
- Mental and physical exhaustion, lack of motivation
- Poor concentration and inability to focus
Some symptoms like sadness, anxiety, and slowed thinking may be temporary. Others like nightmares, increased appetite, and intense cravings can last for months.
Symptoms of cocaine use and withdrawal are signs of cocaine abuse. Finding cocaine metabolites, or residue of the drug, in a person’s system is another sign of a possible addiction. Cocaine metabolites remain in:
- Perspiration: up to a few weeks after last use
- Urine: 2 to 3 days after last use (2 weeks for heavy users)
- Blood: samples up to 12 hours after last use
- Hair samples: months and even years after last use
- Saliva: 1 to 2 days after last use
Diagnosing Cocaine Addiction
Only a licensed medical professional can determine if an individual has a cocaine addiction. Individuals with two or more criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition have a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). This criterion includes:
- Using cocaine
- Cocaine cravings
- Social or interpersonal problems caused by drug use
- Neglecting responsibility in favor of cocaine
- Cocaine tolerance
- Using larger amounts of cocaine
- Repeated failed attempts to quit using cocaine
- Excessive time spent using cocaine
- Physical and psychological problems related to cocaine use
- Replacing activities with cocaine use
Crack Cocaine Addiction and Its Risks
One variation of cocaine that is popular due to its low cost, potency, and availability is “crack” cocaine, which is the street name for a variety of cocaine in a crystalline form. Crack cocaine is most commonly formed by combining the drug with baking soda, although crack may also contain other drugs of unknown type and quantity. Once the mixture has crystallized, crack becomes a highly potent form of cocaine that is known for its very fast absorption into the body through smoking, sometimes in a matter of seconds. Because of this, crack cocaine is considered highly addictive, especially because the “high” lasts only minutes.
Individuals who consume crack on a regular basis are at risk for a series of health complications, which can include:
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Sudden feelings of anxiety
- Organ damage (especially to the heart and lungs)
- Breathing challenges
- Increased risk of pneumonia and other lung conditions
- Paranoia or hallucinatory experiences
- Damage to fetal health among pregnant women
Chronic use of crack cocaine can also expose the user to the risk of drugs “cut” with unknown substances, which can include caffeine, amphetamines, and painkillers. The combination of these drugs with the potency of crack cocaine can lead to overdose and other health complications, especially when the user is unaware that the drug contains these additional chemicals.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
Typically, treatment for cocaine addiction through a rehab facility begins with medically-assisted detox. During detox, individuals manage their withdrawal from cocaine with the help of healthcare professionals.
Next, treatment shifts to developing healthier coping mechanisms. This is often done through individual therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT; psychologists and clients discuss and examine the client’s thoughts and behavior patterns. They also explore how to change unhealthy patterns into healthier habits. Treatment also includes participating in peer support groups.
Here at Solution Based Treatment and Detox, our addiction program for cocaine and crack abuse includes two main types of treatment:
- Residential, inpatient treatment allows clients to stay onsite at one of our residential homes while they recover. Our residential program includes one certified staff member for every 2 clients. This ensures a high level of personalized support throughout every step of the recovery journey.
- Intensive outpatient treatment is extremely beneficial for our clients who may not need a residential facility. IOP also benefits people who have quit cocaine on their own but are looking for continued support and treatment. In this program, clients receive group therapy. They are also assigned an individual therapist for weekly meetings. A benefit of this program is that clients receive treatment while continuing to live at home.
Long-term effects of using cocaine include liver, kidney and lung damage, seizures, heart disease, and stroke. Long-term use of cocaine can also cause HIV, hepatitis, respiratory failure and permanent damage to blood vessels of the heart and brain.
But cocaine addiction does not have to ruin your life. Treatment is available and can help. Let our expert staff help you reach and maintain sobriety and long-term recovery. Call our offices today at 877-309-4311.
We Know From Experience
We have helped thousands of people recover using a solutions-based approach of empowerment and knowledge.
We pride ourselves on creating a warm, relaxed recovery environment where our clients can show their true selves.
On-Site Medical Detox
Medical detox is a critical first step in recovery, which is why we provide supervised medical detox in-house.
Every client benefits from a fully personalized treatment and plan of care, helping them recover and reach their unique goals.