Stimulant misuse is on the rise. About six million Americans admit to using cocaine regularly, and about one million young adults use cocaine each year. Sadly, cocaine can wreak havoc on a person’s health. The drug causes long-term changes in brain structure and function, and without treatment, some people may develop life-threatening medical problems.
Treatment can help. At Indiana Center for Recovery, our experienced staff helps patients break free of cocaine addiction. We work with patients to overcome dependency and rebuild their lives. Read on to learn more about cocaine addiction and treatment.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. Like other stimulants, cocaine produces high energy levels. It also blocks pain signals between the brain and the body.
The drug derives from coca leaves. Indigenous people used coca leaves as a stimulant, producing a substance similar to coffee. In the 1900s, physicians used cocaine in medicine. Cocaine offered pain relief during surgery, and many doctors believed the drug was harmless.
Today, researchers know better. Modern cocaine is a dangerous substance. When misused, cocaine can produce long-lasting changes to brain chemistry. It can also create a physical dependency that may progress into an addiction.
What Is Crack?
Cocaine is commonly sold in two forms. Some users opt for a powdered form, which they can inject or snort. Others mix the drug with water or other substances. They can then smoke this mixture in a pipe. The smokable form of cocaine is known as crack. Crack produces a powerful high, which can increase a person’s risk of addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction
People under the influence of cocaine may appear:
- Hypersensitive to touch, sound, and sight
Their pupils may dilate, and their body temperature may increase. They may seem euphoric or even manic. Often, people under the influence of cocaine seem highly productive. As a result, cocaine use is sometimes encouraged or tolerated in certain professions. Keep in mind that even casual cocaine use can be very harmful.
A person who misuses cocaine over a long period may develop:
- Muscle twitches
Often, people begin to use cocaine as a recreational drug. When they’re under the influence, they may feel like they’re the “life of the party.” But they can also display erratic or irrational behavior. Sometimes, people under the influence make risky decisions about their health and safety. They may also have trouble calming themselves down after a cocaine binge.
Over time, a person who uses cocaine may experience less pleasure and euphoria. They begin to experience more negative side effects. At this point, many patients realize they need to quit. But they may already struggle with symptoms of addiction. A person who is addicted to cocaine may continue to use the drug, even as it takes a toll on their health.
Health Risks of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine places tremendous strain on the heart. People who misuse cocaine may develop:
- Heart attacks
- Heart rhythm disorders
They might also develop gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea or abdominal pain. Sometimes, people who use cocaine slip into comas. About 15,000 overdose deaths involve cocaine use. Many of these deaths are due to heart attack, stroke, or hyperthermia.
Cocaine is particularly dangerous when combined with other drugs. Mixing cocaine with alcohol or heroin can produce life-threatening complications. Patients may stop breathing or suffer a fatal heart attack. People struggling with cocaine addiction need specialized care to avoid these outcomes.
What Causes Cocaine Addiction?
Cocaine activates the brain’s reward and pleasure pathways. It provides a temporary lift in mood, and it may even produce a sense of energy or motivation. Sometimes, patients turn to cocaine to stimulate themselves for work or exercise. Because cocaine can increase a person’s activity levels, some patients start using the drug to manage their weight.
But as a person continues to misuse cocaine, their brain structure changes. They have more trouble producing the neurochemicals needed to feel pleasure and excitement. Cocaine highjacks the neural pathways, and it can be difficult for the brain to function without the drug. At this stage, a person may be physically dependent on cocaine.
Cocaine also elevates stress hormones. The patient may be less able to manage negative emotions. Neurological changes caused by cocaine use can impair decision-making and adaptive learning. These changes make it hard for the patient to recognize that they need treatment.
Many patients begin using cocaine as a party drug. But over time, they find themselves dependent on the drug for everyday functioning. They may start to feel painful withdrawal symptoms when they stop using, at which time powerful drug cravings begin to set in. Slowly, the patient’s life starts to revolve around getting and staying high.
Patients who have reached this stage may be diagnosed with an addiction disorder. Most people can’t overcome addiction on their own. They need targeted treatments, including a supervised detox program.
How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated?
Treatment begins with medical detox. Patients spend a period clearing the drug from their bodies. Without medical care, cocaine withdrawal can be painful. Most patients aren’t able to manage detox on their own. A medical detox program provides support and symptom relief.
At ICFR, our 24/7 nursing team provides round-the-clock care. Patients receive medication to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The medical staff supervises patients to ensure their safety and comfort. After patients finish detox, they’re ready to move on to the next stage in treatment.
Patients who misuse cocaine sometimes have an underlying psychiatric problem. They may turn to cocaine to cope with the effects of depression or anxiety. These medical issues need treatment, and a well-rounded treatment program can support patients on the road to recovery.
Our medical team may use prescription medication to stabilize the patient’s brain chemistry. Medication can relieve symptoms of depression and insomnia. It can also ease restlessness and agitation. Some medications also act on the part of the brain that affects addiction. These treatments could help reduce the patient’s risk of relapse.
Psychotherapy is a vital part of addiction treatment. ICFR uses evidence-based modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps patients identify and change unhealthy thought patterns. Patients learn new behavioral techniques and coping strategies, too. With the help of our therapy team, patients work through the symptoms of their addiction.
Many patients struggle with personal and professional problems linked to their addiction. Therapy helps patients rebuild their relationships and their professional lives. Family therapy and couples’ counseling can help, too. These treatments focus on improving the patient’s closest relationships. Therapy helps families heal from addiction.
ICFR uses a variety of therapeutic techniques, including motivational enhancement therapy (MET). This approach helps patients stay motivated and focused on their recovery. Several studies support the long-term effectiveness of MET.
What Form of Addiction Treatment Is Best?
Patients struggling with cocaine addiction may need several forms of care. Treatment programs may include inpatient and outpatient phases.
Inpatient rehab may include medically assisted detox or residential rehab. During detox, patients focus on clearing the drug from their system. The medical staff offers guidance, help, and supervision. Patients focus on achieving physical and psychological stability.
In residential rehab, patients begin to overcome the damage caused by drug use. Our full-time psychiatrists may prescribe medications, and patients attend individual and group therapy sessions. During therapy, patients receive targeted counseling and learn strategies that support recovery.
Throughout residential care, patients have access to a wide range of amenities at our treatment facility. ICFR has a private chef and in-house nutritionist. Patients receive 24/7 medical support from our dedicated nursing staff.
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
PHPs are often a “step down” from residential rehab. Patients may attend rehab during the day, then return home at night. During each daily session, patients continue with therapy and group activities. PHP is ideal for patients who need continued support but are ready for some degree of independence.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)
IOPs are often designed for working patients. These programs may take place in the late afternoon or early evening. Patients take care of their personal or professional obligations during the workday, then return to the center for their rehab program.
Standard outpatient programs (OPs)
Once patients have made significant progress in their recovery, they may visit the facility for treatment less often. Patients attend therapy sessions 1-2 times a week. They might also visit their psychiatrist or attend a support group meeting.
Life in Recovery
Recovering from cocaine addiction can be a life-long process. ICFR provides ongoing support as patients reintegrate into their normal lives. Our team delivers holistic care that supports lifelong recovery.
If you or a loved one is looking for treatment for a substance use disorder, ICFR can offer personalized guidance. Call our 24/7 helpline at (844) 650-0064. All calls are 100% confidential.