Cocaine is a plant-based stimulant drug that comes in both powdered form and a more heavily processed form known as “crack.” While powdered cocaine and crack differ in their chemical features, both forms of the drug make similar changes in the brain when used on a recurring basis. These changes alter the brain’s chemical mixture and make cocaine abusers vulnerable to cocaine addiction. Cocaine addiction is one form of an officially defined condition called stimulant use disorder.
Users of powdered cocaine introduce the drug into their bodies by inhaling or “snorting” or injecting a cocaine solution directly into their veins. Crack cocaine abusers burn the drug with a heat source and inhale the resulting fumes or vapors.
Both powdered cocaine and crack cocaine increase the pleasure-producing chemicals in the brain and speed up the brain’s baseline rate of activity. These effects take hold most rapidly in people who smoke crack or inject powdered cocaine.
Is it Time for Cocaine Abuse and Addiction Treatment?
If you or someone you love shows signs of cocaine addiction, seek help. The underlying issues that led to cocaine addiction should be addressed, and cocaine abusers must learn healthy coping skills to sustain recovery.
Signs of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
Some people repeatedly use crack cocaine in an attempt to re-experience the initial euphoria. Initially, the brain treats the presence of cocaine as an unusual situation; however, with recurring exposure, the brain starts to adapt the way it functions to account for the drug’s effects. It eventually comes to treat cocaine’s presence as a new normal. This shift in brain function marks the development of cocaine dependence.
Some of the effects of cocaine abuse become obvious over time. Here are the cocaine addiction signs:
- Intense preoccupation with cocaine
- Requiring more and more cocaine to get the same desired effect
- Neglecting relationships or activities, or socializing with a completely new group of people
- Experiencing physical and/or psychological withdrawal symptoms during periods without cocaine, or using cocaine to prevent withdrawal symptoms
- Decreased interest in usual enjoyable activities
- Frequent runny nose or sniffing
- Dilated pupils
- Failed attempts to quit using cocaine on one’s own
- Poor self-care habits
- Anxiety or depression
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
Another serious warning sign of cocaine abuse is continued cocaine use despite the financial, legal, career or relationship problems it creates.
How to Assess the Warning Signs of Cocaine Addiction
The American Psychiatric Association has issued detailed guidelines for the diagnosis of cocaine addiction and other forms of stimulant use disorder.
- An individual affected by a relatively mild case of stimulant use disorder has at least two to three symptoms of either physical dependence/addiction or a damaging pattern of cocaine intake not associated with a physical dependence on the drug.
- Moderately affected individuals have four or five specific symptoms of either cocaine addiction or cocaine abuse.
- Severely affected individuals can have as many as 11 symptoms of the disorder. Stimulant use disorder includes both addiction and drug abuse because symptoms of these problems often appear together.
Health Effects of Addiction to Cocaine
Addiction to cocaine has both short- and long-term side effects. These can include:
Short-term effects of cocaine addiction may include:
- Dilated pupils
- Constricted blood vessels
- Higher body temperature
- Faster heart rate
- Erratic behavior
- Anxiety and panic
- Body twitches
Long-term effects of cocaine addiction may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Heart attack
Cocaine abuse can also lead to sudden death or cocaine overdose, when used alone or when mixing alcohol or other drugs with cocaine.
Causes and Risk Factors
Genetic and environmental factors influence the development of cocaine addiction. Some of the risk factors for substance use disorders include:
- Trauma in early life
- Emotional challenges such as anxiety and depression
- Loss, such as death, divorce or financial problems
- A parent or other family member who has an addiction (genetics)
Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
Many cocaine addicts have a dual diagnosis. This can include mental health issues or other drug and alcohol issues. All conditions should be treated at the same time in cocaine addiction rehab. At Lucida you can receive mental health disorders treatment as well as substance abuse treatment.
Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal
When a person stops using cocaine, their body must begin to produce the neurotransmitters, or feel-good chemicals, that were depleted due to abuse of the drug. If that does not occur, withdrawal symptoms will set in. They could begin within a few hours of the last use and can continue for two weeks or more. Their length and severity depends on the person and their duration and amount of drug use. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Drug cravings
- Nightmares and insomnia
Reclaim Your Life With Cocaine Addiction Treatment
At Lucida Treatment Center, we offer evidence-based alcohol and drug addiction in a beautiful, relaxing environment. We have many treatment options to help you begin to recover from the effects of cocaine abuse. Our therapists will help you address co-occurring mental health disorders during inpatient cocaine rehab.
Some of our treatment options include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Nutritional support
- 12-step alternatives
- Individual and group therapy
- Trauma therapies like EMDR
- Family program
- Continuing care
We’ll help you address the issues that made you vulnerable to addiction and build a strong foothold in recovery. Call today to speak confidentially with a Lucida recovery advisor at 844-878-1996.