Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

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About Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is an attractive recreational used substance that is commonly snorted intranasally to enhance mood, energy and produce euphoria. Cocaine is also known as coke, C, blow, powder, snow, flake and many other street names. Cocaine comes in a powder that can be snorted or injected and also in a solid form that can be smoked. Cocaine was first isolated and extracted from coca leaves in the mid 1800’s and before then ancient Incas and native Peruvians chewed coca leaves to combat the effects of living at high altitude and also for religious ceremonial purposes. As of today, there is no medical indication for the use of cocaine and therefore this is known as a very expensive addictive street drug in its purest form. It has a very high potential for abuse and therefore is considered a Schedule II drug according to the DEA. Cocaine can be cut or mixed with impure ingredients making it less expensive and even more dangerous. Crack cocaine is the solid crystal form of cocaine and can be smoked or heated down to liquid to be injected. Crack is the most potent form of cocaine and therefore the most dangerous. Approximately 1.5 million individuals aged 12 or older has used cocaine in one month’s time in 2014 and this number continues to rise. Cocaine is known to be one of the top five drugs involved in drug-related deaths in most areas in the United States and cocaine is the second most common drug-related emergency room visit after alcohol.

Is cocaine addictive?

Second to methamphetamine, cocaine creates the greatest psychological dependence of any drug, as it is known to stimulate the key pleasure centers of the brain causing an extreme euphoria. The high addiction potential results from not only the psychological and physical dependence associated with cocaine but also this drug’s quick developing tolerance. A tolerance to cocaine quickly develops only after a short time requiring the individual to use more of the drug more frequently in order to achieve the same level of euphoria. Depending on the method of use the high from cocaine can last 15-90 minutes and can take effect immediately up to 10 minutes.

How cocaine acts in the body

Cocaine is known as a stimulant, which acts to increase the body’s metabolism and also increase heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Cocaine increases the dopamine in the body, which results in a surge of pleasurable feelings, quickly followed by a low when the cocaine is depleted from the body.

How long does cocaine stay in your system?

Cocaine is absorbed more rapidly when it’s smoked. Blood concentrations of cocaine reach their peak level about five minutes after smoking the drug versus 30 to 40 minutes after snorting it. A person’s urine typically tests positive for cocaine within one to four hours of consuming the drug and will continue to test positive for two to four days. Cocaine will test positive in saliva for 24-48 hours and up to one day in blood. Like many other illicit substances, cocaine will test positive in hair up to 90 days.

Risks associated with cocaine use

Cocaine can affect many organs in the body including the brain and the heart. Since cocaine is usually snorted through the nose, nosebleeds and deviated nasal septums are common physical findings associated with cocaine use. The following are physical complications associated with cocaine use:

  • Altered mental status
  • New-onset seizures
  • Chest pain
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Myocardial infarctions (heart attacks)

Cocaine can also be injected into the bloodstream resulting in blood-borne complications such as hepatitis and HIV. Additionally crack lung is a term used by medical professionals to describe lung findings in individuals who smoke cocaine. Crack lung syndrome is characterized by a diffuse inflammation of the lung and areas of hemorrhage resulting in pneumonia, coughing up blood (hemoptysis) or respiratory failure. Cocaine can also cause behavioral risks and can lead to co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Cocaine addiction can uncover many underlying traumatic triggers in an individual’s life such as abuse, neglect, a parent’s divorce, or an unhealthy relationship. These triggers can potentially lead to a mental health disorder if the individual is unable to cope in a healthy manner. The following are behavioral risks that can be causes by cocaine use:

  • Increase risk for violence
  • Stealing
  • Lying
  • Social withdrawal
  • Driving under the influence
  • Erratic behavior

Signs and symptoms of cocaine toxicity

Acute cocaine toxicity can range from dilated pupils and a racing heart to generalized seizures and cardiac arrest. Depending on the purity and the dosage, death can within two to three minutes to 30 minutes. The following are signs and symptoms of acute cocaine toxicity:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Profuse sweating
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Vertigo
  • Muscle twitching
  • Pseudo hallucinations (cocaine bugs)
  • Euphoria
  • Restlessness
  • Bruxism (grinding of the teeth)
  • Emotionally labile
  • Impending sense of doom
  • Generalized seizures
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Severe hyperthermia

Cocaine and alcohol

When cocaine (a stimulant) is mixed with alcohol (a depressant) the results can be deadly as both substances can dramatically harm the body. Because cocaine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant both of these can act in conflicting ways on the body resulting in the following serious side effects:

  • Breathing problems
  • Increased heart rate
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of coordination and motor function
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cerebral infarction (death of blood vessels and blood tissue)
  • Aneurysm
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • Death

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Cocaine abuse and addiction treatment

Like most other addictive substances, psychotherapy is the mainstay treatment for long-term cocaine addiction. In a medical setting for acute cocaine intoxication, medications such as benzodiazepines can be given to prevent cardiovascular complications such as myocardial infarctions. Often times, co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders can be present with a cocaine addiction and both conditions must be treated. Depending on the severity and the duration of the addiction higher levels of care such as inpatient hospitalization or residential treatment are necessary. Therapy techniques teach individuals how to prevent cravings and channel their energy into other positive thoughts and hobbies. The majority of individuals will need long-term outpatient care or community care such as Narcotics Anonymous.

  • Ask for help: You have to ask for help. Sometimes it may need to start with a friend then asking the family for a helping hand. These loved ones are capable of playing a central task in the recovery process.
  • Find a therapist: A psychotherapist trained in cocaine addiction will generate a cocaine detox plan specialized for the sufferer. As well as seek out additional resources required for treatment.
  • Find a cocaine rehabilitation program: A cocaine detoxification center can help the individual deal with so many different aspects of the cocaine dependency. They can help with the withdrawal and they can address any co-occurring issues. They will also help the addict to work on any physical or psychological concerns that may be a result of quitting the use of cocaine.
  • Engage in support groups and ongoing therapy: Continued therapy is an important part of remaining sober. These group members can offer support and advice when the person suffering is backsliding.

Therapy approaches for cocaine addiction

  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT): Interpersonal relations are the focus of IPT as they work with the patient on learning how to better tackle situations, problems or issues. IPT also addresses four basic areas identified by IPTwhich are unresolved grief, role disputes, role changes, and relationship shortcomings.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a cocaine treatment therapy that works on the negative thinking patterns so the patient can modify their behavior in a more positive manner. Negative coping skills are switched with positive ones.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT uses the standard behavioral therapies similar to CBT and introduces mindful awareness and stress management components into the therapy.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT implements an acceptance and mindfulness strategy that employs multiple ways to change behavior in a positive manner and augment their mental and emotional elasticity.
  • Supportive Programs: These are programs like the 12 step program Cocaine Anonymous (CA). It also includes support groups, group therapy, family therapy, etc.