Table of Contents
How Cocaine Works
Signs of Abuse
Physical Psychological Effects
Abuse or Addiction
Get Help at Michael’s House
Cocaine is the second most commonly available drug of addiction in the United States. Its use is constantly rising, and for that reason, finding help for cocaine addiction is becoming an issue for more and more Americans. Whether you are dealing with addiction personally or because a family member is addicted to the drug, it’s important to find help for cocaine addiction as soon as you realize that it is a problem. Research shows that the earlier you get treatment for your addiction, the more successful you will be in breaking free.
Michael’s House offers inpatient cocaine addiction treatment as well as a residential treatment home for men and women who have successfully graduated from a detox and rehab program. Contact us today for space availability and reservation information.
How Cocaine Works
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. The pure chemical, cocaine hydrochloride, has been an abused substance for more than 100 years, and coca leaves, the source of cocaine, have been ingested for thousands of years. When snorted in powder form, cocaine reaches the brain within seconds, resulting in a sudden and intense high. However, the euphoria quickly disappears, leaving the user with an enormous craving to get high again and again. The user usually increases the dose and the frequency of ingestion to satisfy this craving, resulting in addiction and physical debilitation.
According to a study performed at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, cocaine’s effects appear almost immediately after a single dose, and disappear within a few minutes or hours.
Taken in small amounts (up to 100 mg), cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative and mentally alert, especially to the sensations of sight, sound and touch. It can also temporarily decrease the need for food and sleep. Some users find that the drug helps them to perform simple physical and intellectual tasks more quickly, while others can experience the opposite effect.
Users often report feelings of restlessness, irritability and anxiety, and cocaine can trigger paranoia. Users also report being depressed when they are not using the drug and often resume use to alleviate further depression. In addition, cocaine users frequently find that they need more cocaine more often to generate the same level of stimulation. Therefore, any use can lead to addiction.
Signs of Cocaine Use and Abuse
Are you concerned that your loved one is abusing cocaine or living with an active cocaine addiction? There are a number of different signs that can tip you off to the regular use and abuse of cocaine. These include physical signs like:
- Red, bloodshot eyes. No matter how it is ingested, when the drug means late nights or long hours, this can be an effect.
- Runny nose or frequent sniffing. Those who ingest the drug by snorting are often plagued with this symptom.
- Change in sleeping patterns. Usually, in the case of cocaine addiction, the user sleeps far less than usual and may stay up all night or for days at a time.
- Change in groups of friends. As cocaine abuse increases, the user will often seek out those who use the drug as heavily.
- Change in school grades or work behavior. More time spent getting high usually translates into a poorer quality of work at school and on the job.
- Withdrawn, depressed, tired or careless about personal appearance. With more time spent getting high, less time is usually invested in outward appearance.
- Loss of interest in school, family or activities. Energy and focus generally shifts to the recreational when cocaine addiction is an issue.
- Frequently in need of money. Cocaine is expensive and those who use it regularly rarely have enough money to pay for the drug and other necessities.
- Weight loss. Most who abuse cocaine have an increased metabolism and a decrease in appetite, resulting in significant weight loss.
- Health problems. Researchers have found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol and manufactures a third substance, cocaethylene, that intensifies cocaine’s euphoric effects. The mixture of cocaine and alcohol is the most common two-drug combination that results in drug-related death. Overdose, liver failure and kidney problems are all common among cocaine addicts.
Physical Effects of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
Cocaine, like other drugs of addiction, affects the user physically and psychologically. The effects of the drug can mean serious consequences and an inability to function in day-to-day life. Some of the physical effects of cocaine include:
- Increased energy
- Decreased appetite
- Mental alertness
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Constricted blood vessels
- Increased temperature
- Dilated pupils
Different routes of cocaine administration can produce different adverse effects, according to the National Institutes of Health. Regularly snorting cocaine, for example, can lead to loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and an overall irritation of the nasal septum, which can lead to a chronically inflamed, runny nose. Ingested cocaine can cause severe bowel gangrene, due to reduced blood flow. Persons who inject cocaine have puncture marks and tracks, most commonly in their forearms. Intravenous cocaine users may also experience an allergic reaction, either to the drug, or to some additive in street cocaine, which can result, in severe cases, in death.
Psychological Effects of Cocaine
The psychological effects of cocaine are arguably stronger than the physical effects and can wreak havoc on the user, both while under the influence and after. Some of the psychological effects of cocaine use and addiction include:
- Mood disturbances
- Auditory hallucinations
In general, the effects of cocaine usually begin on a physical level and then affect the user psychologically as the drug begins to wear off. The more often the user binges on the drug, the worse the psychological issues will become. In some cases, increased states of irritability and paranoia can morph into a full-blown paranoid psychosis in which the user loses touch with reality completely and lives in a world characterized by visual and auditory hallucinations.
Abuse Or Addiction
Cocaine addiction begins with cocaine abuse or the conscious decision to take cocaine so often that its use can no longer be defined as experimentation or recreational. Repeatedly using cocaine on a regular basis is part — but not all — of what defines cocaine addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Stimulant addiction is so much more than just the action of taking the drug. When you ingest a stimulant like cocaine every day, the chemistry in your brain begins to change. Your pleasure pathway system is triggered and becomes reliant upon cocaine to produce the “happy” chemicals you need to feel content and relaxed. You become unable to produce those chemicals on your own. Your brain’s metabolism is affected for the long-term, which creates both a physical and psychological dependence upon the drug. When this happens, no longer can your cocaine use be termed abuse; it is now cocaine addiction and the only way to break free effectively and safely is to enroll in a cocaine addiction treatment program.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Some of the surest signs of cocaine addiction are the withdrawal symptoms experienced when the user attempts to stop taking the drug for any length of time.
Individuals who are addicted to cocaine may experience a variety of physical and psychological symptoms during this phase, called the detox phase. Symptoms can include sleeplessness, restlessness, anxiety, chills, excessive sweating, depression and, in some severe cases, suicidal thoughts.
Typically, the discomfort experienced during detox is not life-threatening, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, but it can be uncomfortable to the point that relapse is highly likely to occur. For this reason, professional assistance during and after the withdrawal phase is vital to ensure successful recovery from cocaine addiction. Additionally, in the event of co-occurring psychological illnesses or medical disorders, cocaine withdrawal symptoms can mean serious complications that require medical assistance – one of the many ways that a cocaine detox can assist those who are trying to stop taking the drug.
Get Help for a Cocaine Problem
Essentially, the best cocaine addiction treatment will be created just for you and allow for regular updates and adjustments as you grow, progress and heal.
Finding help for cocaine addiction is like finding treatment for any drug addiction; you should choose a facility that can address the specifics of your experience with cocaine and other drugs of addiction, including alcohol. This means finding a treatment center that can treat the psychological and physical issues you experience based on the length of your addiction, your dose at the time of quitting, issues with other drugs of addiction, trauma experienced before or while you were under the influence, and other issues.
If you have co-occurring disorders that are psychological in nature like depression, anxiety and/or bipolar disorder, then you need to find a cocaine addiction treatment that provides Dual Diagnosis treatment and offers medical and psychological help for both disorders simultaneously.
Treatment at Michael’s House
At Michael’s House, we offer a comprehensive cocaine rehab that provides medical detox for cocaine addiction as well as Dual Diagnosis treatment for cocaine addiction and co-occurring mental disorders. If you or someone you love is struggling with cocaine addiction and ready to start a new life without drug dependence, then contact Michael’s House today. We can help you free your mind and body from cocaine and help you learn the skills you need to maintain your sobriety long after you return home.
If you have questions about cocaine addiction or need help, please call our call center 24 hours a day at 877-345-8494.