Tag Archives: Cocaine Abuse

Drug Abuse Makes You Stupid

The fact that drugs change brain chemistry and alter brain function, affecting the areas that control inhibition, logic, sight, hearing, and thought process is a concept that most people learn at an early age.

Elementary and middle students are accustomed to hearing that the impact drugs have on the brain are devastating, and the side effects of drug use can have a life-long impact. Understanding how drugs influence the brain can make saying “no” to the temptation to use easier.

Drugs and the Brain

The brain is a complex organ made up of many parts working together as a unit. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugs can alter parts of the brain that are responsible for coordinating and performing specific functions.[1] This includes life-sustaining functions which can drive the brain to addictive behaviors.

The brain areas most commonly affected by drug abuse include the following:

  • Brain stem- the brain stem is responsible for heart rate, breathing, and sleeping.
  • Cerebral cortex- controls thinking, senses, and the ability to solve problems and make decisions.
  • Limbic system- the limbic system is the brain’s reward center and links together structures that control our ability to feel pleasure. The limbic system is activated by healthy life choices, such as eating and socializing, but it is also activated by drugs of abuse.

The brain’s communication system uses neurotransmitters to send messages to its various parts. When the brain is exposed to drugs, these neurotransmitters no longer function as they were intended to function. This can be a good thing when a person is in pain and uses prescription pain medication to change the way the brain responds to that pain. But when medications have been used for too long or in larger amounts that prescribed, the brain no longer produces its own neurotransmitters and needs the drug to feel and function “normally.” This type of dependence on a substance quickly leads to addiction.

Brain Xrays

Cocaine and the Brain

Cocaine is a drug that is particularly damaging to healthy brain function. Brain scans taken of a person who hasn’t used cocaine shows a fair amount of activity. Brain scans of a cocaine addict show almost no brain function. When that same addict stops using cocaine for a 10-day period, there is still minimal brain activity on the scan.

Only after months of abstinence does the brain scan show that brain function is returning and, depending upon the amount of cocaine used and how long the person lived as a cocaine addict, the brain still may not be functioning at normal capacity.

Cocaine Addiction Rehab

When it comes to cocaine addiction treatment or trying to maintain sobriety after stimulant addiction is that while there are few hardcore physical withdrawal symptoms, the psychological withdrawal from the drug is intense. It hits hard in the first few weeks of recovery and then returns a few months later. This pattern of cravings and compulsive behavior with cocaine addiction, crystal meth addiction, and addiction to prescription stimulant medication means that long-term residential cocaine rehab is the best choice for cocaine addicts.

Through inpatient treatment, you put a buffer between yourself and your connection: if you can’t get coke, you can’t use coke. Practicing this basic principle for as long as possible means you build up time without the drug, which is so important in drug addiction recovery. You begin to meet new people, experience new things, and learn how to get through the day without cocaine or other drugs. Reintegration back into the “real” world is much easier on those who have more clean and sober time at a drug rehab.

Rehab at Michael’s House

If you would like to learn more about our sober living program or long-term cocaine rehab program here in Palm Springs, California, contact us at Michael’s House today at 760-548-4032.


[1] The National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drugs, Brains and Behavior: The Science of Addiction,” July 2014. Accessed March 28, 2017. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drugs-brain

Carrie Fisher Abused Cocaine on Star Wars Set

Carrie Fisher recently said in an interview that she abused cocaine when she was filming “Empire Strikes Back” as Princess Leia. During the scenes set on the ice planet Hoth, Fisher says she used cocaine.

cocaine-abuse-carrie-fisher

Fisher says: “I didn’t even like coke that much. It was a case of getting on whatever train I needed to take to get high.”

Fisher was 19 when she played Princess Leia. At 24, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and now, at 53, she is performing a one-woman show called “Wishful Drinking.”

She has been in and out of drug and alcohol rehab since she worked on the Star Wars series. She says: “I realized I was doing a bit more than other people and losing my choice in the matter.”

Fighting Drug Addiction is a Lifelong Battle

While Fisher isn’t proud of her past with drugs and alcohol, she’s under no illusions about her future. Getting clean and sober has been a lifelong battle for the actress and it’s one that she recognizes as something that doesn’t just go away.

Fisher says: ” I’ve been sober for three years now. I’ve been trying to get sober and stay sober for a long time. The longest stretch I’ve done was about eight years. Kicking drugs has been difficult. It doesn’t go away, it’s not like a virus.”

Drug Addiction, Relapse and Relapse Prevention

Once you’ve been through drug and alcohol rehab, kicked your drug of choice and learned how to live without drugs and alcohol, the real work begins: remembering to implement what you learned in relapse prevention each and every day. Fisher makes sure she doesn’t take her sobriety for granted; she even uses it as fodder for her performance. Not everyone can do that. But you can make sure that recognizing what you’ve been through is a part of your life. Service projects, 12 step meetings, sponsoring someone newly sober – all of these things remind you daily how you used to live, how far you’ve come and let you know that you’re only a relapse away from being back there again.

Finding a Network of Support in Drug Addiction Recovery

Refusing to isolate yourself at home or at your job and instead volunteering or attending 12 step meetings gives you more than just a reminder of where you used to be; it also gives you an opportunity to build a network of support for yourself. By choosing positivity, you draw positive people to you. These friendships and acquaintances provide a buffer between you and relapse after drug rehab. In the 12 step program, for example, you can ask for an acquaintance’s phone number and for permission to call if you feel tempted to use, but in some cases, it’s just enough to know that there are others out there that you can go to coffee with who are going through what you are experiencing. Surrounding yourself with positive people are clean and sober will help you to stay clean and sober yourself long after drug and alcohol rehab.

Call Michael’s House today to learn more about our drug and alcohol rehab program or our long-term sober living facilities here in Palm Springs, California.