Cocaine Addiction: Abuse Signs, Effects & Treatment

A Guide to Cocaine Addiction and Treatment

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that directly affects the brain. It can be used in a variety of ways and produces feelings of being more alert, energetic, talkative, confident, and sometimes even euphoric. However, regular cocaine use can cause extreme physical dependence and addiction, triggering feelings of anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Once addicted, it is difficult to stop using cocaine because it creates a craving for more.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Signs of Cocaine Abuse

If you are concerned that you or someone you care about may have a cocaine addiction, please consider the following list of warning signs:

Frequent Use of Cocaine

The person uses cocaine regularly, and in most cases, the use of cocaine has escalated over time. The person takes frequent and increasing dosages of cocaine to achieve the desired effect.

Compulsive Use of Cocaine

Users can’t seem to stop using cocaine, even when they know the drug will cause problems in their lives. They spend a lot of time obtaining the drug and taking it. They use the drug more frequently than they thought they would. Cocaine use makes users feel no anxiety or tension, which can be very dangerous in the long term.

Changes in Eating Patterns

Users may notice changing eating patterns, such as frequent and excessive hunger or loss of appetite. They may eat large amounts of food at one time, or they may lose interest in regular meals. This could be a symptom of severe cocaine addiction, which can lead to serious health issues.

Loss of Energy and Interest

Users lose interest in their life, work, and family. They can become less focused in school or at work. They may regularly show up to work late, even when they realize it may hurt their career.

Changes in Behavior

Users often start to change behavior and start acting secretive. They may have difficulty communicating with other people about anything meaningful because cocaine use has made them feel nervous, restless, confused, and irritable. In the long term, they may develop symptoms of mental illness like schizophrenia.

Cocaine Use by Others

Users may no longer have boundaries with their family members, friends, and colleagues. They may attempt to share drug use with others. They may also become aggressive or violent if they cannot get access to cocaine quickly enough. This is a sign that they have developed a mental illness, such as schizophrenia, from their addiction.

Cocaine and Your Heart

In the short-term, cocaine use can damage heart tissues and increase the risk of heart attacks. When you use cocaine, it blocks your ability to regulate blood and oxygen flow to the heart and brain. In addition, cocaine use can damage your heart’s major arteries. Cocaine use also increases the risk of stroke by causing damaged blood vessels to rupture in the brain.

Cocaine and Your Brain

Cocaine use can also cause brain damage by causing cell death and loss of oxygen supply to the brain. Cocaine use can cause these effects because cocaine influences how blood and oxygen flow through the blood vessels in your brain. This effect also causes a breakdown of certain chemical messengers in your brain that are needed for thinking, judgment, learning, and memory.

Cocaine and Your Skin

Cocaine’s effects on the skin can include a rash, irritation, and itching. The skin damage caused by cocaine use can be severe. People who have been using cocaine for a prolonged period may develop skin sores and blisters.

Cocaine and Your Mouth

Cocaine use can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, oral infections, and other dental problems. These problems can occur because when you’re using cocaine, you have reduced saliva flow, and your teeth are exposed to an acidic type of plaque. This acidic plaque comes from the chemical breakdown of cocaine in your mouth.

Cocaine Use During Pregnancy

Cocaine use can cause severe problems for the mother, the baby, and the child later in life. Cocaine use during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, premature birth, and low-birth-weight babies. When a baby is exposed to cocaine while in the womb, the baby’s heart rate and breathing may slow down, and the baby can be jittery and irritable.

Cocaine and Your Bones

Although cocaine affects the skeleton and can make the bones brittle, cocaine use does not cause tumors. However, long-term users may have more frequent bone fractures because of their increased sensitivity to physical pain. Cocaine use may also result in the loss of calcium from the bones and a condition known as osteoporosis. This condition can make it more likely for you to break a bone.

Cocaine and Your Nerves

Cocaine use can cause a variety of nerve problems. These nerve problems include numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, loss of feeling in parts of the body, and numbness of some regions of the face. These nerve problems are temporary and will go away soon after the person stops using cocaine.

Why Cocaine Abuse Is a Big Problem

Many people consider cocaine use to be a harmless, recreational method of drug use or party drug that provides a high. This overlooks the fact that it can have serious consequences for the user. Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that involves the brain’s neurotransmitters, specifically dopamine and norepinephrine. The drugs are used to produce euphoria and lift the user’s mood. It can also be used similarly to methamphetamines and MDMA (ecstasy). However, cocaine is far more powerful than its counterparts and can create withdrawal symptoms if the person discontinues its use. These symptoms can range from milder to severe.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

If you recognize any of these signs of cocaine addiction in yourself or someone else, you must seek treatment immediately. Treatment can help you get rid of your addiction, feel more mentally balanced, and restore a normal lifestyle. Most people recover from addiction with the help of treatment for cocaine addiction.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment means that clients stay residential at a rehab center during their rehabilitation period. They will receive care from an addiction team consisting of health professionals, such as doctors and counselors, to treat their physical symptoms of cocaine use like nausea or fatigue. At the same time, they learn how to overcome the psychological effects of cocaine use through therapy and counseling. Depending on the needs and drug history of the client, inpatient treatment can range from a couple of weeks to several months in duration.

Intensive Outpatient Therapy

Clients attend multiple appointments a week with a counselor in intensive outpatient therapy and participate in therapy sessions. They can also participate in education sessions that focus on the responsibilities of being an adult, how to manage stress and practical issues like working full-time or going to school.

Self-Help Groups

Self-help groups may be helpful for people who have already completed residential treatment but are still struggling with cocaine addiction. These groups offer support and encouragement to people who have been addicted to cocaine. Drug rehabilitation centers often provide support groups, and some even offer self-help groups to provide participants with the opportunity to help other people with addictions.

Drug Treatment Centers

Drug treatment centers offer a variety of programs and facilities for people who seek to get help for cocaine addiction. These centers are located in hospitals, elderly care facilities, prisons, and private homes. The types of services include accommodations, outpatient therapy, and drug rehabilitation programs that are followed until the person is entirely free from cocaine usage.

Probation and Community Corrections

People who have completed treatment for cocaine addiction may be able to work through their probation or community corrections by attending meetings at alcohol or drug treatment centers. Drug treatment counselors can also help them find jobs or housing while they try to overcome cocaine addiction in the community through counseling sessions and group therapy. Probation or community corrections are set in place after users have completed treatment for cocaine addiction.


Many people addicted to cocaine use detoxification as a general way to break their dependence on the substance. In this process, those intoxicated by cocaine can eliminate all traces of the chemical present in their body through various methods. This process will free users from cocaine’s effects and allow them to regain normal functioning.

Counseling and Therapy

Counseling and therapy are a vital part of the recovery process for cocaine addiction. Clients participate in one-on-one therapy sessions with trained professionals that help them understand the meaning of their substance abuse and how they can deal with it. Counselors will work with clients to help them recognize any patterns or behaviors that might lead to cocaine addiction and provide them with the necessary tools to avoid these problems in the future.

Support of Friends and Family

Family members and friends of people who have been treated for cocaine addiction must also receive some support. The relationship between users and their families is an integral part of their recovery process. Friends and family members must ensure that they provide an encouraging and supporting environment for the person in recovery. For example, family members must not yell at or punish a person recovering from cocaine addiction, as this can lead to relapse.

Significance of Treatment Centers in Cocaine Addiction Treatment

The significance of treatment centers for cocaine addiction is that it helps clients recover from its ill effects and put them back on track.

Trained Staff

The trained staff in these centers helps the client get rid of their addiction, overcome the psychological effects of cocaine use, and resume a normal lifestyle. The staff members have certifications and experience that allow them to help drug users overcome their addiction.

Various Treatment Programs

Users can undergo various treatment programs to overcome their addiction. The programs can range from a couple of weeks to several months, based on the needs and drug history of the client. There are also different types of programs, like intensive outpatient therapy, self-help groups, and drug treatment centers.

Comfortable Environment

These treatment centers offer a comfortable environment for clients to recover from their addiction. They have a personable staff to take care of all the client’s needs. This allows the client to concentrate on getting better.

Progressive Treatment

In this treatment, the client is gradually detoxified over some time. The withdrawal symptoms are gradual and will result in the calm after each day. In long-term detoxification, the symptoms will not be overwhelming, like the post-withdrawal syndrome. There will be no hangover or complications associated with withdrawal. The client will be able to remain sober and start recovering from addiction during the withdrawal phase.

What to Expect During Treatment of Cocaine Addiction

After withdrawal symptoms subside, the client will be able to experience a sense of normalcy. There will be phases to the treatment process. These are stabilization and rehabilitation.

Post-Withdrawal Syndrome

This is a severe withdrawal syndrome that affects clients after they finish detoxifying. This can range from pain to vomiting and insomnia. Clients are unable to work during this stage of treatment. They need professional help to overcome the withdrawal symptoms and regain their health and strength.

Stabilization Phase

This is the rehabilitation stage for the client. This phase involves treating the psychological effects of cocaine use and helping to restore a sense of normalcy in their life. Counseling and therapy are given to help them with this process. Clients need to be prepared to make changes in their lifestyles to live healthier, drug-free lives.

Rehabilitation Phase

The rehabilitation phase allows the client to regain their health, strength, and concentration. Clients can change their environment and begin to work towards building a new lifestyle, thought process, and routine. Clients also participate in various workshops and alcohol and drug awareness sessions. This phase of treatment can last for several months.

Cocaine addiction is a serious problem in our society. It has detrimental effects on the physical and mental health of the user. Cocaine addiction can lead to cardiac arrest, stroke, respiratory failure, and seizures. The best way to treat cocaine addiction is to work with a professional who can help you recover from the effects of cocaine and regain your health, strength, and sense of self. Treatment centers offer clients a safe, comfortable environment to treat their addiction. If you or your loved one is struggling with cocaine addiction, contact a cocaine addiction treatment center today.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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