Cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive drug that comes from the coca plant. People with a cocaine drug problem usually snort it through the nose or dissolve it in water and inject it. Crack cocaine is a processed form of the drug that is distinguished as rock crystals (also known as freebase cocaine). Crack cocaine can be smoked by vaporizing the crystals with heat. Cocaine produces a “high” that can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, depending on how it was taken. People with a cocaine drug problem often take the drug continuously, called “crash and binge”, to stay high. This type of abuse will cause changes in the brain that leads to addiction.
Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system and increases dopamine levels in the brain. It blocks the dopamine from recycling back to the neurons, where it came from. This causes high levels of dopamine to remain in the synapse between neurons, leading to impairment of normal brain communication. Cocaine is a dangerous drug and when it is abused it causes many personal, social, biological and psychological problems. Overtime, cocaine abuse will destroy the tissues and nerves in the body and the addict will become dehydrated, malnourished and emaciated. Addiction to cocaine causes many adverse effects such as: hallucinations, delusions, increased heart rate, high energy, euphoria, loss of appetite, anxiety, feelings of superiority, constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased blood pressure, nosebleeds, abdominal pain, nausea, headache, nasal perforation, sexual dysfunction, cravings and tremors. Severe symptoms include: panic, fear, bizarre behavior, violent mood swings, paranoia, psychosis, a break from reality, gangrene of the bowel, heart attack, stroke, coma and death from cardiac arrest. When cocaine is taken with other drugs or alcohol it increases the risk of a fatal overdose.
Cocaine Addiction and Treatment Programs
Anyone with a cocaine drug problem may experience a physical degeneration of the body along with a mental breakdown. They may also experience marital or family problems, unemployment, legal issues, social isolation, homelessness etc. At this point they may be ready to admit they have a problem and need help. There are many treatment programs that offer help to recover from a cocaine drug problem. The first step in recovery is the withdrawal process, where the addict will slowly be weaned off of the cocaine. Each person will experience withdrawal differently, depending on how severe their addiction is. If the addict is at an inpatient rehab center, which is highly suggested, they will be monitored and assisted throughout the withdrawal process. Medications may be given to the patient to help alleviate or completely eliminate some withdrawal symptoms. The experienced medical professionals at the rehab center will take every precaution to keep the patient safe and as comfortable as possible.
During the withdrawal process, the patient may experience any of these cocaine withdrawal symptoms: Chills, anxiety, depression, body aches, tremors, shakiness, pain, exhaustion, intense cravings, lack of pleasure, irritability, sleepiness, increased appetite, malaise, vivid dreams, agitation and extreme suspicion or paranoia.
Treatment programs that are offered at rehab centers are designed to target specific areas of recovery. One such area is in the treatment of co-occurring mental disorders. Approximately one-half of people addicted to cocaine are also struggling with a mental disorder. The most common disorders associated with cocaine addiction are Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Chronic Depression. Mood disorders are often associated with abhorrent physical and emotional experiences. Medications are available to control disturbing symptoms and offer some peace and mental stability to the patient. Treatment programs that are designed specifically for mental disorders are psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy. These treatment programs will help the patient uncover the underlying reasons that led to substance abuse. The patient will acquire new coping skills to assist them in addressing both mental and other issues, without having to resort to drugs to escape them. They will learn more about their mental disorder and how to treat it properly. Both the mental disorder and the addiction problem will be treated together, because they both affect each other. This is the path of recovery that leads to life.