Many people start using cocaine as a recreational drug. Others use it to stay awake longer so that they can get more work done. No matter how an individual starts, cocaine use frequently ends in cocaine addiction. Learn more about how this happens, the risks and treatment options.

How Does Cocaine Affect the Body

man with fingers templed suffers from cocaine addictionAs a stimulant, cocaine affects the pleasure sensors in the brain. It works by blocking the removal of dopamine, a natural neurotransmitter that acts as a reward system. Due to this, the dopamine continues rebinding to the stimulated synapses. This is what creates the high for which this drug is so well known. Additionally, it’s also responsible for physical and psychological dependence.

After using cocaine, the brain begins to rely on the excess level of dopamine. It builds a tolerance to the drug and starts producing less of its own dopamine naturally. The result is that users need more and more cocaine to achieve the same high.

When people stop using cocaine, their bodies no longer know how to function without it. This is why they experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be debilitating. These symptoms make it very hard to stop using cocaine without medical help.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

There are several ways to tell that individuals have a cocaine addiction. Some obvious signs in their appearance include burned fingers or lips, dilated pupils, and nosebleeds or a runny nose. Those who inject cocaine are also likely to have track marks at the injection site.

The mental state of people who use cocaine could also be an indicator if they’re acting differently than usual. They might be aggressive, delusional, euphoric, paranoid or overly confident. Cocaine users may also experience poor judgment, unusually high levels of excitement, and, in extreme cases, even hallucinations.

Doctors can tell when patients are using cocaine because of changes to their blood vessels and cardiac function. They might also experience cardiac arrest or heart attacks despite being relatively healthy.

Furthermore, cocaine addiction can cause long-term symptoms such as agitation, depression, exhaustion, intense cravings, and lethargy. The longer that people use cocaine, the more likely they are to sleep for long periods of time. They also need higher doses of the drug to function.

Treatment for Addiction to Cocaine

There’s no single treatment to help individuals suffering from cocaine addiction. A treatment program may utilize several different methods to help individuals recover.

The first step is medical detox. During detox, patients stop taking cocaine and receive medical care while their bodies adjust to lower dopamine levels. The medical team makes them as comfortable as possible through the withdrawal process.

The next step is education and therapy, which may include a mixture of individual, group and family sessions. Those recovering from cocaine addiction have the option of inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment programs. Inpatient programs are the most effective and require patients to live at the rehab center for 24-hour care. Outpatient programs allow patients to travel between home and the rehab center for education and therapy.

Many rehab centers also offer holistic treatments as part of their addiction programs. This might include acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage. Some facilities offer nutritional planning and address spiritual well-being as well.

The full treatment process doesn’t stop there. Those recovering from cocaine use must have a support system in place outside of rehab to keep them on track. This often involves joining a support group and following the 12-step program.

Drug Addiction Programs at 1st Step Behavioral Health

No two people undergo the same drug addiction treatment program because everyone’s needs are different. The professionals at 1st Step Behavioral Health understand this and build a plan for each client. Although 1st Step Behavioral Health takes an old-school approach and expects the patients to work toward recovery, the staff creates a caring atmosphere. The following programs are available to meet these needs:

  • Inpatient
  • Intensive outpatient
  • Outpatient
  • Partial hospitalization

Don’t let drugs ruin your health and relationships anymore. Get help beating your addiction from a quality rehab center. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at 866-319-6123, and ask us about how to get started.