Cocaine Overview: Addiction Signs, Withdrawal and Treatment

In the United States, cocaine is the second most abused drug and has the second highest dependency rate. According to a 2006 SAMHSA survey, 1.7 million Americans can be classified as having a dependency on or addiction to cocaine. For many years it was a commonly believed myth that cocaine is not addictive because it doesn’t produce the same physical withdrawal symptoms seen in alcohol or heroin addiction. The truth is, however, that cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug that has psychological and physiological addictive properties.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug made from the leaves of the South American coca plant. It comes in a white powder form that is usually snorted but can also be injected or smoked (also known as crack cocaine).

Nicknames and Street Names for Cocaine

* Aunt, Aunt Nora
* Bazulco, Batman, Hubba
* Beam
* Bernice, Bernie, Bernie’s flakes, Bernie’s gold dust
* Big bloke, Big C, Big flake
* Blanca
* Blow
* Bump
* C, C-dust, C-game, Candy C
* Coke, Coca
* Line
* Stash
* Snow

Physical Effects of Cocaine Addiction

The immediate physical effects of cocaine are a sudden increase in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. It’s a stimulant drug that doesn’t last as long but, while if effect, leads to feelings of confidence, alertness and euphoria. Heart attacks, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures and sometimes sudden death can occur after ingesting cocaine.

The physical effects of cocaine addiction and long-term use are:

* Chronic runny nose
* Lost sense of smell
* Nosebleeds
* Problems with swallowing
* Hoarseness
* Severe bowel gangrene (from ingesting cocaine)
* Increased risk of HIV from needle use
* Severe paranoia
* Auditory hallucinations
* Irritability
* Insomnia
* Loss of appetite
* Involuntary muscle twitches
* Restlessness
* Anxiety
* Frequent mood swings

Withdrawal from Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine withdrawal does not often have immediate physical symptoms, but can cause severe changes in mood. The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal begin with a crash, or extreme exhaustion that can last for days. At the beginning of the crash a person will experience craving, irritability, agitation, dysphoria, the inability to sleep and sometimes depression. The final stages of cocaine withdrawal can include increased feelings of depression, sleepiness, mild craving and entering a state known as “anhedonia,” or the inability to feel pleasure from activities or experiences one once enjoyed.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine addiction treatment usually begins with detoxification to rid the body of all residual toxins left behind by the drug abuse. Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications for treating cocaine addiction and the withdrawal symptoms; however, there are a number of effective cocaine addictions treatments available. Behavioral treatments (in particular, cognitive-behavioral therapy) have been shown to decrease cocaine use and prevent relapse. These types of treatments are especially effective in residential and outpatient settings. Other types of cocaine addiction treatment are motivational incentives, counseling, residential programs, community-based recovery groups (such as Cocaine Anonymous), and 12-Step programs.

When treating cocaine addiction, a comprehensive approach that uses a combination of treatments is ideal. A professional cocaine rehab can tailor a treatment program that’s specific to your individual needs and assign you a team of specialists who can help you on the road to recovery.