The Facts of Cocaine Addiction

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, about one in six Americans (15 percent) has tried cocaine by the age of 30, and 7 percent have tried it by their senior year of high school. Cocaine is one of the most frequently used drugs in America, leading many people to seek treatment for cocaine abuse and addiction.

Cocaine Addiction and Abuse Risks

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that produces intense feelings of euphoria, power and confidence. All of these side effects make the risk of abuse very high for even the occasional cocaine user. The “high” that is achieved from cocaine is very intense, yet only lasts for an average of 30 minutes. After the effects of the high begin to wear off, the user will begin to experience feelings of anxiety, restlessness and sometimes depression, causing the user to actively seek another “fix.” This compulsive need to use more cocaine can quickly spiral into a powerful physical and psychological addiction.

Cocaine Addiction and the Brain

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. It produces intensely pleasurable and addictive effects, making it both physically and psychologically addictive. Compared to non drug users, the brains of cocaine users appear differently in both structure and activity level. Cocaine addiction affects the brain by decreasing activity, decreasing the ability to judge consequences, and altering the brain centers for motivation and motor function. Long-term use of cocaine can also affect the brain by impairing memory, changing mood behavior, and producing feelings of depression, psychosis, hallucinations, anxiety and schizophrenic-like behavior.

Signs of Cocaine Abuse

There are many signs of cocaine abuse, including the following physical, emotional and behavioral signs:

* Runny nose or frequent sniffing
* Nosebleeds
* Weight loss
* Increased susceptibility to illness
* Dilated pupils
* Tremors
* Perspiration or chills
* Nausea or vomiting
* Insomnia
* Changes in friends
* Loss of interest in school, family, or activities
* Frequently in need of money
* Unusual energy followed by excessive sleeping
* Depression
* Irritability
* Erratic behavior/Frequent mood swings
* Isolation and withdrawal
* Strained relationships
* Missed work
* Increased time away from family
* Stealing/Lying/Financial problems
* Thoughts of suicide
* Paranoia
* Auditory hallucinations
* Talking rapidly

Cocaine Addiction: The Short-Term and Long-Term Effects

The short-term effects of cocaine abuse are:

* Euphoria
* Increased energy
* Increased talkativeness
* Increased mental alertness
* Decreased appetite
* Decreased need for sleep
* Constricted blood vessels
* Dilated pupils
* Increased body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure
* Restlessness
* Irritability
* Anxiety
* Muscle twitches
* Paranoia

The long-term effects of cocaine addiction are:

* Tolerance
* Lost sense of smell
* Nosebleeds
* Problems swallowing
* Hoarseness
* Damaged nasal septum
* Chronic runny nose
* Severe bowel gangrene (if repeatedly ingested)
* Significant weight loss/malnutrition

Large amounts of cocaine can lead to severe consequences that include bizarre, erratic or violent behavior; heart attacks, seizures, strokes or coma; death; and paranoia that can lead to full-blown psychosis. People who use alcohol with cocaine are at particular risk for severe, dangerous side effects.

Cocaine Addiction and Different Types of Treatment

A recent study showed that about 14 percent of all admissions to drug abuse treatment programs were for cocaine abuse. The majority of these individuals (over 70 percent) also smoked crack and abused other drugs. 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.