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Cocaine Addiction and Treatment

Cocaine is a highly addictive and dangerous illicit substance that plague millions of Americans each year. Learn here about the dangers, warning signs, and how cocaine addiction can be treated.

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Cocaine Addiction

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Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine is a powerful recreational drug most commonly available in a white powder or solid white rock. It is generally snorted, swallowed, injected, or smoked and is highly addictive.
Each method comes with its own additional side-effects. For example, snorting cocaine may cause damage to the nasal tissue, and smoking causes respiratory issues. Similarly, intravenous consumption can lead to scarring, infection, and vein damage.
Cocaine abuse builds up to addiction when it is no longer a “want” to consume, but a “need.”

Cocaine and Its Effects

When cocaine is administered, the brain releases dopamine, the “feel-good hormone,” as a response to pleasure. When this happens, the cells within the brain pick up as much as possible, leaving the rest to the brain tissue. The brain tissue then recycles the rest to regulate the levels of dopamine available.
When consumed, cocaine moves through the bloodstream to the central nervous system, altering the brain’s chemical composition and stimulating a sense of alertness and intense energy. This is done by overstimulating the production of dopamine and by preventing the recycling process. This disrupts the regulation process, allowing for continued dopamine production for extended periods of time.
However, this initial effect is short-lived and is often followed by highly unpleasant feelings like anxiety, confusion, or sadness.
Furthermore, cocaine abuse can have both short-term and long-term effects on your mental and physical well-being.

Physical Effects

  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Erratic sleep
  • Muscle spasms
  • Convulsions
  • Higher body temperature
  • Contraction of blood vessels
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Quicker breathing
  • Intense energy
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Increased risk for heart disease
  • Increased risk of cardiac arrest
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Damage of organs
  • Deterioration of nasal tissue
  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Lower libido
  • Increased tolerance

Psychological Effects

  • Excessive stimulation
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Loss of cognitive ability
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Intense cravings
  • Psychosis
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Addiction

Cocaine Abuse Facts

Prevalence of Co-Morbidity

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 50% of those who are addicted live with at least one other mental illness.

Drug Abuse in the Younger Demographics

  • In a study of treatment patients aged 18-30, the TEDS Report states that 74% of the admissions started using while they were 17 or under.
  • Around 10% had their first time under the age of 11.

Poly-Drug Abuse

A study shows that 78% of cocaine abusers also consumed other drugs in addition to cocaine.

Cocaine Dependence Across the United States

National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future Study shows that approximately 1.4% of 8th graders, 2.6% of 10th graders, and 3.9% of 12th graders have used cocaine at least once.

Worldwide Dependence on Cocaine

The UNODC World Drug Report states that between 14-21 million people abuse cocaine all across the world.

Signs of Cocaine Use

A substance abuse disorder can have devastating impacts on a person’s mental, physical, and social well-being. However, spotting the symptoms of cocaine use is difficult unless you know what to look for.

While these may vary for person to person, here are a few red flags that could be indicative of a cocaine addiction:
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased confidence
  • Sudden nose bleeds
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Poor sleeping patterns
  • Disruptions in personal or social life
  • Willingness to go to extreme lengths to acquire cocaine
  • Increasing tolerance for consumption
  • Increased dosage
  • Consumption despite the negative impact on health
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Sudden unexplained disappearances

How to Help A Cocaine Addict

Who Is at Risk?

Anyone can develop an addiction to cocaine. However, some people are more vulnerable to it than others. This includes:
  • Someone with a family history of drug abuse
  • An addiction to alcohol, other drugs, or other intoxicants
  • A pre-existing mental illness

The presence of one or more of these elements is likely to make someone more susceptible to developing a substance abuse disorder. However, developing an addiction is not dependent on either of these factors.


While you and your family may be assured of the addiction, the person who is addicted could be in denial of the problem. Additionally, even if they do recognize a problem, they may be hesitant about getting treatment.

According to the Association of Intervention Specialists, an intervention is effective when done in a positive, supportive, loving, and safe environment. Do remember to use an empathic, compassionate approach and refrain from accusations and blame. 


Do your research and educate yourself on substance abuse and cocaine addictions. This includes learning about treatment options, cocaine effects, and the psychology behind the abuse.

Patience and Support

It is important to remember that cocaine addiction is a disease and not a choice. We are all human and likely to slip up from time to time, but as far as possible, do try and be as patient as you can.
Recovery is possible, but it does not happen overnight. It requires consistent work, social support, and time.


Living with someone who is addicted to cocaine is not easy. It can be exhausting, challenging, and take a toll on your own mental health. Be sure to set healthy boundaries, and make them as clear as you can.
Be generous with your support, but also draw a clear line between support and enablement.


Some days will be easier than others. On the easier days, do try to talk to your loved ones about their addiction, and gently educate them about the consequences of their actions.
Listen to their perspective, and talk to them about your own. Having an open, honest conversation when they’re sober can be very useful in the healing process.

Family Counseling

Addiction takes its toll on an entire family. Finding help through family counseling is a good idea for those struggling to deal with the situation.

Living With a Cocaine Addiction

Living with a cocaine addiction is not easy. However, recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to recovery. You can get the help you need and turn your life around.
Do not be disheartened if you’ve unsuccessfully tried to quit in the past. Perhaps, you just didn’t have the help you needed to do it right.

Treating a Cocaine Addiction

Whether you live alone or with your family, there are plenty of ways to get help. While you don’t always need a 12-step program or a rehab center for your recovery, they can definitely improve your chances of success.
Most addicts who attempt to quit find themselves experiencing severe cocaine withdrawal, which often leads them back into their cycle. The right kind of treatment can help you overcome your withdrawal and give you the right tools to cope with your behavior.
Generally, you can choose between in-patient and outpatient treatment. In-patient drug abuse treatment allows patients to live at the center during the course of treatment and can be incredibly effective in bringing about significant change.

Types of Therapy

Several types of therapy have been proven helpful in treating cocaine addictions. Here are some of the most effective:
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
  • Contingency Management
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy
  • 12-Step Programs
These behavioral therapies use different methods to help you correct maladaptive behaviors and make meaningful changes.

Taking the Road to Recovery

Are you or is someone you know living with a cocaine addiction? It is time to get the help you deserve. Treatment Navigators are here to help guide you through the treatment process. Give us a call or fill out our form below and have a confidential conversation with a treatment navigator today.

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