Cocaine Addiction

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an addictive substance that is known to block pain. It is derived from the coca plant, where it gets its name. Cocaine is also a powerful stimulant of natural origin. Cocaine was discovered for its numbing properties when a doctor injected cocaine into nerve trunks in the early 1900s. The drug soon became known and used as an anesthetic agent.

How is Cocaine Used?

Today, cocaine is commonly used as a recreational drug. It is typically snorted, smoked or intravenously taken. It has more than a few street names like coke, snow, powder or nose candy. When cocaine is smoked or injected, it is especially dangerous as it rapidly enters the bloodstream. Users of cocaine quickly crave more and need another fix to keep the continual high they experience when using the drug.

When hydrochloride is removed from the drug’s chemical formula, cocaine forms a rock-like substance that is known by its street name, crack. This dilution of cocaine makes it possible to smoke. Crack cocaine is processed with baking soda or ammonia and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride. A crack smoker will receive a large dose of cocaine, and an immediate effect, from this form of intake. Crack addiction and dependency can happen very quickly due to the extreme highs and lows associated with crack abuse. This method of using cocaine is extremely dangerous and can produce serious conditions that can ultimately lead to death.

Who is Affected by Cocaine Use?

Historically, powder cocaine is an expensive drug associated with an upper-class partying lifestyle. Crack cocaine is generally thought of as a cheaper alternative and for many years was found predominantly in low-income inner-city communities. These stereotypes are changing, though, and cocaine use today affects people of all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

A survey conducted in 2017 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that adults aged 26 and older comprise over half of today’s cocaine users. The survey also noted that young adults ages 18 to 25 are at the highest risk of adopting a cocaine use habit.

Similar studies and literature reviews suggest that Caucasians are more likely to begin using cocaine earlier and are more likely to get treatment for cocaine abuse, while higher percentages of African American populations use cocaine in general. A 2012 report from SAMHSA also suggests that cocaine use is more prevalent in urban settings, with nearly twice as many cocaine-related admissions to medical care for drug use in cities than in rural communities.

How does cocaine affect the brain?

No matter who is using the drug, cocaine affects the brain in very specific ways that produce its stimulating, pleasurable effects. Most notably, cocaine interferes with brain cell communication, influencing neuron receptors by increasing levels of a happiness-producing chemical called dopamine. Cocaine is a potent central nervous system stimulant, and dopamine is a special neurotransmitter that allows the brain to associate with pleasure and usually exercise. The excess of dopamine produced when using cocaine is responsible for all pleasurable effects, those described as euphoric. Dopamine can also interfere with the brain’s rewards pathways, essentially training the brain to feel good about using cocaine and in turn causing users to develop cravings and cocaine dependency.

With repeated use, the drug can cause serious long-term changes in the brain’s reward system and may lead to addiction. Tolerance to cocaine can develop, so users must take higher doses to achieve the same effects. Many cocaine users report that they fall short of attaining as much pleasure as they did from their first experience and fall into addiction as they repeatedly use the drug in an effort to reach that unattainable high. Some will increase their dose in an attempt to raise and extend the euphoria, but this can also increase the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects. In addition, taking higher doses places an individual at a higher risk of overdose.

Can Cocaine Abuse Cause Overdose?

A cocaine overdose is highly likely. As one of the world’s most dangerous drugs, cocaine can lead to seizures and life-threatening heart failure. It has been known to cause cerebral hemorrhages, stroke and respiratory failure. There isn’t one special treatment or medication for cocaine overdose; users of the drug who do not overdose still pose an extreme risk to their bodies with the possibility of detrimental health consequences. Some studies demonstrate that injecting or smoking cocaine can have great risks and complications for the human body. Individuals who smoke the drug may become more quickly addicted.

The development of respiratory conditions, such as lung disease (trauma and internal bleeding), shortness of breath, and coughing is associated with smoking cocaine. The development of nasal problems, including frequent nosebleeds and damage to the septum, is associated with snorting the drug. Finally, skin and circulatory problems, such as infections, sores and blood vessel weakness or collapse, are associated with cocaine injections.

What is Treatment for Cocaine Addiction Like?

Cocaine is a dangerous drug. Treatment requires expert medical and clinical care to be successful. For most individuals struggling with cocaine or crack addiction, treatment will consist of several stages of decreasingly intensive care as they adjust to sobriety and learn to lead a fulfilling independent life.

For individuals who have an acute or long-term addiction to cocaine, recovery treatment may begin with detox. Detox programs eliminate cocaine or crack from the body’s systems to achieve physical sobriety — depending on the individual and the severity of the addiction, this can take between 3 and 10 days.

Detox is typically followed by a residential program, where patients live in a safe and sober environment as they engage in daily therapeutic and recovery-related activities. Residential programs often last between 30 and 90 days, but many modern treatment centers like Avalon Malibu offer flexible-length programming to ensure that clients are not expected to leave before they are ready. Residential treatment may be followed by outpatient or transitional care that helps individuals slowly re-adjust to living on their own. In outpatient settings, part-time care is provided on a flexible schedule that allows individuals to return to work, school or family responsibilities while staying connected to a recovery community.

Cocaine rehabilitation programs typically last a few months; however, addiction is a chronic illness that must be managed over the course of a lifetime. Even after a specific cocaine treatment program is complete, individuals should continue engaging with recovery resources such as support groups, 12-Step meetings, therapy or counseling.

Cocaine Treatment at Avalon Malibu

The Cottage House at Avalon Malibu is a Los Angeles-area treatment center specially qualified to work with clients who are in need of cocaine rehab. Our cocaine rehabilitation center along the Pacific Ocean is a tranquil escape where clients may connect from within and overcome the cravings and vicious cycle of cocaine abuse. Our integrative and evidence-based programs combine mind, body and spirit to impart new ways of being and living, based on potential rather than pathology. When a client arrives for treatment at Avalon’s Cottage House, they are provided the highest level of care, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We focus on rebuilding a cocaine user’s strength, self-esteem and quality of life. We strive to lead clients toward facing their fears and impart the tools they need for everyday living and sustainable recovery, free from cocaine addiction. For expert cocaine recovery treatment in Southern California, get in touch with Avalon Malibu today.

Some of the Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse Include:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nasal infections
  • Nose bleeds
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Violent behavior
  • Twitching
  • Hallucinations
  • Chest pain

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