Cocaine, often referred to by its street name “coke,” is a powerful and notorious drug that made its mark in the world of substance abuse long ago. Its effects on the brain and body are profound, and its addictive potential is undeniable. Understanding some basics about the drug, as well as cocaine withdrawal symptoms and cocaine treatment, can bring awareness to its addictive nature and negative impact.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a strong central nervous system stimulant that comes from the leaves of the coca plant in South America. It’s a crystalline powder with a bitter taste that can be ingested through various methods, including snorting, injecting, or smoking. Cocaine is notorious for its ability to induce intense euphoria, increased energy, and heightened alertness.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 5.5 million people aged 12 and older reported using cocaine in the United States in 2020. Cocaine use often begins during adolescence, and it remains an issue among young adults. Globally, cocaine production and sales remain a significant problem.
Cocaine is highly addictive. It’s classified as a central nervous system stimulant, which means it increases the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine. This leads to feelings of pleasure and alertness. However, these effects are short-lived, often followed by a “crash” and a craving for more of the drug. The cycle of use and withdrawal contributes to its addictive nature.
Forms of Cocaine
Cocaine is available in several forms, including:
- Powder Cocaine: The most common form, often snorted or dissolved for injection
- Crack Cocaine: Named for the crackling sound it makes when heated, this crystalline form of cocaine is typically smoked
- Freebase Cocaine: Another smokable form of cocaine, freebase has been chemically modified for a more intense high
What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse
Once cocaine releases all those feel-good chemicals, the brain is less likely to continue to release them on its own. Instead, the brain requires the presence of cocaine to feel a sense of well-being and people begin using the drug more often to achieve it.
In 2021, about 1.4 million people aged 12 or older had a cocaine use disorder in the past 12 months and approximately 24,486 people died from an overdose involving cocaine. Recognizing signs of cocaine abuse in a loved one or oneself is crucial for early intervention.
Some common signs include:
- Euphoria and Increased Energy: Bursts of energy, talkativeness, and intense euphoria
- Dilated Pupils: Pinpoint pupils, even in well-lit environments
- Paranoia and Anxiety: Intense anxiety and paranoia, often accompanied by erratic behavior
- Nasal Issues: Frequent snorting of cocaine can cause nasal congestion, nosebleeds, and loss of the sense of smell
- Financial Problems: Cocaine use can be expensive, leading to financial difficulties
Once addiction sets in, the risk of overdose increases. When an individual consumes more cocaine than their body is capable of handling, an overdose will occur — and not everyone knows what their limit is. Overdosing on cocaine can be extremely dangerous and requires immediate medical attention.
Signs that may indicate that someone is overdosing on cocaine can include the following:
- Extreme chest pains
- Fatigue and excess sleep
- Irregular heartbeat or breathing
- Nausea and profuse vomiting
- Vivid/disturbing dreams
If you suspect someone is overdosing on cocaine, call 911 immediately.
Get the help you need to begin your journey to recovery.
What Are Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms Like?
Constant cocaine use can lead to cocaine dependence. Dependence means you need to take more of the drug to achieve the high you’re used to. This can cause people to binge cocaine. During a cocaine binge, people use as much of the drug as possible until running out. They may stay awake for several days.
Cocaine dependence can result in cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal happens once you stop using cocaine, but the onset of the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine varies from person to person. You may experience them anywhere from a few hours to several days after your last use. People often call this period “the crash,” and it can last up to one week. Other withdrawal symptoms may last for several weeks or months. Some find they experience strong cravings for the drug for a significant period of time while in protracted withdrawal.
The withdrawal process from cocaine can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within hours to days after the last use and can include:
- Agitation and restlessness
- Depression and anxiety
- Intense cravings for cocaine
- Increased appetite
- Fatigue and excessive sleeping
- Vivid and unpleasant dreams
Medication-Assisted Recovery for Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be an option for some individuals seeking recovery from cocaine addiction. While there are no FDA-approved medications specifically for cocaine addiction, medications used in MAT for opioid addiction, such as buprenorphine or naltrexone, may be considered to address underlying issues or cravings. These should only be prescribed and monitored by qualified healthcare professionals.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Aliya Health Group
Aliya Health Group provides evidence-based care and individualized treatment plans tailored to your needs and preferences.
Our behavioral health professionals will help you address underlying issues like trauma, co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis), and unhealthy thinking patterns that can lead to addiction. You’ll learn relapse-prevention skills that support long-term addiction recovery from drug abuse. We offer a full continuum of care that includes medical detox and inpatient treatment as well as outpatient options.
Levels of care at our addiction and mental health treatment centers include:
Detox is the first step on the path to recovery. It involves the supervised process of clearing the body of cocaine and managing withdrawal symptoms. Our experienced medical team ensures your safety and comfort during this critical phase.
If you require a structured and supportive rehab program, our residential treatment program provides 24/7 care, individual and group therapy, and holistic approaches to healing.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
Our PHP offers a step-down level of care, allowing you to receive intensive treatment while maintaining some flexibility in your daily life.
Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
Our IOP provides ongoing therapy and support for those transitioning from more intensive levels of care.
Our outpatient services are designed to help you maintain your recovery and build essential life skills. We offer multiple levels of outpatient rehab including partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient rehab.
At Aliya Health Group, we understand that each individual’s journey to recovery is unique. Our personalized treatment plans address the specific needs and goals of each client. We prioritize:
- Holistic Healing: We emphasize physical, mental, and emotional well-being, offering holistic therapies such as yoga, mindfulness, and art therapy.
- Dual Diagnosis: We provide integrated treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders to ensure comprehensive care.
- Aftercare Planning: Our commitment to your recovery extends beyond the treatment program, with aftercare planning and ongoing support.
A better life is possible. If you or a loved one is struggling and looking for cocaine treatment options, call us today for a free, confidential consultation for our cocaine rehab program.