Into Action Recovery’s effective, individualized treatment programs provide compassionate treatment for cocaine addiction and dependence. Our professional staff has the training, experience, and resources to work with you to develop a program that provides you with the tools to successfully battle your cocaine addiction. We offer a range of treatment options, from long-term residential programs to outpatient treatment and support programs.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Use
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that has earned the reputation of being one of the most highly addictive drugs available. The drug may also be referred to as snow, coke, rock, and blow. Generally, users snort cocaine or inject it intravenously. If you suspect someone might be using cocaine, pay close attention for the warning signs and symptoms below. Like most drugs, these signals may be physical, emotional, behavioral or a combination of all three.
Physical signs of cocaine use include:
- dilated pupils
- persistent runny nose
- tremors or muscle twitches
- irregular heartbeat
- frequent nosebleeds
- sudden weight loss
- burn marks on the hands and lips
People addicted to cocaine also experience severe behavioral changes, often exhibiting erratic behavior depending on whether they are in the initial rush or the comedown phase.
These behavioral changes include keeping spoons, razor blades, plastic baggies, and other drug paraphernalia in their bedroom, vehicle, or in the pockets of their clothing.
After using the drug, cocaine users may show sudden excitement followed by rage and paranoia. They may also crave added privacy and social isolation or display signs of depression.
In some cases, users may stop going to work or struggle with financial issues or begin taking part in risky activities and neglecting friends and family. They may also struggle with sudden legal trouble.
How Does Cocaine Affect the Body and Brain?
Using cocaine negatively affects the brain and the body. Cocaine increases the amount of dopamine present in the brain. In small, natural doses, dopamine travels through brain cells leading to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. But cocaine artificially causes dopamine to flood the brain.
Cocaine also disrupts the way dopamine flows through cells. Instead of flowing naturally, large amounts of dopamine become trapped in the brain. The excess dopamine stops brain cells from effectively communicating with one another. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to these unnatural levels of dopamine. This means users need more cocaine to experience the same levels of pleasure they had with their first dosage. Ultimately, cocaine damages the brain’s structure, which can lead to seizures and other neurological disorders.
Cocaine damages the body, as well. As a stimulant, cocaine acts like a temporary jump start, elevating the heart rate, raising blood pressure, and causing gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and nausea. After years of use, cocaine can contribute to eating disorders, heart attacks, and even strokes. When injected, cocaine also increases the risk of HIV, hepatitis, and sepsis, a blood infection. When smoked or snorted, cocaine can inflame the lungs and cause a chronic cough and bronchitis. Cocaine use can also cause nosebleeds, loss of smell, and septal perforation, or damage to the septum of the nose. Higher doses of cocaine can lead to coma, kidney failure, hyperthermia, and brain hemorrhaging.
What Are the Short-Term Effects of Cocaine?
Like most stimulants, cocaine causes a short-lived, intense “high.” These short-term effects, which happen almost immediately, include a sense of euphoria and inflated self-esteem.
At first, these effects make users feel invincible and “on top of the world.” But at the same time, cocaine also leads to other negative short-term effects, including:
- Hypersensitivity to sight, sound and touch
- Paranoia and panic
- Irritability and anxiety
These short-term effects can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the method of use. Snorting cocaine produces a high that lasts from 15 to 30 minutes. On the other hand, the short-term effects of smoking cocaine tend to last 5 to 10 minutes. When injected, the short-term effects are quick and strong, but last less than 15 minutes.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Cocaine?
Long-term effects of cocaine use are quite the opposite of the “high.” In fact, after the short-term effects are over, most users experience the comedown, or “crash.” Often, this leaves users feeling depressed, fatigued, angry, and distressed. The effects of long-term cocaine use include:
- Loss of smell, nosebleeds, runny nose, and problems swallowing
- Cough, asthma, respiratory issues, and pneumonia
- Bowel decay from diminished blood flow
- Increased risk of Hepatitis C, HIV, and other blood-borne infections
Malnourishment can also occur thanks to cocaine’s ability to diminish appetite. Extended cocaine use can contribute to memory issues, psychosis, and heart attacks.
Is Cocaine Use Dangerous?
Using cocaine, even once, is dangerous. That’s because cocaine is highly addictive. In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cocaine is one of the world’s top 5 most addictive drugs. Unlike other drugs, cocaine has a quick, but short-lived, “high” combined with its lengthy, depressive “comedown,” leads to continued use and an accelerated path to dependence.
Cocaine users may also combine the drug with alcohol or heroin. These combinations are particularly destructive to the body.
When taken together, cocaine and alcohol produce cocaethylene, which produces high levels of toxicity in the body and can cause sudden death.
Cocaine and heroin are also poisonous to the body. The stimulating effects of cocaine are offset by heroin’s sedative properties. More often than not, this leads to users taking higher doses of heroin. In turn, their respiratory organs slow down due to heroin’s tranquilizing effects, which can lead to overdose.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) 13,942 overdose deaths in 2017 involved cocaine. In the most tragic cases, users overdose the very first time they consume cocaine.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal
After stopping or reducing their dosage, cocaine users will experience withdrawal symptoms. Unlike most drugs, cocaine’s withdrawal symptoms are more psychological than physical. They include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slowed thinking
- Slowed activity or physical fatigue after activity
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
- Vivid, unpleasant dreams/nightmares
- Increased craving for cocaine
- Increased appetite
Withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as 90 minutes after the last dose and can last up to 10 days or longer.
How is Cocaine Addiction Treated?
As one of the world’s most addictive drugs, cocaine treatment takes time and support.
Treating cocaine addiction requires medical and psychological expertise. The best way to receive this level of expertise is medically supervised detox followed by an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
During treatment, clients undergo behavioral therapy, where they work with therapists and psychologists to understand and change addictive behavior patterns. Many programs utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which explores the conflict between what people want to do versus what they actually do. In short, therapy unearths the reasons, thoughts, emotions, and patterns that provoke addiction.
Treatment also includes counseling, therapeutic communities, drug-free residences, and community-based recovery groups.
At Into Action Recovery Centers, we are sensitive to the causes of cocaine addiction and the physical consequences of both short-term and long-term use.
Our compassionate staff works with each addict to develop a custom treatment program to provide them with the best opportunity for long-term success and sobriety. Our addiction recovery programs include on-site medical detox, residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment and extended care.
If you or a loved one have been struggling with or showing signs of cocaine addiction, call our offices today at 844-303-3969.
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