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Identifying cocaine addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 13 percent of all admissions to drug abuse treatment programs were attributed to cocaine abuse in 2007. The majority of users that seek out treatment for cocaine addiction also smoke crack cocaine.

There are various ways and reasons why a person can become addicted to cocaine. Being a stimulant, cocaine has become very popular in the college-age party scene, often coming after prescription stimulant abuse. Studies conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse show that adults aged 18 to 25 are more likely to partake in cocaine use, compared to any other age bracket.

People that use cocaine are also at higher risk of contracting HIV because of how the drug impairs judgment and leads to risky sexual behavior.

Many people will drink alcohol and use cocaine simultaneously to prolong the euphoric effects. Prolonged use of the drug mixed with alcohol or other drugs makes cocaine even more dangerous. According to the National Institute on Drug abuse, the number of deaths due to drug overdose of cocaine was the highest in 2006. The Centers for Disease control reported deaths due to cocaine rose 12 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Cocaine stimulates the pleasure center of the brain and therefore becomes addictive to people who may have been born with abnormally functioning neurotransmitters associated with euphoric feelings. As a result, cocaine addiction occurs among a variety of co-occurring mental health disorders. Substance abuse among people with mental health disorders such as schizophrenia is a predominant factor in the link between psychosis and schizophrenia. (Fischer 2004)

There aren’t currently any FDA approved medications to treat cocaine addiction; however, the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) works very hard to identify and test new medications to treat cocaine addiction. (NIDA 2014) Certain drugs can be prescribed to reduce the cravings for cocaine. The medication Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant that reduces cocaine use and makes cravings for cocaine much easier to overcome. The drug increases the neurotransmitter GABA, which results in a calming effect and reduces a person’s stress. There are common side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, headaches, anxiety and heartburn. Antidepressant drugs have been used to reduce the withdrawal symptoms of chronic cocaine abuse including depression, mood swings and confusion. (Reid; Thakkar 2009)

Psychiatric treatment can be very effective in treating people with cocaine addictions, especially if there are co-occurring disorders. However, not everybody responds well to a lifetime of psychiatric treatment. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to learn different coping skills to deal with common stressors of life, as well as minimizing or avoiding relapse triggers.

Getting plenty of exercise to increase endorphins, eating well and getting needed rest will help alleviate much of the stress associated with a recovering from cocaine addiction. Group therapy and 12-step programs can also provide a cocaine addict with fellowship among other clean and sober people.

Observational signs of cocaine use

  • Runny nose
  • Dilated (large) pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

The health risks of cocaine use are extremely damaging. Depending on how often and how much of the drug a person uses, cocaine can cause the following health risks:

  • Nose bleeds
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Heart attack
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Overdose
  • Death

If you would like more information on how to find treatment for cocaine addiction, you can call the Recovery Helpline at 855-441-4405 to speak to a member of our team and start the journey to recovery today.

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