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Cocaine Abuse and Treatment

Using cocaine may be compared to a roller coaster. The person using this drug experiences a pleasurable "high," but that good feeling only lasts for a short time before the user starts to come down again. The cocaine addict continues to use the drug to attempt to recreate the experience they enjoyed so much.

What is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addictions can start off by the person being introduced to the drug at a party. They use the drug and enjoy the feeling of euphoria that it gives them. The individual may continue to use the drug as part of their social activities, and not realize they are falling into a cycle of cocaine abuse.

Signs of Cocaine Dependence

This is not a drug that causes a physical dependency; instead, it causes a psychological one. Other symptoms of cocaine use include:

  • Using the drug more often
  • Needing to use more coke to get a "high"
  • Neglecting paying bills so that you can buy cocaine
  • Selling or disposing of possessions to get more
  • Continuing to use the drug in the face of negative consequences, including not being able to sleep, poor work performance, or difficulty in personal relationships

Causes of Dependency

Cocaine addicts continue to use the drug because using it makes them feel good. The person using it feels energetic and has a tremendous sense of well-being. They keep using in an attempt to recreate the pleasurable sensations that cocaine gives them. Coming down from a cocaine "high" is not pleasant, since the user feels depressed. Cocaine abuse involves a vicious cycle of using the drug, coming down, feeling lousy, and then using again to feel better. 

Effects of Use

A person who is addicted to cocaine may experience the following symptoms and effects from coke:

  • Confusion
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excess energy
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid speech
  • Runny nose
  • Stuffy nose

Complications and Long Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

If the cocaine use continues, the addict may experience some serious consequences in the form of long-term effects or serious health issues as a result, including:

  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

Help and Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine treatment has two components: detoxification and rehabilitation. The first step is to stop using the drug. For a person trying to quit cocaine, they may experience intense cravings, anxiety and depression when they seek help. A medically-supervised detox program may include medications given to reduce the severity of these symptoms. 

A person who is ready to quit using cocaine can contact a treatment center for help. An online search can lead you to several places offering programs for people addicted to cocaine. Once the body is free of the drug, then the rehabilitation process can begin.

Beyond Quitting: Cocaine Recovery and Rehabilitation

Moving forward in the recovery process involves rehabilitation. A person who has been using cocaine associates certain people, places and feelings with drug use. They will need help to identify the kinds of things that act as "triggers" that make them feel like they want to use the drug again.

Over time, they can learn how to deal with their triggers and substitute other behaviors in the place of using cocaine. Both individual and group therapy may be used as treatments for this type of addiction. Another option that may be helpful is a 12-step program like Cocaine Anonymous, where cocaine addicts help other cocaine addicts. By sharing their experiences, they learn from and support one another as they strive to remain clean.

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