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Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that looks like a loose, white powder. It is usually either ingested by being snorted up the nose after it has been sectioned into thin lines, or smoked (Crack). Cocaine takes three main forms – ‘Coke’, ‘Crack’, and ‘Freebase’. Coke is a fine loose powder, while Crack forms small lumpy rock-like crystals. Freebase is a crystallised powder. Other street names for Cocaine include Sniff, White, Charlie, Pinch, Dust, Snow and Powder.

Cocaine has a very chemical-like and bitter taste and smell. Crack Cocaine tends to have a burnt smell, like burning rubber or plastic. The most common way to ingest Cocaine is up the nose via snorting. The drug can damage the nose if it hasn’t been finely cut. It is common for users to wash out their nostrils after snorting Cocaine, or to switch between nostrils when using it. Crack Cocaine or Freebase is smoked via either a tube or glass pipe. It is uncommon, but some people do inject Cocaine by mixing it up with water to make a solution – a much more dangerous method of ingestion.

What Are The Warning Signs of Cocaine Addiction?

When Cocaine is taken, it takes effect in the body fairly quickly. If large amounts of the drug are ingested, it can be dangerous, with users displaying the following warning signs which are common in addicts:

Warning signs will depend on the amount of Cocaine taken and how often. Long-term Cocaine abuse and addiction can create several health problems relating to the lungs, heart, brain, kidneys and stomach/gastrointestinal system. Cocaine can also damage a user’s mental health, with depression and suicidal thoughts being very common side effects, especially as Cocaine withdrawal sets in.

Psychologically, Cocaine can have a severe impact on the brain and a person’s mental health. Image studies of addicts’ brains reveal that Cocaine addicts in their thirties tend to have brains that have aged by 30 years through continued use of the drug, thus speeding up the aging process. Memory loss, confusion, and poor cognitive function are all common permanent side effects of brain damage caused by Cocaine abuse.

What Are The Effects and Abuse of Cocaine?

Cocaine is a strong stimulant drug that gives a user a high or buzz. As a result, they tend to experience increased feelings of confidence, excitement, happiness and euphoria. Some people however tend to experience negative side effects when taking Cocaine, including irritability, arrogance, confrontation and anger. Once ingested, Cocaine takes around 30 minutes to take effect in the body. How effective it depends on the ‘purity’ of the drug, as it is often mixed and cut with other illegal drugs. The buzz or high a user experiences will generally last around 30 minutes and is a short high compared to other drugs. This is why Cocaine becomes so addictive, as more is required to achieve longer-lasting highs.

Some common signs of Cocaine abuse include:

  • Feeling wide awake
  • Overconfidence (to the point where risks are taken)
  • Being happy and talkative
  • Fast heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased body temperature
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Needing to empty the bowels suddenly
  • Feeling panicky

If Cocaine is abused on a long-term basis, it can have highly damaging effects on the body. Those with heart conditions or raised blood pressure can suffer from seizures as a result of repeated use, and pregnant women can struggle with fertility and pregnancy complications. One main physical side effect of long-term Cocaine abuse is suffering from a deviated septum – this happens when the skin between the nostrils becomes completely damaged and breaks down, so there is no longer any cartilage present.

What are Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms?

Cocaine increases the body’s production of the happy hormone dopamine, which is why users feel so euphoric when taking it. With long-term use, a user gradually builds up a tolerance to the drug’s effects on their body, to the point where their brain needs Cocaine in order to produce any dopamine or to feel happy or normal. At this point, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms are felt whenever Cocaine use is stopped. This causes a user to become more reliant on Cocaine to prevent experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Common withdrawal symptoms of Cocaine withdrawal include:

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can start within just hours of a user quitting the drug. The most unpleasant withdrawal symptoms usually occur within the first month of quitting Cocaine. The intensity of symptoms experienced depends on the amount of Cocaine taken by the user, and how frequently they take it. If a person tries to quit Cocaine ‘cold turkey’, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are very common.

What Support for Cocaine Addiction?

If either you or a loved one has a Cocaine addiction, it can be a worrying time and it may be difficult to know who to turn to for help. Some people manage to quit Cocaine on their own, but for others, it can be a more complex journey to getting clean, especially if Cocaine abuse has taken over relationships with friends and loved ones, a person’s financial situation, and their ability to go to work and hold down a job. If you know someone who may have a Cocaine addiction, the first step is to encourage them to seek help. Many people with drug problems refuse to accept they have an issue or seek help. Plan what you will say to them carefully and be prepared for any kind of reaction, including one that may be aggressive or confrontational.

Setting up an intervention may be a way of encouraging someone to get professional help for their addiction. An intervention should be carefully planned with advice from a medical professional such as a doctor or a rehabilitation clinic such as East Coast Recovery. The aim of an intervention is to make a loved one understand that they need help for their addiction and to get them to recognise that it is destroying their life. An intervention often involves a gathering of family and friends, who confront the addict together.

Treatment of Cocaine Addiction

Those who want to give up Cocaine typically won’t need a medically-supervised detox programme unless other drugs such as Heroin are being used alongside the Cocaine. Detoxing from Cocaine isn’t generally life-threatening, but can cause a user to experience very low moods, depression and suicidal thoughts. This is why in-patient rehabilitation is a good option so that the user can be monitored carefully to ensure that they are not at risk to themselves.

If you choose East Coast Recovery as your rehabilitation clinic for Cocaine addiction, you will receive a tailored plan that is bespoke to your needs and health. You will be able to discuss the way Cocaine makes you feel with our health professionals and will be able to share how drug use has impacted your life, relationships, and career. We understand that there is usually a story behind every addiction, and we want to know yours so that we can treat the underlying causes of your Cocaine abuse. Our clients also learn when to recognise their trigger points, and we teach them coping mechanisms to avoid relapse. Our staff are always on hand to answer any questions you have and are renowned for their expertise and understanding nature. We always ensure that our clients feel healthy, safe and focused on their treatment.

There are various treatments for Cocaine addiction that can be given on an inpatient or at-home basis. This includes family therapy and conversations with loved ones who can give you ongoing support, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help you change your thoughts, attitude and behaviour towards Cocaine, group session therapy in which you share your experiences with other clients and former addicts, and mindfulness and holistic therapies including meditation and hypnotherapy.