Recovery Guide for Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive narcotic that raises your levels of alertness, attention, and energy. At the same time, it destroys your body, mind, and bank account.

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What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug from coca leaves. It was first developed for pain-relieving reasons. The toxic product gets access to your bloodstream when sniffed whereby the nasal tissues absorb it. Also, some users inject it while others prefer smoking which speeds up its absorption. All its intake methods are dangerous, but injections are more vulnerable due to overdose risk.

Cocaine is processed in different forms before it hits the illegal market. The three types of cocaine are:

Freebase: It has few impurities when compared to cocaine hydrochloride. It is white, and its purity is high.

Cocaine hydrochloride: This is a mixture of cocaine and different substances like glucose and lactose. These substances are mixed to help dilute before it is taken to the market. Its final product has a numbing and bitter taste.

Crack:It comes in form crystals that range from cream or white to a transparent color that might have a yellow or a pink hue. This product is less pure from the others but has similar effects when used.

It starts as a simple inhalation or injection developing into a habit, and walking out of it is close to impossible. Once taken, it starts stimulating essential receptors within a human brain, creating a euphoria that leads to tolerance. For a user to continue feeling similar effects, he or she is forced to increase the dosage and the intake intervals. Most of the South Americans who use cocaine chew the coca leaves or brew it with tea and believe it to be an appetite suppressant.

Cocaine is used widely across all US States. Both the old and the young going down to the age of 8 use it. School children are worst hit by this menace from its availability and affordable prices. Its secure and light packaging makes it hard for school authorities to detect their presence in school bags. The drug has several street names used by users. They include coke, Mojo, paradise, flake, sniff, toot, and nose candy, among others.

Cocaine Addiction

In the US, cocaine is the most abused stimulant drug. Most visits made to the emergency department are currently associated with cocaine overdose. Although it is not a new drug in the market, it is one of the recreational drugs. Its use has led to being called status stimulant, Cadillac of drugs, and yuppie drug, among others.

Unlike other drugs, cocaine is not addictive. But why do people keep on using it? This drug has powerful properties that are psychologically addictive. Its withdrawal symptoms are not physical, like what happens in heroin and alcohol addiction. However, the polydrug and multiple cases of abuse prevalent in the US have not left cocaine behind. Users mix it with alcohol and sedatives like lorazepam, diazepam, and heroin as a downer or an upper combination.

Causes of Cocaine Abuse & It's Risk Factors

Man Drug Abuse

There is no proven reason for cocaine addiction, but the environmental and genetic background are some of the risk factors. People living in families that are susceptible to succumbing to addictive diseases deserve to know this information at their preadolescent stage. However, having a cocaine addict in your family does not warrant anyone to become addicted.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, regular exposure to this drug can cause changes in your genes which might alter specific levels of brain protein. The proteins are responsible for the regulation of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that is responsible for sending pleasure signals to the brain, and its acceleration might lead to addiction.

Poor parenting exposes kids to use drugs with cocaine being the easier one to obtain. Communicate with family members consistently and avoid conflicts if you want to keep them away from drugs. Absentee parenthood is one of the reasons why many teenagers in the United States use cocaine. The youngsters associate themselves with a company that introduces them to drug abuse. Also, low education levels, poor socioeconomic status, and living in an area that has a high rate of crimes is another reason why people end up taking cocaine.

Does cocaine affect both men and women equally? Although men have high chances of developing their abuse, women are the most affected. Depression, family, and social problems make them create more cravings for cocaine than men. However, treatment centers record women as the highest number of people who turn up for treatment. Thrill-seeking attitude, childhood problems, peer pressure, and mental health problems are the leading cause of cocaine misuse.

Warning Signs

The Warning Signs of Cocaine

Regular use of cocaine exposes the user to the different side effects that might lead to significant health problems if left unattended. The vital warning signs are changes in behavior, moods, and functioning. People who develop mood change start with elation leading to depression and later extending to homicidal or suicidal thoughts. The addicts also become violent, especially when drugs are mentioned. The addict may become extremely defensive when they are questioned about their addiction.

The craving brought around by cocaine forces the users to steal as a way of raising money to purchase the product. This is popular among teenagers who mostly have no stable source of income. Besides, they avoid friends and start manipulating others to get money. Adverse stages of the cocaine effects cause deterioration of individual hygiene and eventually affects his or her appearance. Additional warning signs include low motivation and failure to meet the given obligations.

Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse

Symptoms of Cocaine

The effects of cocaine are felt different, but it depends on how its intake is done, purity levels and other additives. Also, the emotional state of a user is instrumental in determining the magnitude of the drug effect. Your health condition and the surrounding environment plays a role in shaping up its impact.

Do you know that cocaine affects most of your organ systems? The effects of cocaine on your body are divided into two; short-term and long term effects.

Short-Term Effects

The short-term effects of cocaine appear immediately after the user consumes it. Some results may last a few minutes; others may last up to an hour. Cocaine induces a euphoric feeling. The individual feels alert. He thinks like sensory perceptions such as touch, sight, and hearing are more active. The use of cocaine undermines the appetite to eat and need to sleep. Some users abuse cocaine so that it can keep them alert so that they can finish their work.

Long-Term Effects

Long-term effects take a worse toll on your body. It does not spare the brain or the skin. Here are symptoms that affect essential organs in the body;

Brain: Use of cocaine causes an alteration on how various chemicals respond to the mind. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine are hit the hardest by cocaine. Infants born by cocaine using mothers often get seizures that occur as a secondhand inducement of its smoking. Most people who rush to the emergency department complaining of headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and psychosis.

Central Nervous System: Cocaine users report feeling excitement, increased energy, less fatigue, and hunger, improved mental and physical health. Others feel decreased pain sensation, while others become talkative, laugh a lot, and make good humor. A spinning excitement, vomiting, nausea, dilated pupils, and headache are other psychological effects experienced by cocaine lovers. Although all these effects may not look dangerous, a user needs to visit an emergency department when they encounter a seizure or become unconscious. This can occur by brain bleeding, hyperthermia, stroke, or a slow heartbeat rate. Ignoring these symptoms will lead to the death of the victim.

Nose & Throat: A significant number of people snort or sniff the substance through their noses. This exposes them to sinus and nasal diseases that cause nasal crusting and irritation. Also, they go through recurrent nosebleeds, facial pain, nasal stuffiness, and hoarseness — the decreased supply of blood on their mucous membrane results in crusting, nose picking, and drying. As a result, perforation occurs in your septum, causing the production of foul smell, whistling, and nosebleeds. Use of nasal decongestants like Afrin can accelerate the problem considering that it narrows or closes blood vessels. Besides, others use nasal sprays to administer cocaine while in public since no one checks what is in it.

Lungs: Breathing and lung complications are common to cocaine smokers. Due to its big surface area and blood supply, the lung causes profound and rapid brain stimulation when cocaine is smoked. Residue from cocaine causes chronic coughing and bronchitis hence causing chest pains and short breaths. The lung can easily collapse from the effects of inhalation and the holding of cocaine breath. It starts with sharp pains in the chest, neck pain, and difficulties when swallowing. As such, the lungs start filling with fluid causing respiratory failure or death.

Cardiovascular System: Cocaine stimulates the nervous system triggering the adrenaline in the body. As such, a user experiences an increased blood pressure, heart rate, and chest pains from the decreased supply of blood. Its use causes artery narrowing affecting the amount of blood that reaches the heart. It also reduces the size of coronary arteries leading to a heart attack or cardiac death.

It affects pregnant women: Its inhalation or injection directly affects the fetus increasing complications during childbirth. Cases of placental abruption and miscarriage are common from women who take cocaine. Further, it causes behavioral abnormalities, congenital disabilities, low birth weight, and malformation.

Treatment Methods for Cocaine Abuse

The first step is to stop cocaine intake or other drugs that are used together. Most abuse issues concerning this drug need specialized treatment which can only be found in a registered treatment facility. Most of the complications that users go through are more psychiatric than medical.

  • Most complications, such as runny nose, anxiety, appetite loss, panic attacks, nasal congestion, and insomnia, are treatable at home. When you stop using the drug under observation from a responsible person, the complications will cease. Moreover, apply nasal pressure after every ten minutes and enhancing humidity levels will help.
  • IV cocaine users can lower the chances of exposure to contagious diseases by not sharing needles. Also, they should clean their skin before starting the injection process as a way of reducing the infection risk
  • Chronic coughs consisting of bloody phlegm can be contained by a complete stop of cocaine, marijuana, and tobacco use. Several over-the-counter medicines with guaifenesin ingredient and an active compound of Robitussin will help. Besides, increased water intake works magic in containing these coughs.

Pharmacological Approach

To date, the medical industry has not established any medicine that could treat this condition. Researchers are trying to see whether drugs used as dopamine receptors can help bring control in the brain. In addition, they are carrying out tests on different compounds that help restore excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission that gets disrupted when cocaine is taken.

Disulfiram, a drug used for alcohol abuse treatment, is used in the reduction of cocaine dependency. However, it is still under trial, and its effectiveness is believed to in converting norepinephrine from dopamine. This medication only works for a small group of people whose genes encode DBH enzymes.

A vaccine that will prevent cases of relapse is underway with its early tests already carried out. The vaccine will stimulate the user’s immune system, creating antibodies that will bind cocaine, reducing its chances of getting to the brain. From this research, researchers established that users with a high antibody level decreased their cocaine use.

Inpatient Treatment

Overcoming cocaine tolerance is not an easy battle. Trying to become clean in a neighborhood full of cocaine suppliers is extremely difficult. However, with an inpatient program, you are surrounded by users whose goal is to walk out clean. You will not be drawn to its use again.

How long does one stay at rehab? Most treatment facilities in the US offer treatment between 30 and 90 days. However, the duration might extend to a more extended period if the drug did more damage. An inpatient facility guides the user on how to start a healthy life that is free from cocaine.

These treatment facilities offer:

  • Equine therapy
  • Psychological counseling
  • Behavior therapy
  • Relapse prevention
  • Support groups
  • Aftercare planning

Besides, in this facility, a patient is safe, considering that medical supervisors can monitor the withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms can be very aggressive. The uncomfortable and challenging to deal with withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Hostility
  • Fatigue
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Sleep disturbances

The unpleasant withdrawal symptoms often cause a temptation to go back into abusing the drugs. Sometimes, the withdrawal symptoms may fade away, but cravings of reusing the drug may appear. For quick drug recovery, taking your loved one to an inpatient facility is recommended.

Outpatient rehabilitation facilities can be useful for parents who want to go back to their kids during the evenings. However, the success rates of outpatient rehabilitation facilities are lower than the success felt by those attending inpatient facilities.

For long-term sobriety, I highly recommend an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

Counseling & Therapy

There is no single pill that cures cocaine addiction. The treatment is a process that requires will and patience. There are pills that may help you get over the withdrawal symptoms, in any case. They may help reduce the craving of cocaine and also make the withdrawal symptoms less harsh. The pills may also help detoxify you from cocaine. However, after the medical treatment, counseling and behavioral therapy will be instrumental for long-term sobriety. Medication alone will not treat a patient effectively

In an inpatient facility, the patient gets full access to physicians, 24 hours a day. The inpatient facility may offer both group and individual counseling. The sessions with a professional therapist may help you learn how to overcome drug use. Other than the medical detoxification, counseling sessions are mandatory for a long-term cocaine-free lifestyle. The counseling and therapy sessions are instrumental in changing the addiction behavior.

After-Treatment Care

After the medical treatment, a patient needs contact support from support groups, family, professionals, and friends. The recovery process does not end after leaving the inpatient facility. These support systems will help the patient to push permanently past the addiction phase. The patient needs to keep in touch with the physicians. They also need to stay from an environment that may tempt them back into addiction.

Cocaine Anonymous is an organization that offers support to people recovering from cocaine addiction. It allows different people recovering from the addiction to help each other. They provide each additional support and hope to get over cocaine addiction completely.