Everything You Need to Know About Breaking a Cocaine Addiction

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While cocaine had its heyday 40 years ago, the substance is still widely used and abused today. Cocaine is an addictive drug and can cause detrimental effects on a person’s body and mind. If you are struggling with an addiction to cocaine, there is hope for recovery. Here’s what you can expect when you start treatment for cocaine use. 

The background on cocaine

Before looking at cocaine treatment, it’s important to understand what the substance is and how a dependency develops. According to the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, understanding the biological mechanisms behind cocaine addiction is critical to recovery and is the reason treatments have become more effective over time.

Cocaine is a white powder and a stimulant that comes from coca leaves in South America. It was first introduced in the United States as a local anesthetic and later prescribed for the treatment of depression. Due to high potential for abuse and harmful side effects, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency categorized cocaine as a Schedule II controlled substance, making it illegal for recreational use with limited medical purposes. 

It can be inhaled, swallowed, injected or smoked. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 1.5 million people were current cocaine users as of 2014. 

Like other stimulants, cocaine raises the levels of the body’s central nervous system. This means that a user will experience a high including an elevated heart rate, increased breathing, and escalated brain functioning. Cocaine causes pleasurable effects, and these sensations reinforce a person’s use of the drug.

Cocaine use boosts the dopamine levels in the brain, which the body becomes desensitized to over time and this makes the drug addictive. The effects of cocaine rewire brain circuitry, so a person craves the positive effects of the substance and dismisses the negative. This neurological process makes a cocaine addiction extremely difficult to break, but with the right treatment, recovery is possible.

Cocaine addiction treatment

A dependency on any substance first starts with detoxification, which is the body’s process of ridding itself of toxins and adapting to a system that is no longer consuming the drug. The longer and more heavily a substance was used, the more difficult detox will be. Starting as soon as possible will make detox less difficult. 

During this period of detox and withdrawal, a host of symptoms are likely. It’s common to experience nausea and vomiting, sleep difficulties, impaired thinking, irritability, drowsiness, restlessness, soreness, depression or anxiety and suicidality. Severe symptoms of withdrawal should be monitored by medical professionals, thus the importance of professional cocaine treatment in recovery.

Treatment for cocaine use will begin with an inpatient (or residential) stay, typically in the form of a drug detox program. Cocaine detox typically takes around seven to ten days. Individuals recovering from drug use will then either pursue additional residential programs (like a sober living home) or outpatient services. The content of these two forms of treatment will look similar, but the format of each achieves a different purpose.

A sober living home is designed to safeguard recovery when returning to a previous environment could endanger your sobriety. These programs can protect you from old friends, a living situation or a previous neighborhood that might jeopardize your progress. These programs may provide treatment within the facility and offer vocational and life skills training, too.

Outpatient services exist for those who are able to return home and still participate fully in services. Whether you require inpatient or outpatient services as treatment for cocaine use, you’ll be sure to have therapy as the main component of your treatment plan. 

Additionally, you may partake in group therapy or a 12-step program as part of your cocaine treatment. You may also work with a social worker to handle external factors that affect your recovery, a financial advisor to manage a budget or dietician to cultivate a diet that supports recovery. 

While there are medications to assist with recovery from other substances, there are no drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to assist with cocaine withdrawal, so generally medication will not be part of your cocaine addiction treatment.

Many people who struggle with substance use disorders also experience comorbid mental health issues. Getting help for co-occurring mental illness will be a major component of treatment for some.

Embracing recovery

Recovery takes many avenues in order to address individual needs and preferences. While there are many possible routes, rest assured you don’t have to go the journey alone. A team of professionals will collaborate with you to create the best treatment plan possible so you can get sober and stay sober.

Pyramid Healthcare can be a key player on your team, helping you work towards recovery. Pyramid Healthcare is an addiction recovery center in Pennsylvania that offers evidence-based services to help you get clean and avoid relapse. Call 888-694-9996 today to learn more and embrace recovery.

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