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young man sitting on couch in front of table with various drugs - cocaine addiction

It’s surprising for some people to realize that cocaine—once considered an 80s party drug—is still a problem all these years later. Both cocaine and its derivative, crack cocaine, are serious addiction threats for people under their influence, and professional treatment is the only way to wellness.

Cocaine Drug Facts

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), cocaine comes from the coca plant in South America. For centuries, natives of the continent chewed the leaves to release their stimulant properties. In the early 20th century, “purified cocaine was the main active ingredient in many tonics and elixirs developed to treat a wide variety of illnesses, and was even an ingredient in the early formulations of [the soft drink] Coca-Cola.” Cocaine was outlawed in the U.S. in 1914.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the U.S. Department of Justice categorizes cocaine as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act under the following guideline: “a high potential for abuse and has an accepted medical use for treatment in the United States.” Cocaine is rarely used medically today, but a form of it is occasionally used to stop nosebleeds and in dentistry and oral surgery.

The DEA states that cocaine:

  • Is an “intense, euphoria-producing stimulant drug with strong addictive potential.”
  • Has street names that include “blow, coca, coke, crack, flake, rock, snow, and soda cot.”
  • Is usually in the form of a fine powder, which dealers often cut with “cornstarch, talcum powder, flour, or baking soda to increase their profits.” Another cocaine derivative, crack, is solid white rocks or chunks.
  • Is, along with crack, frequently combined with other substances: cocaine with heroin and the synthetic opioid fentanyl, and crack with ammonia, marijiana, or tobacco.

According to the DEA, both substances are practically identical in their chemical makeup, but cocaine is either snorted or dissolved in water and injected, whereas crack is usually smoked.

Is Cocaine One of the Most Addictive Drugs?

Yes. According to WebMD, here are the top five most addictive substances, in order:

  • Heroin (opioids are included in this category)
  • Cocaine/crack
  • Methamphetamines or meth
  • Alcohol
  • Nicotine

Cocaine and crack impact the brain within seconds, often referred to as a “rush.” Afterward, individuals “crash,” which includes “mental and physical exhaustion, sleep, and depression lasting several days.”

WebMD also notes that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports “5.5 million people used cocaine and crack in 2019, and about 1 million were addicted.” Most people develop a high tolerance to these drugs quickly, prompting intensified cravings and increased dosing over time, leading to substance use disorder.

Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

The short- and long-term effects of crack and cocaine addiction on someone’s health begin almost immediately. NIH reports the following:

Short-term health effects of cocaine and crack:

  • Extreme happiness and energy
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • Irritability
  • Mental alertness
  • Nausea
  • Paranoia, or an extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • Raised body temperature and blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors and muscle twitches

Long-term effects of cocaine and crack use, depending on the method used:

  • Asthma
  • Continuous cough
  • Frequent runny nose
  • Higher risk of infections, such as pneumonia
  • Increased risk of higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases
  • Loss of smell
  • Nosebleeds
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Respiratory distress
  • Severe bowel decay from reduced blood flow
  • Scarring or collapsed veins
  • Skin or soft tissue infections

Additionally, NIH indicates that “large amounts of cocaine can lead to bizarre, unpredictable, and violent behavior.” Overdose is also a frequent problem for people with cocaine addiction.

Cocaine Addiction Withdrawal & Treatment

Treatment for crack and cocaine addiction needs to be a multi-faceted and unified approach among all rehabilitation professionals. NIH states that “former cocaine users are at high risk for relapse, even following long periods of abstinence. Research indicates that during periods of abstinence, the memory of the cocaine experience or exposure to cues associated with drug use can trigger strong cravings, which can lead to relapse.”

In-depth residential treatment is the best option for cocaine and crack addiction. The intensity of this substance use disorder combined with how long someone used drugs means that a comprehensive continuum of care plan has to be developed to ensure the start of a sound recovery. While 30 days is a minimum stay, it’s not uncommon for some people to need a foundation of at least 90 days in rehab to fully address not only the addiction, but also the mental and emotional causes that led to the disorder.

It’s typical for someone going through medically-supervised detoxification to experience the following cocaine withdrawal symptoms for up to two weeks:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty processing emotions and thoughts
  • Frequent and possibly intense headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle tremors
  • Nightmares

Twin Lakes Can Help

The board-certified professionals at Twin Lakes Recovery Center use a variety of therapeutic techniques to help people gain new ground in recovery, such as:

  • 12-Step programs
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and experiential therapy
  • Individual, family, and group therapy
  • Psychiatric services, including medication management, if appropriate
  • Relapse prevention groups, gender groups, life skills groups, nursing groups, and discharge planning groups
  • Additional self-care methods for recovery success

If you or a loved one are ready for positive change and a release from crack or cocaine addiction, talk to a member of our admissions team as to how we can help you begin again.

Looking into cocaine rehabs in Atlanta? To learn more about our detox and treatment programs at Twin Lakes, please use the convenient contact form.
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