Cocaine Addiction Treatment

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What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an addictive stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant. While some forms of cocaine were once used in hospitals as a topical anesthetic, it has largely been replaced by alternative anesthetics. With such few therapeutic uses, cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance. Cocaine is most often seen as a white powder that is snorted, although some users inject or smoke it. Cocaine is also used to produce crack, another stimulant drug that produces a short, intense high. Crack cocaine is an opaque whitish rock crystal which releases vapors when smoked, causing the rapid high.

Cocaine can be referred to as coke, C, snow, powder and blow, among other names. While cocaine itself is a dangerous substance, there is no way to control the quality of an illicit substance, meaning the drug could be cut with fillers such as baking soda, laxatives, battery acid or other drugs. It can be extremely difficult to determine one white powder from another, which can have irritating to life-threatening effects.

Stimulants such as cocaine and various amphetamines (especially methamphetamine, certain designer drugs like MDMA and bath salts) are popular drugs of abuse; their users span the entire spectrum of social and economic classes. Repeated use of stimulants may significantly alter the balance of chemicals in your brain, affecting your mood, sleep, energy level, and your thinking ability.

Cocaine addiction dangers and effects

When snorting, smoking or injecting cocaine, the following effects are common:

  • Euphoria
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Decreased appetite

When the high of cocaine disappears, cocaine users may experience the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Extremely low energy

Serious medical complications from cocaine use include:

  • Heart attack
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Coma
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Death

These symptoms can be deadly if not treated immediately.

Habitual cocaine use changes the physiology of the brain. Glutamate neurotransmitter release is profoundly changed, altering the brain’s reward pathway for the worse. Additionally, research suggests that cocaine elevates stress hormones. This could create a vicious cycle in which repeated cocaine use creates stress, and the user copes with stress by taking more cocaine. With these neuronal and hormonal imbalances, cocaine addiction is truly a chronic brain disease, and at Enterhealth we treat it as such.

Long-term cocaine addiction has serious health consequences, including:

  • Tolerance to cocaine reward (requiring more cocaine to experience a high)
  • Sensitization to cocaine toxicity (toxic effects felt more quickly)
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Nosebleeds and nasal irritation
  • Worsened asthma (from smoking crack cocaine)
  • High risk of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis (from injection)
  • Decreased sexual performance
  • Depression
  • Dysphoria
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Cognitive impairment

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms

Most stimulant withdrawal signs and symptoms usually begin to occur within twenty-four hours of the last dose of stimulation.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive hunger
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Significant problems with memory and thinking

These problems vary in severity and duration depending on the amount of cocaine taken and duration of use. Some people use stimulants to counteract the drowsiness or “down” caused by sleeping pills or alcohol. The “up/down” cycle is extremely dangerous and hard on the body. Stimulant withdrawal can produce profound loss of energy and very intense cravings, which frequently result in relapse back to using and even death. The type of stimulant used affects how long it takes for the withdrawal symptoms to subside. Someone addicted to cocaine tends to have a shorter withdrawal time compared with those addicted to prescription stimulants such as Adderall.

Cocaine withdrawal stabilization

Brain chemical imbalances caused by stimulant addiction can cause severe cravings during the early sobriety period (up to twelve to eighteen months after stopping the stimulant) and both these severe cravings for the stimulant, as well as trouble thinking clearly, can cause an elevated risk of relapse to stimulant or other drug use.

Unfortunately, no medications have been specifically approved for the treatment of stimulant dependence by the FDA at this time. However, a variety of medications for stimulant addiction have been tested in numerous research trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Modafinil (trade name Provigil), a medication which is used to treat sleep disorders, shows real promise for cocaine addiction, possibly by reducing cocaine withdrawal symptoms. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, this medicine, at a dose of 200 mg per day, in combination with talking therapy, increased the ability of some addicts to abstain from using cocaine, as well as reducing their cravings. Propranolol (trade name Inderal) also seems to help decrease the cocaine withdrawal symptoms. These first two potential medications seem to help reduce cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Yet another group of potential “anti-stimulant” medications have been found to help to prevent relapse to stimulant use (especially cocaine) during the later phases of treatment. Some of the more promising medications used for this goal include topiramate (trade name Topamax) disulfiram (trade name Antabuse), gabapentin (trade name Neurontin) and naltrexone (trade name Vivitrol).

Cocaine addiction treatment options

An evidence-based combination of therapeutic and pharmacological addiction treatment can help those with cocaine addiction regain a stable and productive life. Research shows that integrating both types of treatment is the most effective approach to restoring a degree of normal function to the brain and addressing underlying issues.

Enterhealth Ranch provides inpatient drug and alcohol detox (also known as withdrawal stabilization) services for cocaine addiction, which includes science-based medication therapyand medical staff available at any hour of the day.

Effective behavioral treatments for cocaine addiction can be administered in a residential or outpatient setting. A treatment plan may include:

  • Psychiatric assessment and treatment
  • Neuropsychological assessment and treatment
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
  • Wellness, nutritional and stress management treatment services
  • Medication management

Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence offer the full continuum of care including residential and outpatient treatment options, both integrated together for the patient’s individual situation. During the residential phase of treatment, patients live at our 43-acre ranch facility while undergoing treatment. Among many other treatments, patients attend addiction recovery therapy sessions that are specialized to each individual’s addiction challenges. Upon completion of the residential rehabilitation phase, the patient can transition to our outpatient facility, where patients receive continued, medically supervised treatment while living at their own residence.

Through therapy and counseling for cocaine addiction treatment, the psychological aspects of dependency can be better understood by the patient and addiction can be completely overcome. Counseling may be individual or group-oriented, and may also include the family. Continuing care programs are also available, as they are essential to provide counseling and continued support over a number of years.

Cocaine addiction recovery with Enterhealth

People suffering from cocaine addiction may feel hopeless, but they are not alone. Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence can help you or a loved one begin recovery at our 43-acre residential cocaine addiction treatment program just north of Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, and our outpatient cocaine addiction treatment program located in the Preston Center area of Dallas.

At Enterhealth, our goal is to treat the whole person for a lifetime. We offer a better chance to recover through our advanced, evidence-based treatment approach, designed and administered by board-certified addiction psychiatrists, physicians and other experts, that is proven to be more effective than traditional twelve-step approaches.