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Cocaine is a drug that creates an illusion of increased strength in humans and makes them feel stronger, smarter, and safer. For example, a man on cocaine is able to drink more and feels greater sexual power. That is why some men snort a couple of lines when out with their friends. However, the problem arises when occasional cocaine consumption grows into years of addiction, which may also result in impotence and can cause serious health issues.

No matter what form of cocaine is being used, the drug is highly addictive. You can become an addict after just one dose. It can be difficult putting an end to cocaine addiction, but it is completely possible to do that and go back to living a normal life. Cocaine and crack cocaine addiction treatment programs exist for this reason, and they are specifically designed to make quitting the drug as comfortable as possible. And this is what we are going to talk about.

What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction & Cocaine Withdrawal?

Cocaine is somewhat unique in the fact that it causes more psychological dependence than physical dependence. This means that there won’t be any physical symptoms once cocaine is stopped, and instead, the symptoms are related more to the mental state and emotions. Already after first consumption, cocaine causes changes such as growth in tolerance and increased reactivity. Cocaine quickly loses its effects, but once tried, it creates a strong desire to feel its effects for as long as possible.

However, subsequent doses do not cause the desired effects, and cocaine quickly loses its effects. One loses control over own behavior, spends enormous amounts of money, and slowly reaches the edge of physical and psychological devastation. As he approaches binge, the man is getting closer to fall and reaches the crash, the state of the cocaine hangover. After that, his body and mind seek rest, but the disturbed balance in the body prevents him from sleeping.

Because of this, there is great psycho-physical tiredness, nervousness, loss of concentration, all of which is associated with a threat, a dangerous situation, and a feeling that something terrible will happen.

Later phases are characterized by lunatic ideas of stalking. People become paranoid, checking rooms, looking through the window for fear that the police will arrest them, locking the door and looking for cameras and microphones as they are convinced that someone is eavesdropping on them.

This period of paranoia is followed by depression, apathy, and the feeling of meaninglessness. Food becomes tasteless, and socialization with friends unnecessary, work performance declines, and hobbies are ignored because the desire and energy for any activities are lost.

Cocaine becomes the only one that makes the man happy and the only motivation to go out with friends and consume drugs again. However, 2-3 days after the effects of cocaine wear off, it is all the more difficult than before. For addicts who don’t get cocaine within this time, or attempt to stop permanently, they will be hit with withdrawal symptoms.

There are three phases of withdrawal for cocaine, each with a different set of symptoms. The first phase is the crash, followed by withdrawal, and then extinction. The crash comes soon after the immediate effects of the cocaine wear off. Withdrawal follows this and lasts up to 10 weeks. Afterward is extinction, and that can go on for an undefined amount of time following this. These and their symptoms are shown in the table below:

Crash Withdrawal Extinction
Withdrawal Symptoms
  • A sense of unease (dysphoria)
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Increased desire for sleep
  • Increased appetite
  • Reduced desire for cocaine
  • Increased desire for cocaine
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Intermittent cravings, mostly dependent on external stimuli

 

Get a free online consultation to learn how to manage these symptoms in you or your loved one >>>

What Is the Cocaine Cycle?

This is how one of the cocaine cycles looks like: 1-2 days of continuous use followed by the so-called crash, after which cravings, depression and return to cocaine take place. With time, the consequences get worse, medical, social, and financial problems arise, and paranoia, insomnia, and nervousness become permanent.

Finally, a man sees that the use of cocaine impedes normal life, but he still fails to quit cocaine continually returning to it.

What is Cocaine Addiction & Why Is Cocaine Addictive?

Some recreational drugs produce euphoria, and to do this, they find a way to get certain chemicals in the brain to be released in higher quantities. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, are different and do a variety of things in the brain. However, some of them, such as serotonin and dopamine, are responsible for the body feeling pleasure, having enough energy level during the day and also let us avoid feeling depressed. Most drugs increase the amount of these neurotransmitters exerting their action, and they are able to give a feeling of pleasure, which is what euphoria is.

A rolled up dollar bill is used by a cocaine addict to take in lines of cocaine.

Regardless of the route by which cocaine is administered, it eventually enters the bloodstream and gets to the brain. The most important aspect of cocaine’s function is that it causes the dopamine to build up. Normally, when the body realizes that the dopamine acting on receptors is too high, it allows some of it to be reabsorbed so there is less of it exerting action. Cocaine stops the excess dopamine from being pulled back. It is due to this dopamine buildup in a part of the brain known as the limbic system that causes the characteristic euphoria.

For cocaine, the person desires to experience the euphoria again and again, so they start to crave the drug, which can start to interfere with their daily activities. Their body also begins to react less to the drug a phenomenon known as tolerance, so they need to use more and more to get the same effect. This drive to continue consuming the drug can destroy them socially, financially, and psychologically. At this stage, once cravings are persistent and difficult to resist, and there is some effect on the normal life of the person, they can be said to be addicted. This desire for euphoria, in addition to the increase in the levels of a substance in the brain known as Protein FosB, leads to addiction.

The History of Cocaine

Unlike many illicit drugs, despite having medical uses, cocaine did not start off as a medical drug that was eventually abused. The recreational aspects of cocaine were known before it was later applied to medical scenarios.

Cocaine is derived from the coca leaf, and for more than a thousand years now, native people chewed the leaf for pleasure and energy. These stimulant effects made the coca plant valued amongst these communities.

It was only until the 1800s that the alkaloid, cocaine, was finally purified and isolated from the plant. From here, purified cocaine was utilized in medical scenarios to numb pain. While it persisted as a useful means of anesthesia in clinical settings, very soon after, cocaine became a recreational drug. Due to its highly addictive nature, it quickly became illegal. Regardless, the drug persisted up until now.

Even worse was the popularization of crack cocaine, the most addictive form of cocaine. It is a cheaper form of cocaine, so many people became addicted to it due to its accessibility. Crack cocaine tends to be smoked, and that method of using the drug presents with its specific health risks which will be described below.

Here are some facts about cocaine:

  • Famous doctor Sigmund Freud treated his friend who was a morphine addict using cocaine, but the treatment results were devastating. In the end, he became addicted, experienced a nervous breakdown, and killed himself.
  • Cocaine sold in Europe can also contain amphetamine, ephedrine, strychnine, lidocaine, and mephedrone. Sometimes it has powder from mercury fluorescent lamps.
  • Sometimes, drug dealers advise substituting marijuana, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other sedatives for cocaine. Apparently, this will reduce anxiety and improve sleep, and the “best” choice to substitute cocaine is heroin. Unfortunately, some dealers offer it “on discount.” This is one of the ways how people become addicted to heroin.

What Are the Consequences of Cocaine Use?

Cocaine is used mainly for the sole effect of euphoria. However, when it is used, there are other effects that arise as a result of its action on the brain. Some of these effects are short-term, while others are long-term.

Constant use of cocaine results in very unpleasant conditions, e.g., nervousness, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, paranoia, lunatic ideas of being stalked, hallucinations, and hearing impairment. There are serious medical complications, most commonly cardiac problems (arrhythmias and myocardial infarction), respiratory problems (chest pain, respiratory failure), neurological problems (stroke, headache) and stomach problems (stomach pain, nausea). In addition to these problems, behavioral disorders, increased urges for movement and talking, inability to sit, increased sensitivity to noise, state of confusion, and rapid mental fatigue and impotence occur.

Frequent use of cocaine leads to heart diseases. It primarily causes a change in heart rhythm, rapid breathing, high blood pressure, and high body temperature. There are physical symptoms such as chest pain, nausea, blurred vision, fever, cramps, and coma. Addicts have the habit of combining cocaine with other psychoactive substances to reduce its stimulating effect, most commonly with alcohol.

Both substances change the state of consciousness and the ability to reason and influence the reaction time, and therefore, one should not drive in such a condition, as this can be extremely dangerous. Studies show that the combination of cocaine and alcohol leads to the formation of cocaethylene and its effects are longer and more toxic than that of each of these psychoactive substances separately. It is important to know that a mixture of cocaine and alcohol can result in death.

A recovering cocaine addict says no to a dealer who wants to take advantage of his cocaine cravings.

The combination of cocaine and heroin is called speedball, and the role of heroin is to reduce unpleasant symptoms that result from cocaine use. Speedball is very dangerous as it can lead to cardiac or respiratory arrest.

There are different ways to use cocaine, and all have negative consequences. Snorting leads to losing the sense of smell, nose bleeding, difficulty swallowing, sore throat, irritation of the nasal mucous membrane, and all this can cause chronic inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane.

If cocaine is taken orally, intestinal gangrene may occur accompanied by reduced blood flow.

Allergies to cocaine, as well as to various mixtures found in it, can also develop. Sometimes this can lead to death. Also, cocaine reduces appetite resulting in weight loss.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

The short-term effects of cocaine show up almost as soon as the drug is used. They last for a few minutes in most cases but can last up to an hour. Some of these effects can be psychological or mental, while others are the physiological or physical changes to the body.  The short-term effects of cocaine are outlined in the table below:

Psychological Physical
  • Euphoria
  • Feeling of increased energy
  • A sense of alertness
  • Increased sensitivity to stimuli, such as sound, touch, and sight
  • Reduced appetite
  • Reduced desire for sleep
  • Talkativeness
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Increased blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Dilated pupils

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

When an addict continually uses cocaine over a long period of time, there are some changes to the brain and other effects that develop as a result of the drug abuse.

The effects that cocaine has on the brain can be rather significant. Receptors for a neurotransmitter called glutamate, and the amount of it released, undergo significant changes in people who have been using cocaine for a long time. These changes are thought to be related to the addictive properties of the drug.

There are also thought to be changes to the part of the brain responsible for decision-making. This can explain their poor insight and difficulty adapting to the negative social effects that the drug may have in their lives.

The brain also undergoes changes in how it deals with stress. These pathways become more sensitive, which makes the patient irritable and produces foul moods when the drug has not been taken.

Tolerance, the need for higher doses or more frequent use of cocaine to achieve the same level of pleasure previously experienced, is another consequence of long-term abuse. 

Contact our medical team to learn how to get help for cocaine addiction >>>

What Are the Adverse Effects of Cocaine Use?

Unlike the regular effects of cocaine use, its adverse effects will not occur in everyone who uses the drug. However, some of them can be very dangerous to the addict’s health. Certain adverse effects are specific to the route by which the addict uses the drug. For example, difficulty breathing in patients who smoke crack cocaine. The adverse effects of cocaine use can be acute or chronic.

Acute adverse effects of cocaine use include the following:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoid delusions
  • Sensation of insects crawling on the skin (formication)
  • Abnormally increased body temperature (hyperthermia)
  • Significantly increased blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest

Chronic adverse effects of cocaine use include the following, based on the body system affected:

1. Respiratory (particularly for patients who smoke cocaine):

  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Chest pain
  • Coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
  • Constriction of the windpipe (bronchospasm)
  • Voice hoarseness
  • Nasal septal deviation and degeneration

2. Cardiovascular:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Increased chance for blood clots forming in the blood (thrombosis)
  • Heart attack

3. Digestive:

  • Involuntary teeth grinding (bruxism), which can degrade enamel and cause tooth decay and gingivitis
  • Dry mouth (xerostomia)
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain

4. Nervous:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Seizures
  • Strokes

5. Immune:

  • Cocaine can increase the risk of several autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, glomerulonephritis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and more.

Treatment of Cocaine Addiction

Biochemical compensation is the backbone of treatment, and during this phase, biochemical and neurochemical deficits and imbalances in the body and brain resulting from cocaine use are repaired. Psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy are also an essential part of the treatment as well as s special diet that is introduced after comprehensive laboratory tests.

During the treatment period, we encourage family members to join the program and support the addict.

When addiction strikes a family, it always disturbs the relationships in it and leads to changes in functioning, so for this reason, we encourage the family to engage in treatment as its success largely depends on family support.

Phases in the Treatment of Cocaine Addiction

  1. Diagnostics – the initial and significant phase of treatment during which the physical and psychological state of the patient is assessed. The standard diagnostic examination for physical condition assessment includes urine test, tests for hepatitis B and C, HIV infection, general blood analysis, biochemical blood testing, ECG, and an internist examination. The standard diagnostic examination for assessing the psychological condition involves psychodiagnostics (psychological tests are used to determine the level of addiction, the consequences of the use of substances on mental health, to detect the signs of psychological disorders, the presence of depression, the degree of motivation for healing). Having made the diagnosis, the team of doctors examines the findings and develops treatment strategy and plan. If there are risk factors or some chronic illness, additional tests are carried out, and therapy is prescribed.
  2. The beginning of treatment refers to the treatment by infusion and Neuro-Jet device. The infusion consists of multivitamins, minerals, and amino acid complexes, all of which stimulate metabolism, improve appetite, and slowly reinstill strength in the addict needed to continue treatment. Treatments in our hospital are intense and highly effective. Neuro-Jet device enables the emission of electric waves that are completely painless and regulate the production of endorphin and dopamine, and eliminate symptoms of crisis.
  3. Treatment of psychological addiction – Using aversive procedures, pharmacohypnosis, Prometa, psychotherapy, Ibogaine according to the doctor’s assessment.
  4. Psychotherapy – These methods are used to treat psychological addiction and help the patient build a defense mechanism against cocaine and the desire to consume it. It is mostly done individually and, if necessary, in a group.
  5. Aversive therapy helps to create a physical aversion to the drug.
  6. Physiotherapy, which gives excellent results, is available for patients during the entire treatment. It is necessary to restore the body to be able to go through many procedures that are necessary for the recovery process. Physiotherapy helps to relieve stress and accelerates treatment effects.
  7. After all the treatments, the patient’s condition and the progress made during the treatment is assessed, and the condition before and after staying in the hospital is analyzed.
  8. Outpatient treatment involves monthly follow-ups that are included in the treatment program for one year, and in that period, doctors analyze the patient’s condition and, if necessary, adjust the therapy. Patients can ask all that they are interested in and share their opinion with the doctor. If patients are out of the country and cannot come to regular follow-ups, there is a possibility to be reached out via video call, by phone or mail.

Conclusion

Cocaine addiction is not uncomfortable due to physical, but psychological symptoms. These can make the patient very uncomfortable, or dangerous to be around at times due to their irritability and changes in behavior when undergoing withdrawal.

Cocaine addiction can be difficult to deal with on your own, so finding a cocaine addiction treatment program to get a helping hand is essential. With the right clinicians, the right steps can be taken to help you get rid of your dependency and get your life back on the right track.

Contact us to learn about the treatment program that would help you or your loved one overcome cocaine addiction >>>

Frequently Asked Questions About Cocaine Addiction

What Is the Difference between Crack Cocaine and Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a solid or crystallized form of cocaine. It is smoked, as opposed to being snorted.

What Are the Ways that Cocaine Can be Abused?

Cocaine can be snorted as a powder, rubbed into the gums of the mouth, dissolved and injected, or smoked as crack cocaine.

Is It Possible to Overdose on Cocaine?

Yes, it is. A cocaine overdose can lead to death. If you see any of the following signs of a cocaine overdose, immediate emergency assistance is required:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty breathing

How Would I Get To the Clinic and Are the Facilities Provided?

In case of a need, we offer transfer of patients between the airport or the station and the hospital. We help foreign patients receive a visa if they need it, and if they have an accompanying person, they can also stay in the hospital with all the facilities provided. 

The professional staff is available to patients 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Our doctors are certified anesthesiologists, psychiatrists, and psychologists with 10 to 25 years of experience. Your safety and security is our priority, the facility is under video surveillance and the security guard.

Published on November 17, 2020
by Dr Vorobjev Clinic team

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