Cocaine Addiction: Signs, Effects, and Treatment

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Addiction to cocaine, or any drug, can be an unending struggle for individuals who do not access the care they need to recover. Using cocaine can endanger physical and mental well-being and is linked with violence and other forms of crime. 

What Is Cocaine? 

Cocaine is an illicit, short-acting, central nervous system stimulant drug created from a paste that is extracted from the leaves of the coca bush found in South America. 

The ‘street drug’ is a mixture of this pure substance and other ingredients such as talcum powder, flour, laxatives, sugar and anaesthetics. These cutting agents are added to increase a dealer’s supply.

The drug can be injected, smoked, sniffed, or snorted and mixed with other drugs including the anaesthetic procaine and amphetamine.

Cocaine Addiction

Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?

Cocaine – also known as blow, bump, blanca, coke, dust, flake, icing, line, pearl, snow, sneeze, sleigh ride, speedball, toot and white rock to name just a few – increases the release of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, as well as exciting the central nervous system, causing a sense of euphoria. 

The wanted effects of cocaine are typically intense but short-lived which often result in you needing to take increasing amounts of the drug to experience the same high. If used regularly, the brain can become reliant on the drug for the release of these chemicals which are needed to control mood. As such, one-time use of cocaine can quickly turn into a pattern of misuse and addiction

What Are the Effects of Cocaine Use?

The use of cocaine can induce a sense of excitement, confidence, and happiness. These wanted effects can be experienced alongside a faster heart rate, raised body temperature, feeling sick and/or wanting to go to the bathroom more often. The effects begin between 5 and thirty minutes after use and last between 30 and 40 minutes. 

Spotting the Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction vary from person to person depending on biology, medical history, and if cocaine is being used with other substances. The use of cocaine can cause cocaine-induced craving which may lead to the continued use of cocaine despite negative consequences. 

The misuse of cocaine can lead to several behavioural, physical, and psychological symptoms.

Personalised Treatment

We thoroughly assess each patient in order to build a comprehensive, personalised treatment plan.

Behavioural Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

  • Taking more and more of the drug to feel the wanted effects
  • Feeling agitated, restless, and depressed when the use of cocaine stope
  • Controlling how much cocaine is used
  • Becoming preoccupied with acquiring cocaine
  • Borrowing or stealing money to purchase cocaine
  • Being dishonest about the use of cocaine – frequency and amount
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviours
  • Violence

Physical Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

  • High blood pressure
  • Persistent nosebleeds
  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced need for sleep or insomnia
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Psychological Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

  • Psychosis
  • Depression, mood swings, and irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • suicidal and homicidal thinking

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Repeated use of cocaine causes the brain to become increasingly sensitive, leading to displeasure and negative moods when not taking the drug. Tolerance may develop which means higher doses and more frequent use are needed to produce the same level of pleasure and relief from withdrawal. 

However, the increased amount of cocaine can exacerbate the unwanted effects of the drug such as irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia, and psychosis.

The longer-term physical consequences of cocaine use, depending on how it is taken, include loss of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, lung damage, and catching infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Other general physical consequences of cocaine use are ulcerations in the digestive tract, appetite loss, malnourishment, chest pain, heart attack, and increased risk of stroke.

Cognitive functions are also impaired with long-term cocaine use such as impulse control, memory, decision-making ability, and poor concentration.

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Understanding Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal is experienced by someone who has become dependent on cocaine and who cuts down or stops taking the drug abruptly. Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal may include agitation, depressed mood, tiredness, physical discomfort, appetite changes, and suicidal thoughts. During withdrawal, someone might experience overwhelming cravings for cocaine. 

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is a complex illness involving changes in the brain and a wide range of social, familial, and other environmental factors. Addiction treatment programmes for cocaine addiction address all contributing factors as well as any co-occurring disorders to prevent relapse and support long-term clean time. 

Detox 

If you are seeking help for cocaine addiction, a medical professional may suggest that you need go through a medically assisted detoxification process. A detox helps to keep you safe and reduces the risk of relapse while your body rids itself with cocaine. A detox also ensures you are in an optimal physical state to begin cocaine addiction therapy

At Smarmore Castle, our medically managed detoxification with 24/7 medical support means that we can perform complete and complex detoxes at Smarmore Castle and you do not need to be clean before arrival.

The detox period is tailored to your needs based on your history of drug use and current physical and psychological condition. The length of the detox will vary depending on your pattern of use and whether you were taking any other drugs at the same time, and you may receive additional medication to diminish the symptoms of withdrawal.

Inpatient Treatment

Detox is the beginning of the recovery journey and being clean is required before therapy can commence. Studies show that residential rehab is the most effective form of treatment for those abusing alcohol or drugs. Research conducted by our partner establishment Castle Craig demonstrates that the majority of patients completing our treatment programme report abstinence or reduced drug and alcohol use in the years following treatment.

The addiction treatment programme at Smarmore Castle starts at four weeks and is flexible in length, allowing you to extend for a longer period if you need it. All patients are reviewed by a consultant psychiatrist in the first week and we can diagnose and provide treatment for several co-occurring mental health conditions. 

Our addiction treatment programme is adapted to your needs and may include personal therapy, group therapy, family therapy, bereavement therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT has proven to be particularly effective for treating individuals with cocaine abuse problems. This therapy helps to restructure thought patterns and attitudes towards oneself and drug use.

It may be recommended that your core therapy programme is supplemented with complementary therapies such as equine therapy, drumming therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, mindfulness meditation, and aquatherapy.

Contact Us for Help With Cocaine Addiction

If you or someone you know are suffering from cocaine addiction, contact us for help. Our support team is available to answer any queries you have regarding our cocaine addiction treatment programme.

  • How to Access Rehab With Health Insurance

    For those experiencing existing mental health conditions in Ireland, there are private medical insurers who can help you cover treatment. As addiction experts, we know that receiving the appropriate care and support when you have a mental health disorder is pivotal to attaining long-lasting recovery. Below, we will go through the various health insurance options to help you understand your options when it comes to seeking private residential care for substance abuse. Please note that there is no guarantee that you can be covered for all addiction problems as policies are always assessed on a case-by-case basis. Find Out More

  • My Loved One Doesn’t Want Help, What Do I Do?

    You can’t force someone to go to rehab. A person must be ready to commit to treatment if they want to get the most out of the programme. However, there are ways in which you can encourage someone to enter rehab, one of these ways is via an intervention with a trained interventionist, who facilitates an honest discussion between family members and the individual. This is something Smarmore Castle can arrange – contact us today.

  • Which Drugs Does Smarmore Castle Detox From?

    We offer detox from any drug, whether they are illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ketamine; or prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines or zopiclone, oxycodone, zolpidem, klonopin, methadone, cannabis; and legal drugs such as alcohol.

  • How Long Is the Treatment Programme?

    Our treatment programme starts at 4 weeks and is flexible in length, giving you the opportunity to extend for a longer period if you need it.

  • Do You Treat Dual Diagnosis?

    Yes. All patients are reviewed by a consultant psychiatrist in the first week and we can diagnose and provide treatment for a number of co-occurring mental health conditions.

  • Do I Need to Be Abstinent Before Admission?

    Our medically managed detoxification with 24/7 medical cover means that we can perform complete and complex detoxes at Smarmore Castle. You don’t need to be abstinent before arrival.

  • How Do I Get To Rehab Safely?

    Smarmore Castle is one hour north of Dublin international airport, please speak to our advisors if you require collection from an airport.

    We can also arrange a ‘sober transport’ service with a trusted driver, from anywhere in Ireland or Northern Ireland, at an additional cost.

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