Definition of Cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that acts as an appetite suppressant and topical anesthetic. It is known as a triple reuptake inhibitor (TRI), increasing levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Cocaine is highly addictive because of its effects on the mesolimbic reward pathway. The production, sale and use of cocaine is illegal in nearly every country world wide. Those using cocaine illegally do so for its ability to increase alertness, energy, euphoria, feeling of well being and sexuality. Cocaine is often snorted or smoked but can also be taken transmucosally or injected.

Cocaine affects nearly every organ in the body, causing damage that can be irreversible. Many who smoke cocaine will suffer lung damage as well as other effects associated with other routs of ingesting the drug such as damage to the brain, kidneys, liver, heart and gastrointestinal tract.

Adverse Effects of Cocaine Use

  • Anxiety
  • paranoia
  • restlessness
  • itching
  • tachycardia
  • hallucinations
  • paranoid delusions
  • bronchospasm
  • pruritus
  • fever
  • chest pain
  • lung trauma
  • sore throat
  • asthma
  • hoarse voice
  • shortness of breath
  • flu-like syndrome

Cocaine Use

In the past cocaine was used as an anesthetic, it was even mixed into the popular beverage coca cola which made it so addictive. Today cocaine is illegal in all forms, however that has not stopped people from using it for recreational purposes. In fact about 14% of US adults have tried cocaine.

When cocaine is smoked or injected it has nearly instantaneous effects and when snorted or taken transmucosally the effects are fast-acing. When cocaine is taken it immediately enters into the bloodstream and continues onto the brain, creating its highly addictive effects. A cocaine high creates feelings of increasing sense of energy and alertness, an extremely elevated mood, a feeling of supremacy and euphoric effects.

Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance because of the way it effects the mesolimbic reward pathway. First use of cocaine results in a tolerance to the drug. In order to achieve the same high the user will need to increase their dose each time. This puts them at great risk of overdose and damage to vital organ, even death. Regular use of cocaine can quickly result in a physical and psychological dependency to the drug. When the user attempts to stop its use they will be overwhelmed by cravings and withdrawal syndromes. Cocaine addiction is a life long addiction, addicts have experienced cravings years into their recovery and relapsed.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

  • ¬†Inability to experience pleasure without the use of cocaine
  • Thoughts and actions are consumed by cocaine use
  • Legal trouble as a result of cocaine use
  • Difficulties at work or school due to cocaine
  • Trouble in personal relationship
  • Health effects due to cocaine use

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine addiction is powerful on both the mind and body. The brain becomes dependent on cocaine to experience pleasure, when there is no cocaine the body reacts in painful withdrawal symptoms and cravings that overwhelm the addict. Physical and psychological signs of cocaine with drawl include:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • cravings for cocaine
  • aches and pains
  • tremors
  • chills

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine addiction is very psychological. The mind becomes so dependent on the drug to experience pleasure that it can not without it and craves more. Yes there are physical aspects to the addiction that must be address through detoxification to cleanse the body it is very important to focus on behavioral therapies. The mind needs to learn how to function without cocaine, the user needs to relearn behaviors to prevent cocaine relapse.

Contingency management, or motivational incentives (MI) is a proven successful form of behavioral therapy in the initial stage of treatment of cocaine addiction. This form of therapy rewards the patient for remaining absent from cocaine use. The patient will receive vouchers for things such as gym memberships, movie tickets and gift certificates for having clean urine tests.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in preventing relapse in most patients. CBT focuses on rerouting behaviors amongst individuals with cocaine addiction. The behaviors they have developed during their addiction will lead to relapse, this is why it is important to go through CBT to overcome and change these behaviors to healthy ones.