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Cocaine Addiction Symptoms and Treatment

Long before anyone knew any better, people loved the effects of chewing on the leaves of the coca plant. It gave them energy. It helped them breeze through their work. They felt great. And pretty soon, they weren’t able to do anything unless and until they had a constant supply of these stimulant leaves. Its addictive impact and negative side effects became widely known.

Today, the cocaine people buy on the streets only contains a small percentage of the actual drug. It’s been “stepped on”, mixed with harmful bulking agents to help drug dealers turn a huge profit while keeping masses of people addicted to the substance. 

If you find yourself regularly turning to the streets in search of your next dose of cocaine, you might have a serious addiction. Seeking treatment is the crucial first step in freeing yourself from an expensive and unhealthy dependence on this damaging substance.

What Exactly is Cocaine and How Does It Work?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug. It changes the neuro pathways of the brain, speeding up your speech and thoughts. In the process, it induces a state of euphoria. You feel profoundly energized and the whole world feels like it’s moving much faster. 

This is because cocaine causes the brain to release excessive amounts of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These are all natural feel good chemicals. This mechanism is largely responsible for the addictive quality of cocaine.

Cocaine blocks your body from utilizing them properly. Rather than being taken up into the proper pathways and utilized accordingly, cocaine blocks these neurotransmitters. This creates a stew of chemicals sitting in your brain space, creating a wave of euphoria that your body doesn’t know how to manage. 

All of these chemicals are thrown out of their proper balance, and the body cannot regenerate or properly utilize them quickly enough. This can lead to a dependence on cocaine and a series of extremely troubling and highly dangerous side effects.

The Side Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine creates serious disruptions in the way your brain creates and uses its own natural chemicals. These chemicals have a purpose in regulating your body and your mood. When cocaine stops them from doing their job and redirects them to stimulate forced euphoria, both your mind and your body go awry.

The heightened sensitivity brought about by cocaine does not always induce euphoria as expected. Occasionally, the rush of chemicals can cause severe paranoia and panic attacks. 

This sudden flush of anxious emotions sometimes make people under the influence of cocaine feel as though they’re having a heart attack.

When cocaine heavily impacts your neurotransmitters, the release of all these chemicals is typical of a high-adrenaline situation. Your body might respond to that stimulation by believing a threat is present, even though there is no actual threat. This can create a state of hypervigilance that often leaves cocaine users feeling combative. Irritability, aggression, hostile behavior, or strange and repetitive behavior (like clicking, tapping, bouncing, or nodding) are par for the course.

The effects of this chemical dump aren’t purely mental. Your body responds with the same eagerness to the stimulation by speeding up its heart rate. This can and has led to conditions like heart arrhythmia, chest pains, throbbing headaches, and heart attack in cocaine users. 

The imbalance of chemicals in the brain can lead to seizure or stroke, both of which can prove to be fatal. 

Cocaine also takes a toll on the digestive system. Nausea is a common side effect, but it isn’t the most troubling. Heavy cocaine users have experienced gangrenous bowels, a serious condition that requires immediate medical intervention. Cocaine also impacts the airways, potentially exacerbating or causing respiratory illness.

Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

Many people believe they can occasionally dabble with cocaine when they attend a concert or a rowdy social event. They think of it as a mood enhancer that gives them the energy to have fun for longer. This is almost always how addiction starts. 

When the cocaine leaves the body, it’s done damage to the chemical balance of the brain. It’s typical for cocaine users to feel like they’re depressed when the drug has worn off, as the chemicals responsible for maintaining a healthy mood have been rapidly wasted and require some time to rebalance themselves. People then turn to more cocaine to rapidly stimulate their production, creating a cycle of dependency.

The best way to determine whether or not you are addicted to cocaine is to attempt to stop using it. If you cannot get through an entire week without being preoccupied with thoughts of cocaine or giving in and using cocaine, you’ve become dependent on the drug.

What Happens When You Stop Using Cocaine?

Although cocaine is a very dangerous drug, its withdrawal effects are relatively minor. It will not produce the same dangerous side effects that opioid or alcohol withdrawal tend to produce. 

Cocaine withdrawal is not lethal.

Most people describe withdrawing from cocaine as a “crash.” Energy levels significantly deplete. They often feel irritable, anxious, and tired. Cocaine’s appetite suppressant effects wear off, leaving them very hungry. They have trouble concentrating and they want to sleep most of the time.

Many people find that the most difficult part of cocaine withdrawal is simply resisting the urge to acquire more. People feel fed up with the persistent lethargy and lack of energy they experience while their body is attempting to recalibrate, and they decide to go back to the drug for a quick fix.

Detoxifying Your Body from Cocaine Safely

It isn’t dangerous to stop using cocaine on your own. Quitting the drug cold turkey will not jeopardize your health. You won’t require constant medical monitoring. Your appetite will come back, your heart will beat normally, and your body will want to catch up on all the sleep it’s lost. Withdrawal from cocaine is neither risky nor scary.

The problem comes in resisting the temptation to use more. Many people fail to detoxify their bodies and overcome their addictions at home because they want to get up off the couch. They’re often very sleepy while they recover, and they feel as though they’re missing out. They go out and get more cocaine to shake the lethargy. The cycle starts all over again.

Your body’s energy levels will return to normal. It simply takes time. In that time, fighting the emotional urge to use is the most complicated hurdle. 

Many people find that recovering in an inpatient setting removes the temptation to use and encourages them to focus on identifying the reasons why they use cocaine. 

Rehabilitating From Cocaine Use

Rehabilitation from cocaine use entails a therapeutic approach. Since cocaine does not foster a serious physical dependency, most of the reasons people abuse the drug are emotional or psychological. 

Some people use cocaine as a crutch in social situations. Others abuse the drug in an attempt to lose weight in an unhealthy manner or to avoid sleep when they’re busy. Some causes will be easy to identify and replace with healthier strategies for achieving goals without harming the body.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has become a popular tool in treating the psychological aspects of addiction. When people with drug use disorders are encouraged to observe their own pathology, they’re able to understand the reasons why they make dangerous decisions. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy gives people living with addiction better coping mechanisms and stronger decision making skills. When you thoroughly grasp the hold cocaine has on your life, it’s much easier to recognize why your use of the drug is problematic. 

The Takeaway

Cocaine addiction is expensive, dangerous, and difficult to break. If you’re struggling with a substance abuse disorder, consider getting help from an accredited rehabilitation facility. Changing your habits and prioritizing your health will improve the quality of your life and prevent health complications, legal trouble, and financial ruin. 

Choose a comfortable rehabilitation facility that will provide you with all of the support you need to overcome your cocaine addiction. Facilities that prioritize your health, wellness, and aftercare will set you on a successful road to recovery. While rehabilitation prepares you to face the world without addiction, it is ultimately up to you to make the right choices. You need to remain remitted to your own recovery, and Indah Recovery can help with just that. 

Remember that you are worth a happy, healthy, and productive life. It may be difficult to reject temptation, but you’re worth more than the harm that drugs can do to your body. Remain steadfast in your decision to overcome and live the life that you deserve.

Sources:

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/risk-of-death

https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine#1

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-fight-or-flight-response-2795194

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360478/