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Cocaine Addiction Treatment

What is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addiction is one of the most dangerous types of addictions. It is caused by the continuous use of the drug and known to harm the user in several ways.

This substance is a very popular drug in the U. S., especially among young people. Fortunately, the number of users is declining recently. This does not mean that there not people suffering from the problem anymore, though.

Around 1.3 million people go to emergency departments per year in activities related to cocaine abuse or misuse.

What is cocaine, then? It is a very powerful and addictive drug which is often found as a white powder. The substance comes from a leafy plant named coca, which is generally native of South America. It is used as a stimulant and drives the dopamine of the body up.

This drug is often snorted, but there are people who choose to inject it in order to get a quicker effect. As cocaine is illegal, it is not uncommon to find harmful additives in the drug. Cocaine can also be found in a rock crystal shape known as crack cocaine.

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What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?

There are several symptoms which are often associated with cocaine addiction. Some of them are almost instant. Other effects, however, can appear during the prolonged use of the drug and are more characteristic of the addiction.

In case you are trying to discover whether a loved one is currently a victim of cocaine addiction, the long-term symptoms should be watched closely. As they only appear with continuous use, they are a good sign of cocaine addiction.

Short-Term Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

Extreme energy: As soon as the person uses cocaine, they will experience a sudden rush of energy. This is accompanied by mental alertness, meaning that many people will use it to stay awake or motivated, including at work or school.

Rush of Happiness: due to the dopamine, most people will feel extremely happy as soon as they used the drug. This is a very short-lived effect, though, so sadness may follow it as soon as the effect stops.

Paranoia: during the so-called “bad trip”, users are extremely suspicious of others and may believe that someone is out to harm them. This may lead to aggressive behavior in some cases.

View from behind of female psychotherapist on session
A colorful sunset over the marsh, in Wilmington, NC, USA.

Long-Term Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

Loss of weight: one of the most common symptoms of drug abuse. Cocaine diminishes the appetite of the user, leading to weight loss long term.

Severe paranoia and hallucinations: while occasional use can also cause paranoia, continuous use proves to be an even stronger catalyst for it. The more someone uses, the more likely the person is to become extremely paranoid, or hallucinate.

Lower immunity: when a drug is abused, the body takes the toll. The immune cell function will go down and diseases such as the one caused by the HIV virus and hepatitis C, for instance, are bound to become stronger, which can cause the risk of death.

What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?

As soon as someone gets addicted to cocaine, daily doses will be needed in order to avoid withdrawal. The list of withdrawal symptoms is pretty extensive. Most last about 7-10 days.

Slowed Physical and Mental Activity

If using cocaine accelerates everything, withdrawal slows it down. Experiencing difficulties while trying to concentrate is also common.


The person will also feel tired all the time. Exhaustion is a common symptom and the person will feel that being without the drug drains their strength.

Inability to Feel Pleasure

The body will have a hard time dealing with dopamine during withdrawal. Not having dopamine kills any sensation of happiness or arousal.

Restlessness, Tremors, Chills

Anxiety and restlessness accompanied by tremors are very common. Cold sweats are also experienced by many users in withdrawal.


Nerve pain and muscle ache are common side-effects of not taking the drug. Their intensity varies a lot from person to person.

What Are the Dangers of Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addiction makes the user constantly ingest several harmful substances. This does not come without grave side effects. Long-term users of cocaine are often the victim of several diseases which can affect organs and their mental health.

Organs such as the heart and brain are especially affected. Brain hemorrhage is not uncommon and continued use can cause a stroke. Some of the damages on these organs can lead to lasting issues or even death in the worst cases.

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Strong depression and suicidal thoughts are also a relevant danger. Many users have the risk of attempting suicide, especially during the gravest crisis. The paranoia and hallucinations caused by the drug can also be triggers for a crisis.

There is a strong consensus that overdose is the biggest risk of using cocaine. Unfortunately, it may happen anytime that the drug is used, as the main factor for it is the dosage.

Due to this, the risk of abusing on the quantity used increases over time, as the body starts to develop more resistance against the substance and bigger amounts are needed for reaching the same effect.

If someone takes a toxic amount of cocaine at once, the body will “shut down” because of the toxicity. This often leads to convulsions, heart attacks, strokes, and seizures. Obviously, all of these can lead to death if the person is not properly treated.

In case someone is overdosing, the right course of action is to call an ambulance or take the person to a hospital. Only with specific medicine, the overdose can be treated. It is also important to have a medic in order to determine what are the secondary effects of the overdose, such as a heart attack, in order to treat them as quickly as possible.

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Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Partial Hospitalization Treatment

During partial hospitalization treatment, the individual receives continuous care. This involves supervision from a medical staff and daily therapeutic groups. For long-term users, this can be one of the best options. They’ll participate in one-on-one and group therapy led by experienced counselors. During treatment, the individual will learn important skills for coping with life without cocaine. These programs typically last either 30, 60, or 90 days.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

This type of treatment involves a patient completing care while living either in a sober living or at their own home. Instead of residing in a center, they’ll attend treatment and groups for several hours each day, meeting with a drug counselor and participate in group therapy sessions. Intensive Outpatient care is a good option for people who need low levels of accountability, or have already completed a higher level of treatment.

Sober Living

Regardless of whether a person completes PHP or IOP levels of treatment, it is still important that they continue their recovery outside of a treatment center. Sober Living is a great way to continue to receive accountability over time, while building up their lives. Sober living houses do not usually provide any therapy, but they do provide drug testing, as well as ensure that residents are attending recovery groups such as AA outside of the house.