Of the substances frequently abused by drug users, cocaine is perhaps one of the most common and lethal. This highly addictive drug is snorted, smoked, or injected, and it can cause a myriad of problems psychologically and physically for the user. In 2007 alone, cocaine was responsible for 13 percent of drug treatment admissions, according to data presented by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
What Happens When You Take Cocaine?
Depending on the method of use, the effects of cocaine can range greatly, but they are generally very short-term. Smoking or injecting the drug tends to produce a quicker effect, while smoking it takes a little longer. Generally though, the high lasts at most 30 minutes. Users frequently report a sense of euphoria followed by talkativeness or restlessness – a feeling of speeding, if you will. The crash that inevitably follows cocaine use can cause a person to feel extremely restless, depressed, sleepy, or agitated. To quell this, many users continue to use more amounts with increasing frequency, which can lead to tolerance and addiction.
Cocaine inhibits the reuptake of dopamine into the brain, essentially messing with the brain’s central nervous system (CNS). Long-term use can cause definitive changes, particularly in the brain’s pleasure and reward areas.
Why Is Detox Important and How Long Does It Take?
Getting proper treatment for cocaine addiction or abuse is crucial to recovery. It’s thought that cocaine withdrawal and use are not necessarily physical problems, because users rarely report many physical side effects of withdrawal. The long-term effects of drug use on the brain make it both a psychological disease as well.
- Detoxification is often helpful for cocaine users because it allows a person a safe atmosphere in which to eliminate drug use for a time. Detox generally lasts only a few days but, because of the mental health issues associated with cocaine use, long-term inpatient or outpatient treatment is recommended. Detox helps to promote safe withdrawal from the drug and treat the physiological effects that occur from quitting.
- It’s additionally important because it helps doctors and physicians to better assess a person’s psychological state. Cocaine addiction isn’t just considered a physical problem with physical consequences. It can be considered a psychological or mental health problem that requires long-term treatment. In fact, about 50 percent of cocaine addicts are thought to have mental health disorders, in particular attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression based on findings by the National Institutes of Health.
- Through detox, a person can regain a clearer sense of thinking about himself or herself and drug use. Because drugs can inhibit judgment, providing a safe environment sans drug use can allow an individual to think about how cocaine has affected his or her life or the lives of loved ones. A person initially resistant may be more open to treatment after this period.
- While no medications are 100 percent FDA-approved for the treatment of cocaine addiction, there are many prescription drugs available that can be used to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Doctor-prescribed medications for anti-anxiety can be helpful on a short-term basis but these benzodiazepines (Valium, for example) can also carry with them an increased risk of dependence.
Many users try to combat withdrawal symptoms with other substances like sedatives, alcohol, or anti-anxiety medications which can exacerbate the symptoms or cause physical or psychological complications. Seeking treatment is absolutely essential in getting free of cocaine addiction. If you suspect you or someone you know is addicted to cocaine and may benefit from detoxification, call Alta Mira to learn more about how we treat cocaine addiction and its withdrawal symptoms.