Cocaine is one of the most popular drugs in the world. It is highly addictive, destructive, expensive, and available in cities and towns everywhere. According to the NJDC, New Jersey is in the top 10 states for the prevalence of cocaine use.
Despite how tough a habit it can seem to break, cocaine addiction does not have to be a life sentence. At the Excel, we understand addiction and know what it takes to recover. Addiction is a health condition – not something to be ashamed of.
We are experts in helping people discover the reasons behind their drug use. We deliver personalized treatment programs to match each of our clients’ needs.
In its powder form, cocaine is usually ‘snorted’. It can also be smoked, injected or rubbed on the gums. It quickly enters the bloodstream and causes dopamine to build up in the brain. This is our feel-good chemical, and users typically feel euphoric, confident, and talkative.
Some of the other short-term effects of cocaine use are:
- Dilated pupils
However, these effects only last for 30 minutes to an hour, after which the user experiences a ‘crash’. This is caused by the brain’s dopamine supply being depleted, and users experience a low mood and a craving for more cocaine.
Cocaine addiction occurs when someone habitually uses cocaine, despite the negative consequences. Long-term cocaine use can change the physical structure of the brain.
Some of these changes include:
- Grey matter, which lowers cognitive abilities
- Depleted dopamine levels, which makes users feel ‘low’ when they are not using
This makes users crave cocaine, and these urges can seem irresistible. Long-term cocaine addiction has also been found to affect the parts of the brain responsible for decision making. This means that without help, people may find themselves continuing to use, even though they want to stop.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
Many people hold down jobs, have families, and participate in society at the same time as using cocaine. Indeed, cocaine is even socially acceptable in some circles. However, this does not mean that they are not addicts.
Some of the signs of cocaine addiction are:
- Using cocaine despite negative consequences
- Using cocaine at work, while looking after children, or other inappropriate places
- Lying about cocaine use
- Borrowing money for cocaine
- Cocaine use affecting friendships and romantic relationships
- Sudden bursts of confidence
- Possessing cut-up straws or rolled up banknotes
- Engaging in risky behaviors
The Dangers of Cocaine Addiction
Despite its popularity, cocaine is far from safe.
Users can experience many different adverse effects, such as:
- Damage to their nose and sinuses
- Increased risk of heart attack
- Loss of appetite
- Liver damage
- Hepatitis C from sharing banknotes or needles
Cocaine use is illegal, and simply possessing it is enough to go to jail. There is an additional risk when users are buying the drug – dealers are known to carry weapons, and the areas in which drugs are sold are usually dangerous.
Generally, cocaine addiction will progress over time. The sooner that someone receives help, the easier they will find recovery. However, it is possible for anyone to stop, given the right support and assistance.
The first step towards recovery starts with a detox. We are partnered with a fantastic detox center that carries out an expert diagnosis, followed by a unique detox program tailored to our client’s exact needs.
In a clinical detox setting, users are removed from their previous environment and will be taken care of, which reduces the risk of relapse.
A cocaine detox can be challenging; people can experience both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. However, with the correct support, it is possible to minimize these symptoms. This gives our clients the best possible chance for recovery.
Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal
With prolonged cocaine use, the body adapts to its presence in the bloodstream and becomes used to its effects. This means that when people stop using, it is a ‘shock’ to the system.
As the effects of cocaine are so short-lived, withdrawal sets in rapidly. As previously mentioned, users experience a low feeling as the high of the cocaine wears off. Cocaine leaves the body within two to three days, but the withdrawal period can be significantly longer.
Physical Effects of Cocaine Withdrawal
Because cocaine makes users feel so energetic, stopping can leave them feeling lethargic. Everyday tasks may seem overwhelming, and users can struggle to function without the drug.
Cocaine withdrawal can also cause symptoms such as chills, tremors, muscle aches, and nerve pain. Users can often cycle between feeling exhausted and bouts of extreme agitation and restlessness.
Unlike tranquilizers and opiates, no substitute drugs for cocaine are currently available. However, during the first days of detox, sleep medication or benzodiazepines may be used to ease withdrawal symptoms.
Mental Side Effects of Cocaine Withdrawal
The mental symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can be frightening and confusing. Cocaine effectively hijacks the brain’s reward pathways. This can lead to cocaine users craving the drug during withdrawal, even though they know it is bad for them.
Cocaine is very psychologically addictive. It gives users a huge boost in confidence, so the thought of life without it can be daunting.
Some of the other mental side effects of withdrawal are:
- Craving cocaine
- Bad dreams or nightmares
- Impaired sexual function
- Inability to feel joy
The detox clinic specialists understand cocaine withdrawal and how hard it can be. They also know the best way to support people as they go through the detoxification process.
Usually, people arrive having tried to stop on their own multiple times, and as a result, feel that their situation is hopeless. We passionately believe that there is no such thing as ‘no hope’, only that the right help hasn’t been found yet.
This is largely dependent on your metabolism and how long you have used cocaine. For most people, the acute symptoms take from three days to two weeks to subside. Some people experience mild symptoms in the months following detox. This is called post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). This is usually characterized by a low mood and sporadic cravings for cocaine.
Although this can be alarming, and people often feel like it is never going to end, the brain is a fantastic organ. It can repair the damage done to it by cocaine addiction, but it takes time. During these months, we recommend that our clients engage in one of our outpatient or partial-care programs for additional support.
Before any treatment starts, you can discuss your situation and entire drug history with one of our specialists. We know that it is common for cocaine users also to use other drugs such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opiates. Although this can complicate the detox process, if our specialists know, then they can help.
All information you give us is confidential and will only be used to make sure your detox is as comfortable and safe as possible.
CONTINUING RECOVERY AFTER DETOX
Detox is primarily concerned with treating the physical symptoms of addiction, rather than the underlying causes. It is only one part of a comprehensive recovery plan. If a client leaves detox without understanding why they developed an addiction, they are vulnerable to relapse.
People leaving detox will likely be exposed to many of their old triggers and motivations for using, which can be dangerous. However, with the correct therapy, recovery tools, and coping strategies, their chances of success massively increase.
What Does Recovery Look Like?
Recovery looks different for everyone. When you engage with the team at Excel following detox, you will be given a personalized recovery plan. Our team are experts in diagnosing the causes of addiction and work with our clients to resolve any underlying issues that contributed to their addiction.
These causes are different for everyone, and there are many reasons that people choose to use cocaine. Through our compassionate support program of individual, traditional, and holistic therapy, we aim to restore a sense of inner value in our clients, and show them how to live drug-free and happy lives.
Remaining on the recovery path requires maintenance. How this works varies for different people – and there are many roads to recovery. In New Jersey, there is a fantastic array of mutual aid meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, which are judgment-free zones and those in recovery can help and support each other.
Recovery is a brand-new start in life, and a chance to turn over a new leaf. We are proud to be partnered with well-equipped sober-living facilities which provide a structured environment and help those in early recovery to find their feet.