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What are the Symptoms and Treatment for Cocaine Abuse?

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that produces euphoria, increased energy, strength and sociability, and a sense of control. It comes from the Coca plant and is known on the street by such names as coke, gold dust, flake, snow, toot and blow.

Because a cocaine high typically lasts only an hour or so, users often go on cocaine “binges” taking multiple doses in a short period of time. It is also common for cocaine addicts to mix the drug with heroin, Valium, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs. Like other drugs, cocaine triggers the reward centers of the brain, changing the brain chemistry so that the user struggles to feel good — or even normal — without the drug.

Cocaine vs. Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is cocaine that has been processed in a lab by boiling it down into solid chunks, also known as freebasing. Before it reaches the street, crack is typically “cut” with sugars, local anesthetics or other illicit drugs to reduce its purity. For this reason, it is difficult to know what to expect when using crack cocaine.

Cocaine is typically dissolved and injected or snorted as powder, whereas crack cocaine is most commonly smoked. Users report that crack cocaine produces a shorter but more intense high and is cheaper than cocaine.

Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine abuse can produce powerful drug cravings. For example, in animal studies, rats work harder to get cocaine than any other drug. Symptoms of cocaine addiction vary depending on the method of use, but may include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Persistent runny nose (cocaine drip)
  • Weight loss
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Teeth grinding
  • Cold sweats
  • Tremors and muscle jerks
  • Nasal and sinus problems (coke nose)
  • Bronchitis and chest pain
  • Feeling that bugs are crawling under the skin

In serious cases, cocaine addiction can lead to cocaine psychosis (similar to paranoid schizophrenia), seizures, stroke, heart attack, coma and death. People addicted to cocaine often experience job loss, divorce, financial hardship, incarceration and other problems before realizing that they need cocaine rehab.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Getting someone into treatment for cocaine addiction can be a life-saving decision. In cocaine rehab, the addict can recognize their addiction for what it is: a chronic disease that requires professional treatment.

Cocaine rehab is typically most effective in a residential setting. While the physical withdrawal symptoms of cocaine addiction are not life-threatening and typically pass in a week or less, the psychological drug cravings are intense and lead many people to relapse.

In cocaine rehab, addicts typically have access to the following services, among others:

  • Medical monitoring and medication, as needed
  • Individual, group and family therapy
  • Twelve-Step meetings such as Cocaine Anonymous
  • Sober recreational activities
  • Education about cocaine addiction
  • Relapse prevention planning

Getting clean requires more than a stay in cocaine rehab — it requires an ongoing commitment to protecting one’s sobriety. Along with the skills learned in treatment, finding interests outside of abusing cocaine and a supportive peer group can help addicts stay on the road to lifelong recovery.

If you or someone you know is wrestling with cocaine, call our free helpline today at 1-877-562-2565.

Information used with permission from CRC Health Group.