What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is an extremely potent central nervous system stimulant. As with all stimulants, cocaine is most commonly used recreationally for its effects of euphoria, heightened sense of alertness, reduced feelings of fatigue and overall improved sense of well-being. It has a high risk for abuse and dependence.
- Nose candy.
Selecting a Recovery Center and Paying
Cocaine abuse treatment can take several forms. The right program for you will depend on several factors, including your insurance, what kind of treatment is best for you and whether you want to travel, among other things.
Types of Rehab Centers
- Residential or inpatient. Residential cocaine treatment facilities require you to stay at the facility during your participation in the program. These programs offer the highest level of care for people in recovery.
- Outpatient rehabilitation programs do not require you to live at the treatment facility. But you will need to come to the rehab center 3-4 days a week for a few hours at a time for group or individual therapy.
- 12-step programs. The 2 most popular 12-step recovery programs for people with cocaine addiction are Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
Cost and Payment
Cocaine rehab programs do not have a set price. They vary depending on whether you choose an inpatient or outpatient program, what features the program offers, where it’s located and your insurance.
Learn more about insurance options below:
- Do you have insurance? Call a treatment representative at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to learn more about your coverage and recovery options.
- Are you looking for a program without insurance? Call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to get assistance finding a program that helps those with addiction who do not have insurance.
How Is It Used?
The most common methods for taking cocaine include eating it, snorting it or injecting it. Other less common methods of use include eating or drinking the drug. Some people rub the powder version of the drug onto moist mucosal surfaces of the body including the gums and under the tongue.
Cocaine can also be abused by heating it and inhaling the vapors or smoke into the lungs. This method results in very rapid absorption of the drug into the bloodstream and an intense but fleeting high.
It has been widely accepted that, outside of use for medical purposes, there is not a safe way to use cocaine.
Overall, the effects of cocaine can last varying lengths of time depending on the method of administration.
- If someone snorts cocaine, the effects are felt within about 3 to 5 minutes and this high can last anywhere from about 30 to 60 minutes. Some have reported even longer highs, lasting nearly 90 minutes, when the drug is snorted.
- If smoked or injected intravenously, the effects are felt almost immediately (within about 15 to 30 seconds). When smoked, the high lasts only about 5 to 10 minutes; however, when injected intravenously, the “rush” may last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Small doses of cocaine produce sensations of euphoria, increased energy and mental alertness. 2 Some individuals report that cocaine makes them more talkative and extroverted. Cocaine use can also lead to a loss of appetite and lack of sleep, which can lead to unhealthy weight changes and sleep disturbances.
As with other stimulants, cocaine use is associated with a number of serious cardiovascular side effects, including irregular heartbeat and heart attacks.
Cocaine administered intravenously can also increase the risks for conditions such as thrombophlebitis (inflamed, blocked blood vessel), endocarditis or valvular vegetation (inflammation of the inner layer of the heart), as well as embolisms (blood clots on arteries).
The short-term effects of cocaine include:
- Mood elevations.
- Increased alertness.
- Alleviation of fatigue.
- Heightened energy.
- Decreased appetite.
- Elevated body temperature.
- Dilated pupils.
- Constricted blood vessels.
- Rapid heart beat.
- High blood pressure.
- Heart palpitations.
- Coronary arterial spasm.
- Heart attack.
- Erratic or violent behavior.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- Sudden death (even if used just once).
Long-term misuse and dependence on cocaine can lead to a number of problems. Some of the most common long-term effects of continued misuse of cocaine include:
- Problems at work, school and/or with interpersonal relationships.
- Psychological problems (paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations).
- Damage to blood vessels in the heart and brain.
- Reproductive system dysfunction.
- Tooth decay.
- Damage to tissues in the nose.
- Liver and kidney damage.
- Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease. 6
Cocaine users often experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using the drug.5 In some cases, these symptoms emerge almost immediately once cocaine use has stopped.
The withdrawal period from cocaine is almost always accompanied by intense cravings for the drug. Many times, people will continue to use cocaine to alleviate or delay the onset of these unpleasant symptoms. Over time, this quickly leads to an addiction to the substance.
Cocaine withdrawals are not typically characterized by many observable physical symptoms, such as vomiting or shaking.
- Increased appetite.
- General discomfort.
- Distressing dreams.
- Intense craving for cocaine.
- Lack of pleasure.5
Duration of Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms generally last for several months after quitting.
The duration of cocaine withdrawal symptoms can depend on many factors, including the degree of the addiction and how long the person abused the drug. Generally, symptoms will last for several months after the person quits.
No effective medications are available to help alleviate the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. A person attempting to quit should seek help from a physician or health care provider.
Rates of relapse with cocaine are very high, and individuals who are experiencing withdrawal from the drug are at an increased risk for serious depression and even suicidal thoughts or actions. 5
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
If you or someone you love is experiencing these symptoms, contact a treatment support specialist at 1-888-319-2606
Cocaine has high potential for abuse and dependence. Individuals who use cocaine can become addicted with 1 week of use. 4
Some of the most common signs of addiction include:
- Difficulties in multiple facets of life (home, work, school, relationships).
- Involvement in illegal activities (theft, prostitution, drug dealing).
- Injuries due to violent behavior.
- Vacillating moods and erratic behavior.
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
- Social isolation.
- Spending significant time obtaining and using cocaine.
- Chronic head and neck issues in those who snort cocaine, including sinusitis, bleeding of the nose and perforated nasal septum.
- Various chronic respiratory issues in those who smoke it, including coughing, bronchitis and pneumonitis.4
How Addictive Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is extremely addictive due to its effects on dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter largely responsible for reward in the brain. When someone abuses cocaine, his or her brain is flooded with dopamine, causing intense euphoria. This rewarding sensation reinforces repeated use. Additionally, as the primary cocaine effects wear off, it is typical for users to keep using the drug to prevent a “come down” and prolong the high. Both the rewarding high, and persistent drug use behavior to stave off withdrawal can quickly manifest as dependence and addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 17% of adults over the age of 26 have used cocaine at some point in their lifetime.
Findings from this same study suggest that cocaine use among adolescents and young adults is somewhat lower than that of adults. Less than 5% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 reported using cocaine within the past year.
Globally, rates of cocaine use have remained stable for the last several years. According to the 2014 World Drug Report, an estimated 14 million to 21 million people reported using cocaine within the past year.
Overdose can occur with cocaine, resulting from an overstimulation of the central nervous system. It can lead to very serious cardiac problems or sudden death, even with the first use.
If you or someone you know may be suffering from cocaine overdose, call 911 immediately or visit the local emergency room.
- Irregular breathing.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Malignant hypertension.
- Chest pain.
- Cardiac arrest.
Teen Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine abuse in adolescents is particularly harmful as their brains are still developing. Many teens aren’t properly educated on the dangers of cocaine and don’t understand the implications of cocaine abuse. From 1991 to 2001, teen cocaine use increased 2%. But it has decreased in recent years.8 It is estimated that 4.6 % of high school seniors have tried cocaine. 7
Find Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with cocaine abuse, call our confidential, round-the-clock phone line at 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? . Speak with one of our treatment support specialists about substance abuse rehabilitation options.
. Karila L, Zarmdini R, Petit A, Lafaye G, Lowenstein W, Reynaud M. (2014). Cocaine addiction: Current data for the clinician. Presse Med 43:9-17.
. Spronk DB, van Wel JH, Ramaekers JG, Verkes RJ. (2013). Characterizing the cognitive effects of cocaine: A comprehensive review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 37:1838-1859.
. Badiani A, Spagnolo PA. (2013). Role of environmental factors in cocaine addiction. Curr Pharm Des 19:6996-7008.
. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Publishing.
. National Institutes of Health, U.S. Library of Medicine. (2013). Cocaine withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
. Lloyd, S., Faherty, C., & Smeyne, R. (2006). Adult and in utero exposure to cocaine alters sensitivity to the Parkinsonian toxin 1-methyl-4-phenyll-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine. Neuroscience 137(3):905-13. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
. NIDA for Teens. Cocaine. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2015, from https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/stimulants
. Kitchner, B. (2012). Youth mental health first aid USA: For adults assisting young people. Baltimore, MD: Mental Health Association of Maryland.
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