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How Addictive Is Cocaine?

How Addictive is Cocaine?

Substance use occurs when an illicit drug is consumed into the body. But what exactly does addiction mean in medical terms?

What Is An Addiction?

What is an Addiction?

Addiction definition

What is that critical stage, that defining moment in time, when a person becomes addicted? Therein lies the age-old question for which everyone searches.

  • Maybe they start online, looking for a list of questions, and can check all the boxes. Wait for a chemical indicator or a light flashing “Addicted”? No test exists believe it or not. It is a subjective diagnosis typically based professionally on an objective assessment of many factors.
  • Maybe it is a loved one who makes objective observations based upon behaviors? This might help get someone thinking, but often people get defensive because it is something they feel they should be able to accomplish alone. They may feel it shows a weakness of their character, so they refuse the help and ignore the problem or keep unsuccessfully trying to stop. This often leaves them feeling dejected and with low self-esteem.
  • Maybe they seek out a healthcare professional to give an analysis? Perhaps, but they won’t really emotionally trust the person because they haven’t been honest with themselves. Yet.

Most likely though, the person who is using a substance, in this case, cocaine, knows inside themselves something is not right. They know they have been down a rabbit hole and just haven’t figured out their way. For true recovery to begin, it has to build within, with the strength they might not have known they have, but a strong support team can help.

This is where the mental aspect as defined above must come into play. If someone has a substance use disorder and doesn’t fully understand the scope of how it affects them physically, mentally, and emotionally, they will be unprepared for what comes after they put the cocaine down.

While being in this helpless state, oftentimes they do what they know, and that is to pick the cocaine back up. Thus, the cycle of relapse begins even with the best intentions to reject the powder was for a new beginning.

Vertava Health of Texas has a licensed clinical staff who understands this rotation and can help with our treatment for cocaine addiction. It uses care and compassion to treat you or your loved one as an individual who needs assistance, not as a hopeless case or another number. You are what motivates us to our core in teaching strength through understanding while we assist on your life-changing journey to build your future.

When you go to a treatment center, they will be considering whether you are compliant to be there based on external factors or internal factors. That’s a fancy way of figuring out if you were “forced” because you didn’t have much of a choice or if there were an understanding on your part that you needed help. This step is a huge consideration for the type of treatment you will receive.

You can get help with the tools to learn how to rebuild your strength and future, but your recovery will truly be defined by how you independently lean into this process and use what you’ve been taught.

Inside The Mind: Cocaine’s Interruption Of Normal Order

Dopamine is the natural neurotransmitter in your brain that delivers signals, or messages, between nerve cells. Once it delivers its signal, it has a natural path to be absorbed back to the cell it came from. When cocaine comes into play, it blocks off this return and causes a back-up between the cells, essentially flooding your system with dopamine reward messages. This repeated use causes normal dopamine communication in the brain to malfunction.

The mind adapts too because the body is made to adapt so well to changing environments and the mind is no different; it makes the automatic adjustment. This is also the instance where addiction can develop as the mind wants to maintain this new level on which it operates.

The inherent problem is that because the adjustment is always made, the dosage or the frequency of dosing are the only factors now a person can change to feel the first state they initially felt upon using the substance.

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Cocaine Addiction Occurs With Persistent Need To Stay High

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is highly addictive. When the point of addiction occurs is not specifically known. A person’s response is to continue to keep this short-lived feeling going, but this requires more frequent use and higher dosage, as the body constantly adjusts itself to its new normal. Once the brain is no longer fed this substance causing the high from the dopamine back-up, withdrawal symptoms set in.

Cocaine And How It Is Used

Many people ask “Where does Cocaine come from?” Cocaine is derived from the coca plant native in South America. In its powder form is generally inhaled or snorted through the nose, or rubbed on the gum line.

It can be liquified and injected into the bloodstream or inhaled through the lungs with smoking. The crackling sound produced in the process is where the term “crack” originated. Cocaine and crack cocaine are the same substance, in slightly different forms.

Smoking or needle injection generally produces quicker and more potent highs than nasal ingestion.

Common other names:

  • blow
  • coke
  • crack
  • rock
  • snow

Cocaine’s Addictive Signs

Physical and behavioral changes may be evident, along with the presence of odd items in a user’s pockets, car, bathroom, or other areas in the home, if they are still living somewhere you can observe their space.

If you are seeing someone that is acting like they are in a euphoric or hyped-up state, and have noticed some of the below signs in more recent times, the underlying culprit could be cocaine use.

Physical signs:

  • burn marks on lips or fingers
  • runny or bloody nose
  • dilated pupils
  • significant weight loss
  • nausea
  • shaking
  • elevated heart rate

Behavioral signs:

  • the appearance of mood swings
  • stealing money or personal property
  • poor hygiene
  • isolation from loved ones or sober friends (this is usually due to a person centering their life around the cycle of finding and using drugs)
  • risky sex
  • bizarre behavior
  • restlessness
  • anxiety or depression following a binge period

Paraphernalia signs:

  • the sudden appearance of lighters
  • random spoons that may have a burnt tarry substance
  • rolled dollar bills or cut-off straws (used for snorting)
  • mini zip baggies
  • syringes
  • razor blades
  • steel wool (for filtering purposes if inhaled through a pipe)

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Effects To Health With Cocaine Use

Usually, people are asked how long cocaine use has been because there are short- and long-term mental and physical side effects to consider.

In the short term, and with sporadic use, cocaine can lead to health complications such as high blood pressure, hardened arteries, bowel gangrene, and loss of gray matter in the brain due to the expansion of the reward center of the brain.

Long-term use or overdose can lead to heart attack, stroke, brain hemorrhage, and respiratory failure. Because cocaine eliminates appetite, many of those who use cocaine are also malnourished.

Cocaine Withdrawal

When a person addicted to cocaine either attempts to quit taking it or can’t find money, they may experience uncomfortable side effects without the drug, including withdrawal. The euphoric effects of cocaine do not last long, and when they wear off can cause several negative symptoms.

The immediate reactions to the lack of cocaine are depression, irritability, and mood swings.

Over time, the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine intensify, resulting in:

  • fatigue
  • hunger
  • tremors
  • intense cocaine cravings
  • nightmares or sleep disturbances
  • concentration issues

Attempting to withdraw from cocaine without medical supervision can be dangerous. It is important to always seek assistance from a medical professional or detox center when struggling with substance abuse, including cocaine addiction.

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Vertava Health Of Texas Detox And Treatment Program

When you enter our treatment center, we will fully assess your health to develop the right treatment plan developed uniquely for you. You will be cared for emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially by us because we believe that by treating your whole self you will be able to build your future.

Our clinical therapists will lead your therapies throughout, with recovery and relapse prevention built-in:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy
  • dialectical behavior therapy
  • family therapy
  • mindfulness/stress management
  • motivational interviewing
  • contingency management therapy

Our beautiful campus covers 65 acres, which will give you access to outside activities including our adventure program complete with a zip line, equine therapy, and outside meeting spaces. Our space offers you the luxury of programs to grow with art, cooking, music, and dance because it is important to have new experiences, hobbies, and passions in your sober life.

Our addiction treatment programs are founded on the knowledge and principle that for treatment to be effective, it must recognize and nurture the unique landscape of each client’s life. Whether this means identifying and treating negative patterns or behaviors or recognizing and nurturing positive ones, we are 100% committed to your recovery.

If you would like to learn more about how Vertava Health of Texas’ inpatient drug rehab programs could help you or a loved one build a sober life, contact us now. Your call is confidential, and our compassionate staff will help you to begin building a treatment plan. Call us at 877-318-2084.

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