Cocaine addiction: symptoms and treatment


In today's newsletter, I will explain the negative effects of cocaine addiction and possible treatments for this addiction.

Table of contents

Hey Friends, Today we are going to talk about cocaine addiction.

Cocaine use is usually associated with leisure or party environments. The profile can be a shy person who wants to have a more sociable attitude at certain events, or someone who goes out to a party and wants to dance or drink for a longer time.

For some people, cocaine becomes the way to be active and thus get work done faster or increase creativity. 

However, cocaine addiction usually begins and ends the same way: with health problems, relationship problems, changes in mood, financial problems, etc.

Currently, there are fewer people addicted to cocaine compared to past decades.

Despite this, cocaine remains a threat to the health of people who start using it. The negative effects of consuming cocaine can affect the health and proper functioning of the person in different contexts of his life. In this newsletter, I'm going to explain the symptoms and treatment of cocaine addiction.

Lines of coke
Lines of coke

1. Cocaine addiction symptoms

Some symptoms of cocaine addiction are:

Psychological symptoms

  • Consume cocaine in doses greater than those thought or planned.
  • Failed attempts to stop using cocaine.
  • Use of most of the time in obtaining and consuming the substance.
  • Continuing to use cocaine despite knowing its harmful effects.
  • In high doses, it can produce paranoid symptoms.

Behavioral symptoms

  • Consumption in dangerous situations.
  • Abandonment of important activities due to consuming the substance, that is, the person's life revolves around the substance.
  • Inability to take on responsibilities.

Physical symptoms

  • Craving (desire to consume the substance).
  • Tolerance: the need to increase the dose of cocaine to obtain the same gratification.
  • Loss of sense of smell.
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Difficulty to swallow.

Social symptoms

  • Despite the fact that consumption has generated social or interpersonal problems, he continues to use the drug.
  • Social isolation from friends or family members who do not use.
  • Avoidance of social events.

2. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms

Due to the brevity and intensity of the effect of cocaine, the withdrawal symptoms of this substance appear quickly.

In fact, many people who use cocaine can experience these symptoms within an hour of the last use.

This phenomenon, known as a crash, is the warning that the body and the brain begin to perceive deficits in certain neurotransmitters, especially dopamine. As a result of this lack, the person addicted to cocaine experiences feelings of:

  • anxiety,
  • tiredness,
  • insomnia,
  • increased appetite and
  • even paranoia.

It is common that when the person is not drugged, they present fatigue or deep depression until the consumption is repeated.

In addition to the above symptoms, the craving (desire to consume the substance) is the most characteristic symptom of withdrawal periods. Because of long-term chemical changes in the brain caused by cocaine use, psychological withdrawal symptoms can last longer than physical ones.

Until the person spends some time abstinent, the brain will not naturally produce neurotransmitters (dopamine) again to solve the chemical imbalance caused by cocaine use. Until then, withdrawal symptoms may persist.

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3. Cocaine addiction treatment

There are many treatment options available to help an addicted person quit using cocaine, from admission to regular visits to the clinic or center where the affected person is receiving treatment.

The treatment can be psychological and pharmacological.

Psychological treatment

  • Behavioral therapy: is a psychological therapy that focuses on the reasons, motivations and possible underlying psychological aspects related to the use of cocaine. Current research points to behavioral therapy as an effective therapy in cocaine-addicted patients. An example of this therapy that has obtained good abstinence results is contingency management. This treatment is based on providing incentives (money, gifts...) if the patient maintains abstinence or improves in some other positive aspect, such as improved social relationships. This treatment has shown good results, but in the long term it seems to lose some efficacy.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Another psychological treatment that can be used in cases of cocaine addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It focuses mainly on the reasons why the person consumes the substance and helps to modify certain thought patterns that are not adaptive and that can favor cocaine use.

Drug therapy

Drug therapy is used to treat the physical symptoms of cocaine dependence.

This type of treatment uses medications that act similarly to the substance of abuse, but to a different or reduced degree. Over time, the doses of these medications are reduced in order to disassociate oneself from the substance and be able to work on drug dependency in abstinence and be closer to recovery from addiction.

The medication used depends on the specific program and each case, so one medication does not work universally for all cases of cocaine addiction.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative, I have no authority to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment. I invite you to visit a psychologist to treat your particular case.