After cannabis, cocaine is the most widely used drug in the UK. [i] Cocaine is an addictive drug – and using cocaine frequently may lead to you developing cocaine dependence and cocaine addiction. This can have detrimental effects on not only your physical health but your mental health, your relationships, your finances, and even your work.
This is something that we can help with at Help4Addiction. Read on to learn more about drug abuse – specifically cocaine abuse and drug addiction. If you feel like you may have an addiction to cocaine or any other substances such as heroin addiction, cannabis addiction, or alcohol addiction, contact us today to find your local treatment provider, and to discuss treatment for cocaine addiction. With us, you can explore treatment options in safe hands.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is powerfully addictive. It has been around for a long time – in fact, historically, people in South America would chew coca leaves from the coca plant (known as Erythroxylon coca) to experience the stimulant effect of cocaine.
However, the substance is now much purer after the chemical cocaine hydrochloride was isolated from coca leaves from the coca plant over a century ago. The drug (purified cocaine) was actually used in a variety of elixirs and tonics in the early 1900s – and was even used in Coca Cola, and was used as a local anaesthetic by surgeons to block pain.
Despite its regular use in the medical, holistic and beverage manufacturing industry in the past, cocaine is an addictive substance that can cause many negative effects, including altered brain function and structure.[ii]
Cocaine is typically sold and used in the powdered form – powder cocaine. Powder cocaine is a fine, white powder that is commonly snorted – although it can be injected after being dissolved in water.
Cocaine users may also use cocaine orally, by rubbing the powder onto their gums. [iii] When snorted, cocaine enters the bloodstream through the nasal membranes, reaching the brain. Cocaine users that snort cocaine powder will typically feel the drug’s effects in a matter of minutes. However, when injected, users can feel the effects much quicker – in a matter of seconds. [iv] This is because it reaches the bloodstream directly.
As well as coke, cocaine has a variety of ‘street’ names. Some of the most common names for cocaine include flake, line, snow, powder, nose candy, charlie, big C, and many more. [v]
Cocaine can come in different forms – you may have heard of crack cocaine and cocaine powder. Crack cocaine (smoking cocaine) emerged back in the 1980s and has a modified chemical structure that works to reach your brain quicker, producing a more intense high. It gets its name from the ‘cracking’ noise that users have found it makes when burned. [vi]
Instead of snorted, crack cocaine is smoked and inhaled. It’s a short-acting drug with intense effects, which comes from cooking the cocaine in baking soda and water to produce small rocks. Crack cocaine and powder cocaine users have different stereotypes – and crack cocaine is often associated with social deprivation. [vii]
Cocaine use and cocaine abuse can lead to you developing a cocaine addiction – read on to learn more about drug abuse and cocaine abuse. Knowing about drug abuse can be helpful in preventing drug abuse and even controlling cocaine abuse.
What is Drug Abuse?
Drug abuse, or substance abuse, is defined as the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, or prescription drugs/ over the counter drugs for other reasons than the reasons they were supposed to be used, or excessive drug use. Typically, drug abuse leads to a combination of emotional, physical, social, and professional issues. [viii]
Cocaine Abuse: The Facts
Cocaine is one of the most used drugs in the UK – in fact, roughly 2.9% of adults between the ages of 16 and 59 have used powder cocaine. This figure rises to 6.2% in the demographic of 16-24-year-olds. [ix]
Cocaine can be dangerous even after taking it just one time. However, cocaine abuse can be especially risky if you have a heart condition or increased blood pressure – with the potential of causing a heart attack/ cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, or a stroke.
Cocaine abuse can also be more dangerous when mixing alcohol and other drugs. Mixing cocaine with alcohol and other drugs can even cause cocaine deaths. Cocaine abuse can affect your appearance over time. For example, snorting cocaine can lead to cartilage damage, eventually leading to your nose being misshapen, or having one large nostril. This is known as a perforated septum – and can lead to infected scabs, heavy breathing, and nasal obstruction. [x] Cocaine can also damage your veins when injected, causing ulcers and even gangrene.
Abusing cocaine can affect your mental health, and can lead to you feeling run-down, feelings of severe depression, anxiety, and paranoia. If you experienced mental health issues in the past, then cocaine abuse can bring these back to the surface. [xi]
When you abuse cocaine, there is always a chance that you could overdose. Some signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse may include:
- High temperature
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Trouble breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
If you think you have overdosed or you are around somebody presenting signs of a cocaine overdose, you should call the emergency services. At Help4Addiction, we can provide phone support, and help you find the right rehab treatment for you, whether it be for cocaine, cannabis, heroin, or alcohol.
What is a Cocaine Addiction?
Substance addiction or substance use disorder (SUD) is a brain condition that is characterised by a lack of control over taking a substance. People with a cocaine addiction will continue taking cocaine despite the negative physical, mental, and social effects. [xii]
Cocaine changes the way your brain works, affecting the signalling process between neurotransmitters and receptors. Our body produces many neurotransmitters – but dopamine is the key neurotransmitter. Dopamine, a chemical messenger, plays a big role in how we feel pleasure. Our body produces dopamine when we’re doing something we’re enjoying, such as playing games or eating our favourite foods.
Typically, dopamine is recycled and goes back to the cell that released it – however, cocaine and other stimulants prevent this process from occurring. Instead, the dopamine builds up in the brain, leaving you wanting more cocaine to feel the desired effects.
Continued cocaine use changes how your brain’s dopamine system functions, meaning you no longer feel pleasure from everyday activities. This can leave you feeling the urge to take the drug just to feel pleasure. [xiii]
Cocaine abuse can often lead to physical dependence – which means that you’ll feel the need to take more and more of the drug to feel the same effect, and you cocaine experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it or you lower the amount you take. See the ‘Detox’ section to learn more about the cocaine withdrawal process and cocaine detox.
Risk Factors for Cocaine Addiction
There can be a variety of risk factors for cocaine addiction. Although some studies suggest that one of the main risk factors is a person’s genetics, some other risk factors include environmental factors and being around others with cocaine addiction.
For example, unemployment, poverty, stress, and emotional/ professional pressure can trigger addiction or put you at an increased risk.[xiv] This is because substance abuse can be a way of blocking out issues – and can lead to cocaine dependence.
Cocaine Addiction Symptoms
Cocaine alerts your brain’s reward system, ultimately causing feelings of euphoria. [xv] This is one of the main reasons that people get addicted to cocaine and other stimulants. It may be difficult to identify a cocaine addiction, but there are some signs to look out for that can alert you, whether it be physical health problems and symptoms, behavioural symptoms, or psychological symptoms.
One of the main identifiers of cocaine addiction is the inability to control, lower, or stop your cocaine use, and need to take more cocaine to feel the same effect. However, some other signs may include:
- Craving cocaine
- Cocaine withdrawal symptoms
- Constant runny nose
- Irritable mood
- Increased energy
- Changes in mood and behaviour
- Unpredictable behaviour
- Changes in blood pressure
- Lying or stealing (to afford cocaine)
Cocaine abuse can put you at risk for many physical health issues, including stomach, lung, and heart issues. It alters your brain’s chemistry and can make it difficult for you to sleep, think, and remember things.
If you think you may have a cocaine addiction, or somebody you know has a cocaine addiction, we recommend getting help. Read on to learn more about the cocaine addiction treatment process and other drug addiction treatments.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
At Help4Addiction, we can help you find the right cocaine addiction rehab treatment centre for you. With centres located around England and Wales, you’re sure to find a quality local treatment centre with Help4Addiction.
Typically, drug addiction treatment begins with cocaine detoxification, then therapy, and finally, aftercare or secondary treatment.
Many people prefer to treat their cocaine addiction on an outpatient basis – however, depending on the severity of your addiction, you may benefit from inpatient treatment in the form of residential rehab.
Breaking the dependency on cocaine can be a difficult and sometimes dangerous process, which is why our addiction specialists will ensure you’re medically reviewed to find the right rehabilitation treatment for you.
The timeline of rehab can vary from patient to patient, but for cocaine addiction, it’s almost always recommended to undergo 28-day rehab. However, we also offer 7-day rehab for addictions such as cannabis addiction or alcohol addiction, as well as 14-day rehab options.
The first (and arguably the most important) stage of treatment for cocaine addiction is the detoxification process. This is the stage where the toxins exit your body. Some people choose to detox from cocaine on an inpatient basis with medical supervision, which can be particularly helpful with more severe cocaine addictions.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can be rough and dangerous depending on a variety of factors such as the severity of the addiction, as well as age and weight.
Some withdrawal symptoms that cocaine addicts may experience include:
- Cocaine cravings
- Feelings of sadness and depression
- Trouble concentrating
- Decreased appetite
- Problems with sleep
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can occur any time after a few hours up to a few weeks after stopping cocaine use. Most people can manage these symptoms without hospitalisation, but it’s always helpful to have the support of addiction specialists.[xvi] However, with drugs such as heroin, quitting without medical assistance can be a dangerous method.
Although most of the withdrawal symptoms may become more bearable with time, you may experience intense cocaine cravings and depression for months after your last cocaine use. In some instances, residential rehabilitation may be the best choice. [xvii]
Upon completing a successful cocaine detox, you will undergo the next stage of the rehab process. This involves receiving the support you need to remain off the drug, and often involves a variety of therapies. [xviii] Talking therapies and behavioural therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can help you to identify and deal with the root of the substance abuse. It can also help you gain an understanding of your triggers – and find out exactly why you got addicted to cocaine.
However, therapies can vary from clinic to clinic. Group therapy is almost always included, which allows you to discuss your situation, experiences, and feelings with others in a similar situation. You’ll also likely be offered one-to-one sessions with a clinical psychologist or a counsellor, as well as holistic therapies such as sports therapy or art therapy.
Secondary treatment and cocaine addiction aftercare can help to streamline your recovery and prevent relapse. At Help4Addiction, we don’t just wave goodbye when you leave rehab – we will continue to support you.
You may choose to undergo outpatient therapy, such as group therapy or support groups. Ongoing support is a crucial aspect of cocaine use disorder rehab.