For those who are involved in a love affair with cocaine, there’s no substitute for the surge of energy, power and euphoria that the drug brings. This central nervous system stimulant comes from the coca plant, which is native to South and Central America. The cocaine you buy on the streets contains a combination of coca extract and other chemical additives, such as anesthetics, sugar, talc or cheaper stimulant drugs. Whether it’s snorted as a powder or smoked as crack, cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs on the streets. Understanding the facts about cocaine addiction can help you be aware of the scope of this drug’s life-threatening potential.
How Widespread Is Cocaine Abuse?
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) tracks trends in drug abuse and addiction in the United States. According to the 2011 survey results, 1.4 million Americans over the age of 11 reported that they were currently using cocaine. This number represents 0.5 percent of the American population. Among young people between the ages of 12 and 17, 17.5 percent stated that cocaine was readily available and easy to obtain. And out of the drugs that had the highest rates of abuse, cocaine came in third in the United States, after marijuana and prescription pain medications.
Cocaine acts directly on the central nervous system, affecting the way your brain processes dopamine, a chemical that helps to regulate your moods and generates a sense of happiness. When you use cocaine, the active chemicals interfere with the way the brain processes dopamine. Instead of being taken back into the cells, the neurotransmitter builds up in your system, creating intense feelings of pleasure, according to Addictive Research. But once your brain gets used to higher dopamine levels, you can quickly become tolerant on the drug and then dependent on its effects.
Cocaine also acts on the cardiovascular system by raising your heart rate and giving you a sense of increased energy. These stimulating effects may make you feel more alive or invigorated, but cocaine can increase your risk of high blood pressure, a heart attack and stroke.
According to the Department of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia Health System, cocaine addiction is notoriously hard to treat because the drug acts on so many important areas of the brain. Cocaine affects the areas of your brain that control learning, memory, motor activities and memory, which means that treatment must be carefully planned to avoid damaging these key functions. And because cocaine changes the way your brain experiences pleasure, cravings for the drug drive many addicts back to it in spite of their best intentions.
What Treatment Strategies Are Most Effective?
Treating cocaine addiction may be challenging — but it’s not impossible. If you’re motivated to get clean and you work with an experienced team of addiction experts, you can beat this dangerous drug. Therapeutic methods such as motivational interviewing (MI) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) have helped many cocaine addicts achieve long-term abstinence by teaching them positive ways to cope with the environmental cues and stressors that motivate them to use.
Medication therapy has been used successfully to support cocaine addicts in recovery. Prescription drugs like topiramate, disulfiram and naltrexone have been used to help recovering addicts maintain abstinence. In addition, medical researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine have discovered a cocaine vaccine that may help users quit by blocking the pleasurable sensations that the drug produces.
At Axis, we draw from a number of different resources to create treatment plans that are tailored to your needs. Because no two cocaine users are exactly alike, no two treatment programs should be identical. Call us to learn how you can overcome cocaine addiction with an individualized recovery program that’s designed to meet your needs.