Cocaine is a stimulant. It’s also one of the most used and abused drugs on the planet. It has a history of high profile use from celebrities, singers, actors, politicians and other famous and infamous people. In recent years, use of the drug has become even more popular. It’s estimated that just over 5 million people abuse the drug in any given year – that equals about 1% of the population. But, what is cocaine and why is it so addictive?
The truth about cocaine is that it is an incredibly addictive substance. Before a person can become addicted to it, dependency occurs. Dependency happens pretty quickly – but not nearly as quickly as heroin or opiate dependence. People become cocaine-dependent because cocaine is a “happy” drug that increases the amount of serotonin and dopamine in the body. When someone uses cocaine, they get used to high concentrations of dopamine and serotonin – and that’s what’s addictive.
When someone takes cocaine, they experience euphoria – because they’re being smacked with a high concentration of serotonin and dopamine all at once. Cocaine users also experience an increase in alertness, energy, and overall confidence, while at the same time feeling decreased inhibitions. The drug acts as a serotonin and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, creating a higher concentration of serotonin and dopamine in the body.
Cocaine causes dependence and addiction in a short time period, as the body gets used to being blasted with high levels of dopamine and serotonin. Flooding the serotonin reuptake inhibitors with that much euphoria is completely unsustainable and that’s why addiction to cocaine is unsustainable.
A person becomes physically dependent on cocaine when stopping causes them to go into withdrawal. That said, cocaine dependence isn’t as severe as heroin dependence. With heroin, the desire to get drugs at all costs, even if you’re working against yourself and your own best interest is much more pervasive. When compared to heroin, cocaine withdrawal lasts for less time. Also, cocaine users can use it month after month, even year on top of year before becoming addicted to the substance.
Much like with heroin addiction, the desire to use cocaine is about “feeling better.” Cocaine users experience the ups and downs of euphoria and depression for a period of time. Users want to feel euphoria instead of depression and, simply put, that’s what leads to addiction.
An individual who has been using and/or abusing Cocaine may show the following signs and symptoms:
Going through withdrawal under the care of a medical professional is a key to success when it comes to finally quitting cocaine for good. Having a medical professional there to help has a variety of benefits, including preventing or reducing emotional distress during withdrawal. Working with a medical professional may also help prevent respiratory or cardiac problems.
Still, people often decide to withdraw by themselves. When people quit on their own, they get through the first few days of withdrawal without really addressing the root causes of their addiction and the reasons why they are motivated to quit. That’s why having therapy during withdrawal is extremely beneficial.
Because cocaine is a stimulant, it causes a natural crash when it’s not being used. The usual timetable for cocaine withdrawal begins about a day after the last dose – that’s when you start to feel like junk. The icky feelings escalate over the few days until, about a week after the final dose, your withdrawal symptoms plateau. Then, about two weeks after stopping, the withdrawal begins to fade out. The lingering symptoms of withdrawal include craving, depression, anxiety, and disorientation. A person may also feel irritable or paranoid. They may also experience a phenomenon known as emotional blunting. This is a phenomenon where addicts are unable to feel any emotion after quitting. The amount of time this period lasts for depends on you and the help you seek.
Those who have experienced cocaine addiction know it is a serious disorder that requires professional treatment. Those who do not seek professional help are at higher risk for relapse. If you or a loved one is experiencing cocaine addiction, quitting now is of the utmost importance. Users who don’t seek treatment are putting their health, finances, career, and family life at risk. Help may include cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, group therapy, and full support for stress management
At Virtual Treatment Center, we believe quality addiction recovery and mental health services should be easily accessible to those that want or need them, because ease of accessibility is what most often leads to success. That’s why we’re committed to providing top-tier virtual mental health teletherapy and addiction recovery services to all residents of California. Although we’re located in Orange County, our online teletherapy can be accessed throughout the state. In addition to providing addiction recovery services, we treat a variety of mental health issues and offer Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). Our teletherapy sessions are done via two-way, live interactive video or by telephone. Therapeutic visits are conducted on Zoom most often, or on other virtual platforms that adhere to HIPAA compliance requirements.
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