Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health

Person preparing to sniff cocaine. Depicts cocaine addiction.

Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?

It may seem that the prevalence of cocaine use in Canada is low in comparison to other countries, but for those that struggle with addiction, the cost to quality of life is high. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can produce feelings of euphoria and increased energy. However, it is also very addictive. In this post, we take a look at why is cocaine so addictive and share information on how cocaine affects the brain. Read on for cocaine addiction signs and withdrawal symptoms so you can help yourself or those who may be in need.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a white, powdery substance that comes from coca plant leaves. It is most often used as a recreational drug and has a long history of abuse. You can snort, inject, or smoke it.

How Does Cocaine Work?

Cocaine works by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. This results in feelings of pleasure and increased energy. Dopamine plays a major part in the brain’s reward system, which helps to explain why cocaine is so addictive.

What Are the Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?

Short-term effects of cocaine can last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. The short-term effects of cocaine use include:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Improved mood
  • A sense of well-being
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?

Cocaine use can lead to a number of long-term adverse effects. These include:

  • Drug Addiction
  • Cardiovascular problems (e.g., heart attack, stroke)
  • Respiratory problems (e.g., lung damage)
  • Gastrointestinal problems (e.g., ulcers)
  • Neurological problems (e.g., seizures)
  • Mental health problems (e.g., anxiety, depression)

Cocaine use can also lead to death.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Drug addiction is a complex disease associated with compulsive drug seeking and use, despite negative consequences. Drug addiction is a chronic disease, which means it can last a lifetime. There are a number of factors that contribute to the development of drug addiction, including:

  • Biological factors (e.g., genes, neurobiology)
  • Environmental factors (e.g., stress, peer pressure)
  • Psychological factors (e.g., anxiety, depression)

Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?

This is because cocaine alters the brain’s chemistry in a way that makes it very difficult to stop using the drug. Many reasons discussed below help to explain why cocaine is addictive.

Positive Reinforcement

As mentioned above, cocaine increases the levels of dopamine in the brain. However, the brain adapts to the presence of dopamine due to cocaine consumption and begins to produce less dopamine on its own. As a result, people who use cocaine regularly need larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect.

Rapid Acting

Cocaine is a rapid-acting drug. This can lead to a cycle of abuse in which people use cocaine more and more in an attempt to maintain the initial high.

Highs Last a Short Time

The high produced by cocaine is also short-lived, lasting only a few minutes to an hour. This can lead to compulsive drug-seeking behaviour as people try to maintain the high for as long as possible.

Highs Precede Lows

Cocaine use often results in a period of depression or anxiety, known as a crash. The crash can last for several hours or even days. During this time, people may feel tired, irritable, and crave more cocaine. This can lead to binge drug use, in which people take large amounts of cocaine over a short period of time.

Tolerance

People who use cocaine often may develop a tolerance to the drug. This means that they will need to use larger and larger doses to achieve the desired effect. Cocaine tolerance can lead to addiction and increased health risks.

Gateway Drug

Cocaine is often referred to as a gateway drug. This means that it can lead to the use of other hard drugs and addictive substances, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Opioids
  • Other hard drugs

People who use cocaine are at an increased risk of developing an addiction to another substance.

Often Used With Other Substances

Cocaine is often used with other substances, such as alcohol or marijuana. This can increase the risk of adverse effects and make it even more difficult to stop using the drug.

Methods of Use

There are a few ways to use cocaine, including snorting, smoking, and injecting. Each method of use has its own risks and dangers.

Snorting

Snorting cocaine is the most common method of use. This involves sniffing or inhaling cocaine through the nostrils. This method of use can damage the nasal passages and lead to several problems, including:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Sinus infections
  • Nasal damage
  • Weight Loss

Snorting cocaine can also lead to an increased risk of overdose.

Smoking

Smoking cocaine involves using a pipe to heat the cocaine powder and produce a vapour that is inhaled. This method of use is also known as freebasing. Smoking cocaine can damage the lungs and lead to a number of respiratory problems, including:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Weight loss
  • Risk of overdose

Injecting

Injecting cocaine involves dissolving the powder in water and then injecting it into the veins. This method of use is the most dangerous and can lead to several problems, including:

  • Infections
  • Bloodborne diseases
  • Skin damage
  • Vein damage
  • Risk of overdose

Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is a dangerous drug that involves cooking cocaine powder with ammonia or baking soda. It is consumed either by smoking or injection, and its addiction rates are high. This form of the drug is very dangerous and can lead to a number of serious health problems, including:

Crack cocaine is also very damaging to the lungs and can cause a number of respiratory problems.

Risks and Dangers of Cocaine Use

Cocaine use comes with a number of risks and dangers. These include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Arrhythmias
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney failure

What Happens to the Brain of an Addict?

Addiction can change the brain in several ways. These changes are long-lasting and can lead to changes in behaviour that are characteristic of addiction. Some of the changes that occur in the brain of an addict include:

  • Altered levels of dopamine
  • Changes in brain structure and function
  • Impaired decision-making

These changes in the brain can make it difficult for someone to quit using cocaine, even when they want to.

Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

There are a number of signs of cocaine addiction. These include:

  • Using more cocaine than intended
  • Unable to stop using cocaine
  • Spending money on cocaine even when there is no money to spend
  • Neglecting responsibilities in order to use cocaine
  • Continuing to use cocaine even though it is causing problems
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Lying about cocaine use
  • Stealing to get money for cocaine
  • Feeling anxious or irritable when not using cocaine
  • Needing more and more cocaine to get the desired effect
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using cocaine
  • Chronic restlessness
  • Nosebleeds(from snorting)
  • A decline in health and appearance
  • Track marks
  • Inability to sleep
  • Weight Loss

Cocaine Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine use often leads to dependence, which means that people will experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop using the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Intense drug cravings

Withdrawal from cocaine is difficult and uncomfortable, which can make it hard to quit using the drug. In fact, many people who try to quit end up relapsing because they cannot handle the withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Treatment for cocaine addiction begins with detoxification, followed by counselling and support groups. Medications may also be used to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal and craving. The goal of treatment is to help the person stop using cocaine and return to a healthy and productive life.

Therapy

Therapy for cocaine addiction is done on an individual or group basis. It is important to find a therapist who is familiar with treating drug addiction.

Medication

There are no medications approved for the treatment of cocaine addiction. However, there are some medications that may be helpful in managing the symptoms of withdrawal and craving.

Support Groups

Support groups can be a helpful part of treatment for cocaine addiction. These groups provide support and information to people who are struggling with addiction.

Rehab Programs for Cocaine Addiction

There are two types of rehabilitation programs: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient programs offer a more controlled setting, whereas outpatient programs let the person receiving treatment keep living at home.

Inpatient Rehab Treatment

With inpatient rehab programs, treatment for cocaine addiction often lasts for 30 days. During this time, the person will stay at a facility and receive around-the-clock care. Treatment will focus on:

  • Helping the person stop using cocaine
  • Managing any withdrawal symptoms

Outpatient Rehab Treatment

Outpatient rehab treatment for cocaine addiction often lasts for 12 weeks. During this time, the person will meet with a therapist on a regular basis and will also attend support groups. Treatment will focus on helping the person stop using cocaine and on managing any withdrawal symptoms.

Narcotics and Cocaine Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous is a 12-step program for people who are struggling with addiction. The program focuses on helping people to stop using drugs and to live a sober life. 

Cocaine Anonymous is a 12-step program specific to people who are addicted to cocaine.

How Do Twelve-Step Programs Work?

Twelve-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous are based on the idea that addiction is a disease that can be overcome with the help of a higher power. The programs provide support and information to people who are struggling with addiction.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is based on the idea that addiction is a disease that can be overcome with the help of cognitive-behavioural therapy. The program focuses on helping people to change their thinking and behaviours in order to stop using drugs.

Detox For Cocaine Addiction

Detoxification is the first step in treating cocaine addiction. During detox, the person will be monitored by medical staff. The goal of detox is to help the person stop using cocaine and to manage any withdrawal symptoms.

Aftercare and Recovery

After completing treatment for cocaine addiction, it is important to have a plan in place for ongoing recovery. Aftercare and recovery services can help to support the person in their recovery journey. Services can include counselling, support groups, and sober living.

Contingency Management

Contingency management is a treatment approach that uses rewards to motivate people to stay in treatment and abstain from cocaine use. This approach is effective in treating cocaine addiction.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is a treatment approach that helps people to identify the situations and triggers that may lead to relapse. This approach can help people to avoid relapses and to stay in recovery.

The Importance of Treatment

Treatment for cocaine addiction is important because it can help the person to stop using cocaine and to live a healthy and productive life. Treatment can also help to prevent relapse and to reduce the risk of overdose.

It can be incredibly difficult to overcome cocaine addiction on your own. These treatment programs and options can give you the support and assistance that you need to recover from addiction and lead a healthy and happy life.

Get Addiction Treatment and Mental Health Support

We hope this article answered the question of why is cocaine so addictive and educated you on the signs of a cocaine addict and what cocaine addiction symptoms look like. If you or someone you know is struggling with a cocaine addiction, please call us today. Residents of Toronto and the GTA who are looking for cocaine addiction help can find it at our rehab centre.

We offer comprehensive treatment programs that can help you or your loved one recover from this devastating disease. Contact us today to determine the best path to recovery for yourself or your loved ones.

If you are experiencing a medical or life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or your local emergency services immediately.