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cocaine addiction treatment

The Real Details of Cocaine Addiction Treatment

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Cocaine addiction treatment can help you not just stop using the stimulant drug. When you participate in cocaine addiction treatment, you can regain control of your life and behavior. You can work through other co-occurring disorders, mentally and physically. 

A treatment program for cocaine use disorder can help you develop effective coping mechanisms, rebuild relationships, and move toward a productive, thriving life in recovery.


The Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine is a potent stimulant that comes from a type of coca plant. 

  • You might snort cocaine when it’s in powder form. 
  • There’s also crack cocaine, which is usually smoked. 
  • Cocaine can be injected into the veins or muscles as well, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

When you use cocaine, you might experience a euphoric, intense high, although it’s short-lived. Cocaine can also be highly addictive.

  • When you smoke or intravenously inject cocaine, it reaches your brain rapidly. You can feel the short-term effects in seconds.
  • When you snort cocaine, there’s a slower build-up in the brain, so it may take longer to feel the effects.
  • Cocaine tolerance tends to occur quickly, leading many people to use more significant doses to try and chase the high they initially felt when using the drug. 
  • Following the euphoric rush or high, you might experience a crash. 
  • A stimulant crash includes depression and mental and physical exhaustion.

Long-term effects of cocaine can lead to high blood pressure, increases in your heart rate, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Over time, ongoing cocaine use contributes to other adverse effects like ischemic heart conditions, irregular heartbeat, sudden cardiac arrest, strokes, and death.

The high you get from cocaine results from the drug’s mechanisms of action on dopamine levels, primarily. Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter. Dopamine’s responsible for euphoric emotions, processing reward cues, and movement regulations.

Effects of cocaine use in the short-term can include:

  • Extreme enthusiasm
  • Lack of inhibition
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increases in movement
  • Involuntary movement like muscle tics
  • Concentration and focus changes
  • Agitation
  • Physical effects like a runny nose 
  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Aggression
  • Impaired judgment
  • Withdrawal symptoms during abstinence from cocaine use 

After trying cocaine only a few times, it’s possible to develop an addiction because of its effects on dopamine levels. Cocaine also affects other brain neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine in the short-term and more so in chronic cocaine users. 


Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction can cause:

  • Tolerance to cocaine, meaning you use more significant amounts and need more to get high
  • Inability to reduce or stop the drug
  • Symptoms of withdrawal if you stop
  • Continuing to use cocaine despite known health complications
  • Negative effects on your quality of life, including your job and relationships
  • You spend an excessive amount of time trying to get cocaine, using it, and recovering from its effects
  • Hallucinations and psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Disappearing to binge on cocaine
  • Effects of cocaine withdrawal if you do stop using it
  • Experiencing a strong cocaine craving when you don’t use the substance 



Treatments for Cocaine Dependence 

Cocaine addiction treatment can include behavioral treatment, medications, and alternative therapy. Treatment should address drug dependence and any other co-occurring mental or physical health conditions. 


Behavioral Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one type of behavioral therapy most often used to treat cocaine addiction. CBT is also helpful for other addictions to drugs and alcohol. CBT was originally designed as a way to help prevent relapse in alcohol addiction.

With CBT, you focus on negative behavioral patterns such as substance abuse and how your learning processes play a role in those behaviors.There are elements of psychosocial treatments that are part of CBT. 

Working with a skilled CBT treatment provider can help you identify and then change problematic behaviors. You can learn to apply various skills in your life to stop using cocaine and other substances. CBT is helpful to deal with the symptoms of other co-occurring mental health disorders too.

CBT hinges on the concept of anticipating problems and then building self-control through the development of coping strategies. For example, you might work with a therapist to learn about the positive and negative effects of continual drug use. You can learn how to identify cravings early on and scenarios that might put you at risk for drug use.



There aren’t currently any medications approved specifically for the treatment of cocaine addiction. However, some medicines can broadly be helpful when you’re receiving treatment. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are examples.

Currently, researchers are looking at how cocaine affects the brain and ways they could target those effects to develop medications for addiction. Hopefully, there will be promising results to come out of clinical trials. 


Alternative Therapies

When you receive treatment for cocaine addiction, you’re likely to participate in alternative therapies. These can vary depending on your program and treatment plan. Alternative therapies are a helpful part of addiction treatment because they’re holistic.

We’re all complex, multi-faceted people. You’re more than your addiction. The goal of any treatment program should be to address all of your unique needs and to help you return to your life productively so you can thrive.

Alternative therapies can include nutritional counseling, exercise, yoga, animal therapy, and more.


Types of Cocaine Addiction Treatment Programs

The first step if you’re using cocaine is to talk to a health care provider or someone at a treatment center. They can go over your symptoms and use history. 

Then, after learning more, they can diagnose your addiction.

Addictions are diagnosed based on a set of medical criteria. A substance use disorder can also be diagnosed as mild,  moderate, or severe, depending on how many symptoms you have.

From there, you can begin to explore treatment options for this addictive drug. 

If you’re physically dependent on cocaine or other substances, you may need a supervised detox. During supervised detox, you can go through withdrawal safely with medical monitoring. If you need medications for any of your severe cocaine withdrawal symptoms, your medical team can provide them during the treatment of cocaine dependence. 

From there, you might move into either inpatient care or outpatient rehab.

  • Inpatient rehab or residential treatment programs can last anywhere from 28 to 90 days for most people, and sometimes longer. You live in a residential treatment facility that’s safe and secure. The benefits of inpatient rehab include being surrounded by support, and you’re away from your environment of cocaine misuse. These effective treatments allow you to leave triggers, including people, places, and things while focusing on your treatment.
  • Outpatient rehab is less rigorous among the treatments for cocaine addiction but can vary in intensity and time commitments. You might begin with outpatient rehab if you’ve only been using cocaine for a short time or have a relatively mild addiction. Some people go to inpatient rehab first, and when they’re ready, step down into outpatient rehab.
  • Following inpatient or outpatient rehab, you should have a formal aftercare plan that you work on with your treatment team. This will outline what you’ll do to remain in recovery from cocaine and any other substance use disorder. For example, you might participate in a 12-step program like Cocaine Anonymous with other people in recovery and continue behavioral therapy.

Overall, what you can specifically expect as far as cocaine addiction treatment depends a lot on the program you go to, but even more than your individual needs. Treatment should be holistic. Any addiction treatment plan needs to account for your unique needs.

If you’d like to learn more about tailored treatment for cocaine dependence and addiction, please call 800-630-1218 and reach out to The Right Time Recovery team.