Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a stimulant that excites the pleasure center in your brain. Users experience a high followed by an inevitable crash. Cocaine abuse and its accompanying withdrawal symptoms often lead to emergency room visits. Cocaine abuse signs include hostility, paranoia and hallucinations.

What is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine is a highly addictive powdery substance. It can be snorted into the nose, placed inside body orifices, injected or smoked. A similar drug called crack cocaine is formed when powdered cocaine mixes with baking soda or ammonia, creating hard ‘rock’.

Common slang terms for cocaine include “coke,” “big C,” “blow,” “dust,” “snow” and “line.” The slang terms for crack cocaine include “rock candy,” “candy,” “ball,” “base” and “rocks.”

Of all the illicit drugs, cocaine accounts for the most visits to the emergency department. This is due to the adverse effects of abuse or withdrawal from the drug. Both cocaine and crack cocaine are highly addictive with a high degree of dependence among addicts.

Because cocaine has a short half-life, its effects last only about a half an hour or less. Smoking crack cocaine is the fastest way to get the drug to the brain, with injection being the second fastest way.

The majority of cocaine users smoke crack cocaine. It acts on the body by blocking the recycling of dopamine. This gives users a temporary burst of excitability and pleasure-related cell activity in the brain. After the short high comes the crash. This leads to an increased need for food and sleep after coming off the drug.

Cocaine Addiction Signs & Symptoms

  • Noticeable white powder around the nose and mouth
  • Burn marks on the hands
  • Needle marks over the veins
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in sleeping and eating behaviors
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Engaging in risk-taking behaviors (including sexual behaviors)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nosebleeds or a runny nose (from snorting the drug)
  • Violent behavior
  • Anger outbursts
  • Hostile mood
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Treatment for cocaine abuse is possible. There are no FDA-approved medications available for cocaine withdrawal or addiction, although Disulfiram does work on some addicts trying to quit. However, researchers are studying various treatment options, including a vaccine used to prevent cocaine abuse relapse.

Celebrities like Demi Lovato, Lindsay Lohan and Lady Gaga have all beat cocaine abuse.

There are many behavioral and cognitive treatments for cocaine addiction. Contingency management uses a reward system to help addicts stay away from cocaine. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps individuals recognize the patterns of their abuse. It also teaches them to avoid situations where abuse might be more likely to happen.

Author:Kent Hoffman
Kent Hoffman

Kent Hoffman, D.O. has been practicing medicine for nearly 30 years. He is board-certified to practice addiction medicine and family medicine. Dr. Hoffman gets to know his patients on a first-name basis to provide compassionate and professional health care.

Last modified: 01/14/2019