Cocaine Addiction, Effects And Cure

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Cocaine is a drug with very harmful effects on physical and mental health and a great capacity to cause addiction in consumers.

What is cocaine addiction?

Woman snorting cocaine
The consumption of cocaine causes a quick and momentary euphoria, accompanied by a fictitious sense of well-being and hypervigilance.

Cocaine is a drug  belonging to the group of psychoactive substances , i.e producing direct stimulatory effects on the central nervous system, mainly on the brain . Among its distinguishing characteristics is its high capacity to cause great dependency, so that even when taken in small doses, can generate a terrible addiction; another of its effects is a rapid tolerance to the dose, so the consumer tends to consume more and more quantity of the substance to achieve the same results, without the individual being aware that this starts the cycle of toxicity that accompanies the addiction to the cocaine

It is a drug especially harmful to health, both physical and mental, even when taken in small doses, however, the effects worsens when consumed in a larger quantity thus extending its consequences beyond the personal scope, affecting also the consumer, his family and friends. As it is a stimulating substance it provokes in the consumer a quick and momentary euphoria, accompanied by a fictitious sensation of well-being and hypervigilance, which causes the subject to be more energetic and experience a decrease in appetite and the need to sleep, as a result of the chemical stimulation of the dopaminergic pathways of the pleasure centers of the brain, while inhibiting the centers of self-regulation, making it easier to present uninhibited behaviors , which can put at risk the very life of the consumer, or that of others if, for example, they drive a vehicle under the influence of the drug.

The cocaine causes overstimulation of the body , an increase in heartbeat, blood pressure and body temperature and, depending on the amount of drug, you can also trigger anxiety, tremor, irritability, paranoia and violent behavior. After a short period of time, ranging from a few minutes to an hour after consumption of the substance, the opposite effect occurs, a strong fall of mood accompanied by apathy, which has been equated to drastically entering a state depressant.

Although the idea is not generalized in all consumers, younger people often share the belief that it is a sexual drug, with effects similar to viagra, which encourages them to try it and start regular consumption, with the added aggravation Many people mix it with alcohol or other toxic substances, which makes treatment even more difficult.

Causes and consequences of cocaine addiction

A young couple laughs after using cocaine
The feeling of euphoria caused by cocaine lasts little, so the addict needs to re-consume to maintain that fictitious state of well-being.

One of the main causes of cocaine addiction is that the short duration of the euphoric sensation that causes its consumption and the subsequent strong emotional fall, make the consumer feel the need to return to consume to maintain that fictitious state of well-being and it favors that it is hooked to the substance; thus, the more you consume, the more you will need to continue to do so, even knowing that its effects are banal and temporary.

The repeated administration of dopamine in the brain and the stimulation of pleasure centers , make the effectiveness of other forms of gratification progressively lost. This addiction will also be accompanied by two harmful consequences, the first is a tolerance to the drug , which means that each time, a higher dose is needed to obtain the same results, and the second one a sensitization to the toxic effects of the drug. , that is to say, that the individual will feel with greater intensity tachycardias, tremors and attacks of anxiety

With regard to the psychological and social aspects, the causes of cocaine addiction are very varied, being able to initiate their consumption accidentally or sporadically within the framework of a social environment favorable to the consumption of these substances, or due to a stressful work that demands higher levels of attention and performance.

Consequences of cocaine addiction

Among the chronic consequences of cocaine consumption is the drastic decrease in appetite, which will cause a restriction in intake and, therefore, a significant loss of weight , paranoid episodes may also occur , with auditory hallucinations , along with a loss of the meaning of reality. In addition, and depending on the mode of use of the drug, it will also have important physical consequences due to its effects of overexcitation of the blood system.

Precisely because of these effects of hypervigilance is why the consumption of this drug was extended among the top executives of large companies during the eighties, which justified themselves by the need to perform beyond their means. that cocaine allowed them to spend periods without the need to eat or sleep and with great lucidity ; Some seemingly desirable effects, but they had pernicious consequences for health.

Effects of cocaine addiction

A young cocaine snob, with whom the word HELP has been formed (help in English)
The cocaine addict experiences a false sense of control and tells himself he can quit the drug whenever he wants.

At this point we will distinguish between the effects that the person will suffer due to his addiction to cocaine , both during consumption and at moments after it, and the manifestations that are going to be more evident to family and friends, and that can affect them and help to realize that something is not going well.

With regard to the former, in previous sections the effects of hyperactivation and false euphoria caused by the use of this drug are described , which significantly increases the risk of suffering coronary problems due to the overexcitation of the organism , and which can lead to a heart attack ; subsequently, the body will suffer from severe depression.

As in any other addiction, the consumer will change their way of thinking and acting, devoting more and more time, effort and money to the acquisition and consumption of the addictive substance. In addition, being an illegal drug, he/she will buy and consume it in secret, or in restricted environments together with other consumers, and usually without the knowledge of their spouses, family and friends, to avoid being judged. Despite the false belief of control that the addict experiences – who says to himself ‘I can leave this when I want’ – the addiction is getting bigger.

By changing the priorities of the consumer, and being increasingly evident the negative effects of irritability, anxiety, or paranoia, the quality of interpersonal and work relationships will worsen. There may be a time when the money to purchase this substance will be scarce or not forthcoming, then the need to borrow or even steal, in order to get the dose will arise.

The cocaine addict is hardly going to accept that he has a problem of addiction to a substance that gives him so much pleasure , and meanwhile social deterioration can lead to separation or divorce, loss of custody of children, and even dismissal; everything for which he has fought so much is eluding him with every dose he consumes.

Effects of cocaine observed by people around the addict

The first ones to realize that a person suffers from cocaine addiction are precisely those with whom he shares this practice because they observe that he increasingly needs a greater amount of drugs and consumes more frequently.

Mood swings due to cocaine addiction
Sudden changes in mood may be evident in cocaine addicts.

The people with whom they live can detect from the first moments certain effects associated with drug use such as mood swings , irritability, or their lies to sneak out to acquire the substance. Family and friends who do not live with the addict will hardly realize the changes they are experiencing because they will try by all means to hide their problem and give an appearance of normality and false control of the situation.

In any case, when they begin to detect the first symptoms of mood disturbances, isolation, change of habits of eating behavior, or increase in false excuses to go out with friends, it is time to have a conversation about it . In case the person refuses to talk about the subject, it would be convenient for a third person to intervene, a health professional such as the family doctor, who can study the situation more closely and determine if it is a temporary problem or something chronic .

The health professional, looking at his background and what the couple or family members can tell him, can request a toxicological examination to confirm or rule out suspicions of drug use and, if positive, refer the specialist to addictions for to provide you with the appropriate treatment. During this process the person who suffers addiction, will usually deny that they have consumed, and when the drug test shows it will deny being addicted and will argue that it can be left at any time, a negative behavior that will only lengthen the identification of the problem and the search of an appropriate treatment.

Advice For Relatives Of Cocaine Addicts

If you are a relative or friend of a cocaine addict these tips will help you to help them quit their addiction :

  • If you suspect that your son or partner may be using some kind of drug , try to talk about it with him or her, and if you find it impossible to keep this conversation try to get a professional to explore this possibility.
  • It must be taken into account that the treatment must be carried out in a specialized center by qualified personnel. There is no point in trying undermine the problem and you should be aware that the longer you keep this situation without receiving professional help, the more difficult their recovery will be.
  • Do not underestimate the problem of drugs; it is not something that can be abandoned at any time you or the addicted person wants, if there is an addiction, it must be treated to overcome it.
  • Do not look for culprits either in the addicted person or in the family for allowing it; When there is a problem, we must focus on finding the solution.
  • Sometimes professional help is not sought for the modesty or embarrassment of having a child or a couple addicted to drugs, we must put aside that feeling and request the intervention of a specialist.
  • Keep a positive but very active attitude, since the drug can be stopped, but you have to work for it, and the amount of efforts you will make depends on how long the person has been consuming the drug.

Psychological treatment of cocaine addiction

A young man listens to the instructions of his psychologist
Cocaine addiction should be handled by a specialist who oversees the process and helps prevent possible relapse.

Like any drug detoxification treatment , cocaine addiction should be handled by a specialist who oversees the process and, above all, help prevent a possible relapse, something very common in the case of this substance, which contributes dopamine to the brain , and whose phase of abstinence is especially difficult and is accompanied by experiences of the euphoric phase of tremors, irritability, anxious states, and the effects of the drug in the later depressive phase, with drowsiness, decay and exhaustion.

The treatment must be carried out in specialized centers and, sometimes, it requires the internment of the patient in order to change their environment, reeducate their life habits, and help them recover the scale of values ​​that they have been losing with dependency.

The effects of physical abstinence are transient, but not psychological withdrawal , responsible for the high rate of relapse, due to the amount of false beliefs and self-lies that have been told and believed by the person through out the addiction process : ‘I can not imagine a night of partying without cocaine’, ‘I need it to be a thousand for a thousand’, ‘this I can leave when I want’.

The psychological therapy is going to be oriented in the first place to that the person manages to leave the addiction, and for it techniques like:

  • Behavioral techniques directed to the detoxification and to break the ties with the places and people that have aroused and accompanied him in the use of cocaine, in order to prevent future relapses.
  • Techniques of cognitive restructuring , through which the person is taught to realize the thoughts and incorrect ideas of the type ‘I need the drug to feel good’ or ‘I can not live without the drug’, for once identified change this way of thinking by positive and correct thoughts such as ‘I can live and enjoy without using drugs’ or ‘I am the one who decides about my life’.
  • Techniques to control frustration , since it is precisely the immediacy of the false pleasure of cocaine that has made it so addictive, that is why the person must learn to wait, to strive to achieve goals, and sometimes to not achieve it, as happens in everyday life with what we want.
  • Relaxation techniques , due to the high levels of anxiety experienced by these people, and that will reflect both in their way of thinking and behaving with others, so it requires a reeducation to be consistent with the situation.
  • Techniques of Emotional Intelligence, because the person has experienced many emotional changes associated with cocaine use and often has the belief that their body is a lack of control, so it is necessary to teach them to detect when emotional disturbances occur and how to compensate them to adapt them to every moment     

These therapies will entail, both individual training sessions, as group therapy and, when the psychologist considers it, including family therapy, all with the aim of understanding and learning to live without drugs.

Addicted person in psychological treatment
There are several psychological techniques that can help the addict to reengage in society.

Second phase of the psychological treatment of cocaine addiction

In a second phase of psychological treatment techniques are used to put the person through everyday life, leaving behind the addiction and all the negative consequences that dependence on the drug has brought on his life, for which techniques such as :

  • Self-esteem techniques , since the person once detoxified realizes all the pain he has caused in others and feels bad about it; In addition, when there are external sequelae of their addiction, their self-image decreases, so we must work to balance it and the person has the tools to face the day to day.
  • Reintegration techniques , especially in chronic cases, where the person has spent so much time with his addiction that he has lost his job and it has become outdated, so it is necessary to help him recover his work status without putting him at risk of relapse into consumption.

It is a slow recovery , which can extend up to a year after the decision to quit cocaine addiction. In addition, this psychological therapy will be accompanied by the intervention of other professionals such as a work counselor, to complement the work of getting the reintegration of the person who has left his addiction behind. Throughout this process, the couple and the family will play a prominent role as support for the therapy, since without it the person who detoxifies will probably lose the sense of their effort and will relapse into consumption.

An added difficulty is when the addicted person has also been consuming other types of toxic substances or alcohol, as this will make him have to pass the abstinence to these substances at the same time he does cocaine, which will worsen the prognosis of the treatment. Sometimes, once the addiction is over, people need to undergo surgery to solve the problems associated with the habitual consumption of cocaine, in cases where the physical consequences are reversible.

Despite the difficulties that it entails, the positive message that both the person addicted to cocaine and their family members must know is that with proper treatment, drugs can be overcome and this addiction to cocaine situation will be no different.

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