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8/19/16 at 02:49 AM 0 Comments

Understanding cocaine addiction and the benefits of inpatient treatment

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Cocaine continues to be one of the most commonly used illegal drugs. It is used in all stratas of society from college campuses to suburbia. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, cocaine use has remained relatively stable since 2009. In 2014 there were an estimated 1.5 million current (past month) cocaine users aged 12 or older (0.6 percent of the population).

Adults aged 18 to 25 years have a higher rate of current cocaine use than any other age group, with 1.4 percent of young adults reporting past month cocaine use.

How cocaine works

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that may be snorted, inhaled, smoked or injected. Within the brain, cocaine inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin, epinephrine and dopamine, which means that while under the influence of cocaine, there is a higher amount of these neurotransmitters in the brain at any given time. The addictive quality of the drug comes from its effect on the reward system in the brain. This corresponds directly to dopamine levels in the brain. Specifically, taking the drug causes a buildup of dopamine, creating a pleasurable feeling of euphoria and the craving to use the drug again.

What exactly does cocaine do?

What do these things happening in the brain mean for the user's thoughts, feelings and behaviors? Initially, cocaine causes euphoria and feelings of high energy and happiness for a short period of time. However, users also experience symptoms such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Long-time users report experiencing manic states, aggression, paranoia, tactile hallucinations, and withdrawal. Due to the cardiovascular and neurological changes caused by the drug, cocaine users are at higher risk for:

  • Brain damage

  • Stroke

  • Heart attack

Prolonged use as well as large doses or overdose may produce these adverse effects.

Addiction and treatment

Due to cocaine's addictive quality, dependence may occur after using for only a short period of time and tolerance to the drug builds quickly. It is important for users to receive professional help as soon as possible. The sooner treatment begins, the better the result can be. In substance use disorders, including cocaine, behavioral therapies have been found to be an effective form of treatment.

The benefits of inpatient mental health treatment

Most medical professionals recommend residential treatment centers for treating cocaine use. This provides a patient with round-the-clock psychological and medical support and resources. As soon as detox is accomplished, treatment can begin. If there are any underlying mental health disorders they can be treated concurrently and doing so ensures the most successful treatment outcome.

The combination of medical and psychological treatment provided by a residential treatment center provides a patient the care and skills necessary to overcome cocaine addiction without external distractions. They will be in a healing, supportive environment throughout their stay. Therapists provide coping skills and tools that patients can call upon post-treatment when they are back in their home environment.

Cocaine use, like all substance use problems is a complex condition that requires an expert treatment approach. It is difficult to overcome this addiction without the proper treatment due to the drug's highly addictive quality. Leaving the addiction untreated can be dangerous, even life threatening, so it is of the utmost importance that treatment begin as soon as possible.

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