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How To Recover From Cocaine Abuse

Joseph Sitarik, DO

Medically reviewed by

Joseph Sitarik, DO

February 12, 2019

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that can ruin lives and wreak havoc on an individual’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Recovering from cocaine abuse and addiction is possible and may include a detox program, inpatient treatment, and aftercare.

If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse and addiction, it’s important to know that there is help available. Recovering from cocaine abuse can help a person regain his or her life back and prevent potential physical, mental, and emotional health problems.

Cocaine is an incredibly powerful stimulant drug that is highly addictive and potentially dangerous. This substance is one of the most commonly abused illicit drugs on the market, with a reported 1.5 million people using cocaine monthly in the United States.

Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug for its high potential of abuse. It is available in fine, white powder or in a crystal form. In its crystal form, cocaine is known as “crack.” Cocaine is abused by snorting, injecting, or smoking the drug.

Cocaine addiction can have detrimental effects on a person’s mental, physical, and emotional health. Luckily, there are many options available when it comes to recovering from cocaine abuse and addiction.

Why Do People Abuse Cocaine?

Cocaine works by entering the bloodstream and traveling to the brain, where it causes excess dopamine to be produced. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with the reward system in the brain. By flooding the brain with dopamine, cocaine produces feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and alertness.

The more a person uses cocaine, the more the brain becomes dependent on the drug to produce dopamine. Without the drug, the brain produces less dopamine, leaving individuals feeling depressed and lethargic. This can lead people to use more of the drug to feel better.

People who abuse cocaine can also build up a tolerance to the drug. This means that they will need to take more of the drug to feel the desired effects. The more cocaine a person uses, the more likely he or she is to become addicted to the drug.

Recovering From Cocaine Abuse And Addiction

Because of the highly addictive nature of cocaine, many people who abuse the drug will need a formal treatment program to overcome addiction. Cocaine causes changes within the brain and body that can make recovery difficult without professional help.

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Medically Supervised Detox Program

While cocaine has a more mild detoxification process compared to some drugs, attending a medically monitored detox program is still advised for those addicted to cocaine. A detox program can provide support and any needed medical assistance throughout the withdrawal process.

Detoxing from cocaine typically takes between three to 10 days depending on the severity of the addiction and frequency of use. Withdrawal symptoms during this time may include:

  • intense cravings for the drug
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • trouble sleeping
  • depression
  • lack of pleasure
  • paranoia

While there are no physical withdrawal symptoms, such as vomiting or tremors, detoxing from cocaine can still be incredibly uncomfortable. A medically monitored detox program can provide comfort, security, and a safe environment free of temptation.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

After the successful completion of a medically supervised detox program, most people will need to attend a formal treatment program to successfully overcome a cocaine addiction. The most common form of treatment is an inpatient addiction program.

Inpatient treatment programs provide intensive and daily addiction treatment to help patients overcome substance use disorders. This type of program requires people to live residentially at the rehab facility for an extended period of time, usually between 30 and 90 days.

Residential cocaine addiction programs often offer individualized plans of recovery that are specific to each person’s level of addiction and needs.

An inpatient recovery plan may include:

  • group and/or individual therapy
  • relapse prevention
  • extracurricular activities such as exercise
  • 12-step meetings
  • alternative therapies such as art therapy and animal therapy
  • medication management
  • family counseling
  • addiction education

Inpatient treatment programs are often considered the most effective form of treatment for addiction and offer a safe and drug-free environment in which to recover.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Another treatment option for cocaine addiction is an outpatient treatment program. Outpatient treatment programs are often recommended for those with a less severe addiction or people who cannot take time off from responsibilities such as family and work.

Outpatient treatment programs allow patients to continue to live at home while receiving treatment.

Some of the most common forms of outpatient treatment for cocaine abuse and addiction include:

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)

PHPs are the most intensive form of outpatient treatment programs for cocaine addiction. They offer intensive treatment on an outpatient basis and require patients to attend the program every day for several hours.

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP)

IOPs are a step down in intensity from partial hospitalization programs and require patients to attend treatment several times a week. IOPs can also be used as a form of aftercare once a person has completed an inpatient program.

Support groups

Support groups offer fellowship and support for those recovering from addiction. Common support groups include 12-step communities such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and non-12-step programs like Celebrate Recovery.

Life After Cocaine Abuse And Addiction

Recovery from cocaine addiction is a lifelong process. Once a person successfully completes a treatment program, he or she will need to develop a sober community and way of life.

Some people choose to live in a sober living home after treatment. These homes offer structure and support as well as a drug-free living environment where people can get back on their feet and focus on recovery.

Additionally, attending support groups such as Cocaine Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous can help people stay accountable and build relationships with others in recovery.

It’s important for those recovering from cocaine addiction to remain diligent in their program of recovery. Getting sober and attending a treatment program are just the first steps in overcoming cocaine abuse and addiction.

If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse, contact our treatment specialists today to explore your options for beginning your path to a drug-free life.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States?

National Institute on Drug Abuse - How does cocaine produce its effects?

National Institute on Drug Abuse - How is cocaine addiction treated?

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