A cocaine, or coke, addiction, is incredibly devastating, but surprisingly common. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has estimated that some 1.5 million people in this country used cocaine in 2013. For those who suffer with a dependency or addiction, they should realize that help is out there.
How to Speak to Someone Who Uses Cocaine
It is often very intimidating to speak to people about concerns over cocaine abuse, not in the least because they are often very resistant to listening to you, and the fact that they have a tendency to deny that they have a problem. However, interventions, whether professionally organized or not, can be successful. Do remember to remain compassionate and understanding at all times, showing that you support their personal recovery and that you are there to help them. The emphasis should be on help and recovery, even if they were to relapse, and not accusing them of all the bad things they are likely to have done. Simply hearing that someone cares often comes as a tremendous relief to cocaine users.
While you can attempt to speak to people with cocaine addiction on your own, research has shown that those organizing professional interventions through the Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) model have been more successful in their attempts. With CRAFT, you as the interventionist will first meet up with therapists to learn about:
- How you can manage the stress you experience due to your loved one using cocaine
- How you can engage in effective communication
- How you can stop enabling their behavior
- How you can encourage them to seek treatment
Whether or not you use the CRAFT model, you must at all times remember that fighting addiction is hard. Nevertheless, a strong support network can make a huge difference. By being supportive, and having support yourself, you may just encourage someone to recover.
Cocaine Addiction & Recovery
Many addictions are treated with the use of medication. Unfortunately, no medication is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for cocaine addiction. Hence, the focus in cocaine addiction recovery is on effective behavioral techniques. NIDA has completed a lot of research into effective techniques that recommend a combination of:
- Contingency management, or motivational incentives, effectively rewarding users for staying sober
- The Matrix Model, which works especially well on stimulants and includes group and family therapy, relapse prevention, addiction education, and self-help, combined with regular random drug tests
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which teaches strategies to resist temptation and triggers
Cocaine addiction is often treated through outpatient programs. This means attending therapy and lectures, while being able to return home at the same time. However, outpatient treatment is not suitable for people without a strong support network, as it will otherwise be too hard to avoid temptation. In this case, inpatient treatment is likely to be more appropriate.
During inpatient treatment, you will take part in therapy in a more structured environment. You will remain in the facility for as long as your treatment lasts. This process starts with a period of detox, which is medically supported so that you are as comfortable as possible when you experience the withdrawal symptoms, which in the case of cocaine include fatigue, mood swings, and depression.
Upon completion of detox, you will start taking part in therapy (individual, group, and family), as well as attending lectures on cocaine abuse. The goal is to teach you how to live a sober life. For the duration of your stay in rehab, you will be prepared to return to the real world without having to rely on drugs.
Once you complete rehab, treatment isn’t over yet. Aftercare is vital to sustained recovery. Most people transition into some sort of outpatient facility, or sober living home, before returning to their own homes. This makes the transition easier, particularly if the home environment was one in which drug abuse was facilitated.
How Addictive Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a short acting, but very powerful stimulant made from coca leaves. It leaves people feeling euphoric and full of energy. It is a very addictive substance and the potential to abuse it is always present. Cocaine is usually snorted, injected, or smoked. By using it chronically, people can place strain on their heart, as well as being more likely to develop infections, particularly if the drug is used intravenously.
NIDA has stated that, while cocaine is highly addictive, it is very different from other street drugs. When people use cocaine, regardless of how or in which way, they often become unable to experience any kind of pleasure besides using cocaine. Once people stop using cocaine, they often go into withdrawal very quickly, leaving them intensely craving the drug, unable to function normally, and highly depressed.
The greatest danger from cocaine comes from its crack form. This looks like a crystal rock, and is one of the most addictive forms of cocaine. For people who are believed to have a crack addiction, it is imperative that they seek help as soon as possible.
How Cocaine Addiction Affects People
The effects of long term cocaine abuse can lead to a range of health issues, regardless of how or which type is used. These issues include:
- A greater risk of heart problems
- Tissue damage in the nose, particularly in those who snort it
- Weight loss
- Decaying teeth
- Damaged kidneys
- Damage to the lungs, particularly in those who smoke it
When people are addicted to cocaine, it affects every element of their life, how they function, think, and act. Addicted people usually neglect their professional and personal responsibilities. This can lead to many other issues, including financial ones. Personal relationships often break down or become very strained as well.
Determining whether or not you are addicted to cocaine is not difficult to do. In fact, most people who use cocaine are addicted to it to some degree. Most start to suffer from irritability and depression when they stop using the drug, which is a clear sign of a problem. Real addiction happens when the urge to use drugs becomes all consuming. Addicted people are no longer interested in anything that doesn’t revolve around cocaine, because they are no longer able to find enjoyment without it.