Quick Guide: What Is Cocaine Addiction?

Most people are aware of the term ‘addiction’ but they do not really understand the illness or how it affects others. In fact, many do not even see addiction as an illness and instead view it as more of a consequence of immoral behaviour. This type of attitude can lead to discrimination and judgement and can cause harm to the lives of many people. For example, those who have developed a cocaine addiction may be viewed by others as having a moral failing. They may be seen as weak or ‘bad’ and may be judged or looked down on. Failure to understand what illnesses such as cocaine addiction are can prevent those affected from getting the help they need to recover. So, what is cocaine addiction and can it be treated? And why are many individuals unable to see it for what it actually is?

Why Are Addicts Judged?

If you have an addiction to an illegal drug such as cocaine, you may have already encountered a degree of discrimination. Negative stereotyping of addiction has led most people to assume that those affected have a choice or are somehow to blame for their affliction. This is not the case.

It is true that the decision to use cocaine in the first place was made by the affected person, but not everyone who uses this drug will develop an addiction. It is similar to all other mood-altering substances in that some individuals will develop a dependence while others will not.

Addicts have no choice over their illness – nobody would choose to have any type of illness if they could avoid it. It just makes no sense. But most people are unable to see the logic of this because they cannot comprehend that addiction is indeed an illness. However, that is exactly what it is – an illness of the brain.

Continued use of a chemical substance can lead to structural changes in the brain that affect how this organ functions. Those with an addiction to drugs such as cocaine will be unable to make sound decisions. This means that they will continue to use the drug even knowing that to do so will have harmful consequences.

The negative portrayal of addicts in the media has resulted in most members of the public having a distorted opinion of what addicted individuals act and look like. The affected persons are viewed as immoral, and when it comes to drug addicts in particular, these are often seen as criminals or lowlifes. This is what leads to judgement and discrimination and often prevents those with addiction from reaching out for help. The affected person will fear that he or she will be thought poorly of and so would rather pretend that nothing is happening.

Why is Cocaine So Addictive?

Cocaine is a very potent drug that can easily lead to crippling addictions for many users. While there are some who can use it recreationally, most will quickly find themselves on the slippery slope to addiction.

As cocaine produces intense feelings of pleasure for the user, the temptation to use the drug again and again can be strong. And because the pleasurable effects of the drug wear off very quickly and are followed by a crashing comedown, many cocaine users will continue taking the drug until they have none left or until they are physically exhausted and collapse.

Users quickly learn that the best way to avoid the crashing comedown is to take more of the drug, and this continued cycle inevitably leads to addiction for many individuals.

How Does Cocaine Affect the User?

The immediate effects of cocaine can be very powerful and intense. Users tend to feel very confident, alert, and euphoric. They may feel so confident that they will take unnecessary risks, putting themselves and others in danger.

Cocaine causes body temperature to rise and may result in a rapid heartbeat. Users usually experience a loss of appetite and a reduced need for sleep. This is what makes it such a popular party drug.

Since cocaine is such a powerful stimulant drug, it can place a massive strain on the heart and can lead to damage that could result in heart attacks or cardiac failure.

Signs and Symptoms

There are many signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect someone you love is abusing cocaine. For example, the affected person may be increasingly agitated, or swing from being euphoric to depressed within a very short space of time.

Those who take the drug often become over-confident to the point of being aggressive and confrontational. This person may believe that he or she can take on the world and that no one can stop them. When they have been using the drug for a while, they may start to show signs of paranoia and anxiety.

Users tend to appear excited and have an abundance of energy. They may have dilated pupils or cracked lips from smoking the drug. Those who snort it may frequently rub their nose or may have white powdery residue around their nostrils.

Can a Cocaine Addiction be Treated?

A cocaine addiction is difficult to treat, particularly because most cocaine users will also abuse other substances such as alcohol or sedative drugs that serve to take the edge off the jitteriness the cocaine causes.

Detox programmes can be complicated when the user is struggling with both cocaine and alcohol addiction; as such, it should be carried out in a supervised facility. The patient will have to withdraw from all substances and this can be a complex procedure, so being under the careful supervision of medical staff can ensure the safety of the individual at all times.

Once the affected person has stopped taking the drug and any other substances, he or she will experience a crash similar to the type experienced after a cocaine binge. Patients tend to feel extremely unhappy and depressed and may lose their appetite and become quite agitated.

Strong cravings for the drug often make users desperate to quit their detox. As the days pass, they will become less agitated and will instead feel extremely tired. Despite suffering with fatigue, the individual will usually be unable to sleep, which can lead to exhaustion.

After about three or four days, the body is finally able to get some rest and cravings have, for the most part, subsided. Nevertheless, once the body is rested and agitation is at minimum, strong cravings tend to return by the end of the first week. It is these strong and intense cravings that often cause recovering cocaine addicts to return to the drug.


A real desire to change and a motivation to succeed are required by those who want to overcome a cocaine addiction. With strong cravings that can continue for weeks and which can suddenly appear out of nowhere months or years after a detox, the temptation to use again can be very strong.

It is necessary to complete a drug detox to break the physical bond, but it is also vital that the patient continue with a programme of rehabilitation. Rehab is designed to tackle the psychological issues relating to the illness, issues that are not addressed during the detox.

Patients have a choice of inpatient or outpatient programme when it comes to rehab treatment, but it is generally accepted that those who want a successful recovery from a cocaine addiction should consider an inpatient programme where there will be no access to temptations or triggers.

Inpatient programmes are typically provided by private clinics and run for around six to eight weeks. For the duration of the programme, the affected person will stay in the clinic and will spend most of each day in treatment. He or she can expect to take part in individual counselling, group therapy sessions, life skills seminars and relapse prevention workshops. The staff at the clinic may also use various holistic therapies such as sports and nutrition, art therapy, massage, acupuncture, and yoga to help heal the mind, body, and spirit. Using holistic therapies in conjunction with traditional therapies has proven to be effective in helping addicts to recover from addiction.

An outpatient treatment programme can be difficult for those who want to overcome a cocaine addiction because the addict will still have to get on with everyday life while also trying to stay clean and sober. That being said, not every cocaine addict will be in a position to enter an inpatient programme. Recovering addicts will need a strong support network in place at home if they are to have a successful recovery with an outpatient programme.

If you would like more information about what is cocaine addiction and how to overcome it, please contact us here at Addiction Helper today. We can provide helpful advice about the process of detox and rehabilitation and can put you in touch with a treatment provider in your area where you will get the help you need to get better.

We have a number of advisors who have managed to overcome addiction themselves and who are now dedicated to helping others do the same. They can provide you with first-hand details of how they managed to get clean and sober. Please call today for more information.

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