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Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that can cause addicts to continue seeking and using drugs like cocaine without regard for negative consequences to their life or health. Addiction is considered a brain disease due to the way chronic drug use can legitimately change the brain’s structure and compromise its function. Changes made to the brain on behalf of addiction can be severe enough to last for the remainder of an addict’s life. Furthermore, these changes can cause addicts to make very unwise decisions about drug use and other equally unsafe behaviors.
Until people realize that their reasoning abilities have been compromised by the effects of cocaine, getting help for cocaine addiction may seem unnecessary. Instead of waiting for cocaine to destroy your life, consider the benefits of getting cocaine addiction help.
How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?
Professional help and treatment may be what you need to overcome a cocaine addiction. Cocaine produces an extreme sense of euphoria, joy, and bliss by stimulating certain areas of the brain and causing the release of several chemicals, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. With ongoing cocaine use, brain cells become unable to produce these chemicals on their own. Following euphoria is an emotional and physical crash, and the immediate need to use the drug again. People who use cocaine tend to keep using it repeatedly in the same session to avoid the crash.
In a study conducted by the University of Cambridge, the brains of 120 cocaine addicts were scanned to determine the effects of cocaine on grey brain matter. Results showed a widespread loss of grey matter that corresponded with the length of time each person used cocaine. Cocaine addiction is not only shown to alter brain function but also changes its overall structure and physiology.
These effects of cocaine on the brain are why it’s so difficult for many long-term users to stop using on their own. Cocaine treatment programs specialize in helping addicts recover from the damaging effects of cocaine on the body, as well as the damage this drug has caused in their lives. Considering the condition the brain is left in by the time a person is ready to stop using; addicts fight a self-defeating battle ripe with frustration and considerable risk. But getting cocaine addiction help can stop the brain from sustaining further damage from addiction.
What are the Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?
Those who stop using cocaine abruptly or in smaller amounts may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Deep and lasting depression sometimes resulting in relapse, overdose, and suicide
- Fatigue, feeling heavy or too tired to move your limbs
- Vivid nightmares
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Extreme restlessness
- Twitching or an inability to sit still
Once the initial stage of cocaine withdrawal is over, some may go on to suffer post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This sudden recurrence of cravings and withdrawal symptoms can last for up to days, weeks, months, and in rare cases, years after the initial withdrawal. During post-acute withdrawal, many users fall into relapse. However, the intensity of symptoms and cravings can be controlled with proper treatment and therapy.
Can I Treat Myself for Cocaine Addiction?
Going through cocaine withdrawal is one of the greatest challenges associated with getting off the drug. Some people who go through cocaine withdrawal try to relieve symptoms on their own using alcohol or anti-anxiety medications such as Valium. While using these substances may help relieve withdrawal symptoms, those who self-medicate may quickly find themselves trading one addiction for another.
Cocaine addiction treatment may involve the use of medication therapies designed to relieve withdrawal symptoms without posing a risk for addiction. Cocaine treatment also helps recovering addicts work through the emotional and psychological issues driving the addiction cycle.
What is Cocaine’s Relapse Potential?
Those who suffer from cocaine addiction face a high risk for relapse — including those who have been off the drug for a long time. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue and depression can make it difficult for those in recovery to stay sober without professional treatment. Cravings also play a major role in relapse potential — especially for those addicted to crack, given crack produces a withdrawal symptom called anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure.
Is Cocaine Treatment Really Necessary?
Cocaine addiction treatment programs provide the ongoing medical care and support needed to overcome drug cravings and maintain abstinence. Many cocaine addiction treatment programs also offer therapy for depression and anxiety disorders, which are common cocaine withdrawal symptoms.
Cocaine has always been viewed as more likely to cause less intense addiction syndrome than other drugs. However, this is not true. For someone who is beginning to recognize cocaine addiction signs in either themselves or a loved one, there are specific steps to take to solve the issue safely and effectively.
- Step one: admit there is a problem. If you experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms whenever you stop using this drug, you need to admit that you are addicted.
- Step two: attend a rehab program. Going to cocaine rehab can help you overcome physical dependence and psychological addiction.
- Step three: explore the issue of co-occurring disorders. Fifty percent of all people addicted to cocaine also have a mental disorder that requires treatment for co-occurring disorders.
- Step four: transition into aftercare. Aftercare programs help ensure your recovery continues after treatment ends.