Drug addiction is a dangerous problem that affects millions of people around the world. Cocaine, much like other stimulants, can cause serious physical and psychological dependence that can be both difficult to treat and overcome. Thinking about the answer to the question, “is cocaine physically addictive?” can be tough to do unless you’ve personally experienced this addiction yourself.
Signs of Cocaine Withdrawal
Cocaine withdrawal is a common problem among people who abuse cocaine regularly or repeatedly. Cocaine withdrawal syndrome is one of the first known signs of addiction and can be the most challenging side effect of addiction to cope with. Those who cut back on use can experience mild to severe cocaine withdrawal symptoms.
Common signs of cocaine withdrawal include:
- inability to feel pleasure
Understanding Addiction & the Brain
In recent years, scientists have clearly outlined what it is that causes addiction. Structural and functional changes that occur within the brain are now seen as the cause of addiction. Repeat use of drugs such as cocaine can cause lasting changes in brain function that are difficult to reverse without treatment. An estimated 2 million cocaine addicts have learned the hard way that chemical changes in the brain that occur on behalf of cocaine use can be difficult to overcome or to heal from even when there is a strong desire to make positive change.
Cocaine and Depression
As soon as you stop taking cocaine, your brain will enter a state of depression. Many addiction recovery centers offer treatment for depression and other mental health disorders since these are common drug withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of depression can include:
- Feeling sad or anxious
- Being irritable
- Moving and talking slowly
- Feeling worthless or helpless
- Problems concentrating or remembering
- Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
- Thoughts of suicide
Cocaine, Fatigue, and Trouble Sleeping
Cocaine withdrawal can also lead to problems with sleeping. Cocaine users may feel extremely tired during the day but are unable to fall asleep when it’s their bedtime.
The best way to combat sleeping problems caused by cocaine withdrawal is to stay on a normal sleeping schedule despite feeling tired. Going to bed at the same time every night and avoiding naps can make it difficult to fall asleep later. Winding down before going to bed by making a cup of tea or reading a book can also help resolve cocaine-related sleeping problems.
Cocaine and Feeling Uncomfortable
Unfortunately, one of the worst withdrawal symptoms for cocaine is a protracted dysphoric syndrome. This disorder involves severe changes in mood with no discernible pattern. You may experience:
- Low energy and fatigue
- Problems concentrating
- Severe boredom
- Generalized malaise
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Severe cravings
Those who feel uncomfortable as a result of cocaine withdrawal can try practicing calming activities like a warm bath. Keeping the mind stimulated and distracted to take the focus off drug cravings may allow cravings to diminish until you no longer experience them at all.
Cocaine Causes Changes in Your Brain
The brain naturally reacts to rewards through the release of a brain neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine interacts with the body’s pleasure sensors and makes users feel good when using cocaine. When addictive drugs such as cocaine are used regularly, the brain releases dopamine repeatedly as part of an unnatural response to the stimulant. This causes dopamine levels to deplete relatively quickly. In time, cocaine users can no longer feel good or happy without the stimuli response that comes from using drugs.
Is Cocaine Always Addictive?
Cocaine use doesn’t always lead to addiction. Some people can use cocaine recreationally without ever becoming physically dependent, while some people’s reward systems are more vulnerable to stimuli response than others. Genetics play a major role in determining whether cocaine use can lead to addiction since many people are genetically predisposed for addiction — especially when addiction is part of their family history. Other risk factors for addiction include gender, socioeconomic status, history of drug or alcohol use, mental capacity, and individual circumstance.