Cocaine is a powerful and addictive stimulant drug that comes from the leaves of the coca plant. Single cocaine use can lead to addiction, a chronic and relapsing disease.
People who are addicted to cocaine often have a difficult time quitting on their own. Treatment for cocaine addiction typically includes behavioral therapy and medication. If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine addiction, please seek help from a professional treatment provider.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a white powder that comes from the leaves of the coca plant. It is typically abused by snorting through the nose, smoking, or injecting intravenously. When used in these ways, cocaine can lead to addiction.
How to Identify Cocaine
Cocaine powder is white or off-white in color and has a bitter taste. It can be snorted through the nose, injected directly into the veins, or smoked. Crack cocaine is tan or light brown in color and has a crumbly texture. It can be smoked in a pipe or mixed with water and injected.
Different Types of Cocaine
There are two main types of powdered cocaine: hydrochloride salt and freebase. Hydrochloride salt powder dissolves easily in water and has a slightly acidic pH.
Freebase powder does not dissolve as easily in water and has an alkaline pH. Freebase powder is often smoked because it produces a more intense high than hydrochloride salt powder.
Crack cocaine is made by mixing powdered cocaine with water and baking soda or ammonia until it forms crystals. The crystals are then broken up into small pieces called “rocks.”
Street Names for Cocaine
Cocaine has many street names, including “coke,” “blow,” “nose candy,” “powder,” “snow,” “rock” (crack cocaine), and “speed.”
Signs of Cocaine Abuse
There are many signs that may indicate someone is abusing cocaine. These signs can be physical, mental, or behavioral changes.
Some common signs of cocaine abuse include:
- Speak faster than usual
- Have dilated pupils
- Seem paranoid
- Appear anxious or agitated
- Have difficulty sleeping
- Lose interest in food or eating
- Runny nose or nosebleeds (if snorting)
Short- and Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine abuse has severe short-term and long-term effects on the brain and body. Short-term effects of cocaine use include increased:
Long-term effects of cocaine abuse can lead to problems with memory and attention, as well as increased risk for:
- Heart attack
How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?
Usually, cocaine lasts up to 12 hours after the last use. But anyone using cocaine chronically may have detectable levels of the substance for four days or longer with frequent use.
Depending on the type of drug test used, cocaine may be debatable for the following windows of time:
- Urine Test – 2-4 days
- Blood Test – 2-5 days
- Hair Test – 90 days
- Saliva Test – 1-10 days
Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 24 hours after the last dose of cocaine is taken. Withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks or even months.
Some common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:
- Sleep problems
- Intense cravings for cocaine
Polysubstance Abuse: Common Drugs Used with Cocaine
Some people who abuse cocaine also abuse other drugs to enhance the effects of cocaine or counteract the side effects. If cocaine is mixed with another stimulant, it may cause the drug’s effects to be amplified. While mixing cocaine with a depressant can counteract the effects of cocaine.
Some drugs that are commonly used with cocaine include:
- Ecstasy (MDMA)
Effect of Cocaine on The Brain: How Addictive Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug because it increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure center. When dopamine levels are increased, people feel a rush of pleasurable feelings.
The body quickly adapts to these higher dopamine levels by producing less dopamine on its own. As a result, people who abuse cocaine need to keep taking larger doses of the drug to feel its effects—this is called tolerance.
Tolerance can quickly lead to addiction. Addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug-seeking despite adverse consequences. People addicted to drugs will continue using them even if doing so leads to job loss, financial ruin, relationship problems, or health problems.
Dangers of Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
Cocaine abuse can lead to serious health consequences such as:
- cardiovascular problems (e.g., heart attacks and strokes)
- gastrointestinal issues (e.g., abdominal pain and bowel gangrene)
- neurological problems (e.g., seizures and headaches)
- mental health problems (e.g., anxiety and paranoia).
In addition, pregnant women who abuse cocaine may give birth to babies with low birth weights or other health problems.
Cocaine use can also lead to psychosis, characterized by paranoia, delusions, auditory hallucinations, and visual hallucinations. If left untreated, psychosis can lead to violence or suicide.
Treatment Options for Cocaine Addiction
Finding a treatment program for cocaine addiction can help people regain control of their lives. Various treatment plans apply different approaches to help individuals find the best treatment solution for their situation.
One of the first steps to getting your loved one help may be addressing the issue with an intervention. When planned correctly, interventions will help individuals struggling with addictive behaviors understand more about how their actions affect the people closest to them.
Medical Detox Programs
Some may say that medical detox isn’t needed for cocaine addiction. However, due to the extreme psychological effects quitting cocaine can cause, a medical detox is highly recommended.
Withdrawal symptoms can be managed more efficiently with a medical detox program than by detoxing alone at home. This point of the recovery journey is often when people are the most vulnerable to experiencing a relapse.
Inpatient Treatment and Outpatient Programs
Following detox programs, individuals will likely be recommended to an inpatient program. Inpatient treatment provides people with the supportive environment they need to recover while they live at the rehab center during the treatment program.
After completing an inpatient program, typically lasting 30 to 90 days, outpatient programs can help individuals slowly transition to a more regular lifestyle, as outpatient treatment permits people to live at home while attending treatment.
Finding a Cocaine Addiction Treatment Program
Cocaine addiction is a severe issue. Because cocaine is highly addictive, it can be complicated to quit. The treatment specialists at South East Addiction Treatment are here to help you determine your next steps.
Whether for yourself or a loved one, we can provide a free substance abuse assessment and recommend the best treatment option for your unique situation. Call our addiction treatment helpline at (844) 989-1451 for more information.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – High-Risk Substance Use Among Youth
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – Cocaine DrugFacts
- National Library of Medicine – The Neurobiology of Cocaine Addiction
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus – Cocaine Also called: Blow, C, Coca, Coke, Crack, Flake, Snow