While much of the U.S. media’s attention has recently been on the opioid epidemic, the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s most recent statistics on cocaine use indicate 8.4% of adults report having used cocaine in the past year. (That is one out of every 12 adults in America.) Cocaine is a stimulant and controlled substance that can cause significant health complications, including viral infections, mental impairment, seizures, heart attack, overdose and death. And because cocaine increases levels of the natural chemical messenger dopamine in the brain’s circuitry (specifically related to “reward”), it is a powerful, addictive substance that can bring about dependency very quickly.
When one has become chemically dependent from repeated cocaine use and tries to stop, the withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Severe Fatigue
- Impeded thinking
According to data collected by Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Studies (DATOS), the most effective way to treat cocaine dependency is to enroll in a residential treatment program lasting at least 90 days. In a study of 1,605 patients who were treated for cocaine abuse, 49 percent of study participants reported using cocaine every day. One year after going through treatment at a residential treatment program, only 12 percent were using cocaine daily.
Although cocaine withdrawal is typically not life-threatening, it is highly recommended to consider the option of medically supervised detox. Many people going through cocaine withdrawal can experience intense paranoid thoughts, severe anxiety, temporary psychosis and even suicidal urges. If these people are supported during their withdrawal symptoms by doctors specializing in addiction medicine, in an inpatient rehab program with professionally trained detox staff members at hand, the likelihood of a safer, smoother experience is ensured.
How frequently does the data show a person seeking detox has been abusing cocaine? According to the most recent Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) statistics, about 24 percent of emergency department visits by people seeking detox or substance abuse treatment involved cocaine use.
During medically assisted cocaine detox, trained professionals help clients overcome any harsh or uncomfortable cocaine withdrawal symptoms that may occur when they suddenly stop using cocaine. Medical professionals strive to help clients feel as comfortable as possible during detox. They may provide medicines to alleviate the effects of withdrawal.
It should be noted that detox is the first stage of cocaine rehab. Ongoing research is investigating how effective medications can be in reducing cocaine use and the risk of relapse after treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, several medications designed to treat other diseases have shown promise in reducing cocaine use.
These medications include:
- Disulfiram (used to treat alcohol addiction)
- Modafinil (used to treat sleep problems)
- Lorcaserin (used to treat obesity)
However, people who want to stop using cocaine should not attempt to use medications on their own. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause side effects that the person using them may not know how to handle. The safest option is to consider professional treatment.
Regarding the efficacy of counseling and therapy, a number of behavioral therapies have been proven effective in treating cocaine addiction. These treatments use a variety of unique approaches to reduce cocaine abuse. In general, however, counseling and therapy for drug addiction is more effective when it occurs in an inpatient treatment setting.
Therapeutic communities or homes, which often include supportive services such as vocational resources, can assist those who’ve completed treatment in their reintegrating into society after their detox and treatment. They can also provide helpful resources to improve legal and mental health outcomes among residents.
People recovering from cocaine addiction may also benefit greatly from 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous or other such “12 Steps” groups, which are support groups for individuals who want to recover from cocaine dependency or addiction to other drugs.
In conclusion, medically assisted detox—and even completing treatment—does not guarantee long-term sobriety. People in recovery must work to stay “clean and sober” and incorporate the lessons learned in treatment to their everyday lives. It has been found that recovery from cocaine dependency or any other drug addiction is not sustainable if attempted alone. People in recovery need additional support to continue learning new ways to live life free from drugs. For countless people who’ve sought such support, the best place to start that journey is at a treatment center incorporating both medically assisted detox and continued treatment for establishing a strong recovery foundation.