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Cocaine Addiction Help & Treatment

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

If you or a loved one needs cocaine addiction help, the thought of rehab might be a frightening prospect.

It doesn’t need to be that way, though.

While it’s widely believed that cocaine addiction is tougher to overcome than addiction to other drugs, this is not necessarily true. Research into treatment for all forms of stimulant use disorders is lacking. While more research is needed and there are currently no approved medications to treat cocaine addiction, that doesn’t mean you need to continue suffering.

Today, we’ll highlight some methods proven effective for treating cocaine addiction. From inpatient and outpatient rehab through to behavioral therapies and 12-step programs, many approaches can work, depending on your circumstances.

Before we explore how to treat addiction to stimulants like cocaine, what is this drug and why is it so dangerous?

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a narcotic derived from the leaves of the South American coca plant.

Cocaine use is widespread. NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) estimates that 15% of Americans have tried cocaine, so the concept of cocaine as the preserve of the rich and famous is inaccurate. According to the 2019 NSDUH (National Survey on Drug Use and Health), there are 1.5 million active cocaine users in the US.

Also known as coke, flake, blow, and snow, cocaine is a Schedule II narcotic, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and dependence. Recreational use of cocaine is illegal.

As a stimulant, cocaine boosts energy levels and alertness. The drug also influences the neural pathways in the brain. Resultantly, cocaine users become more talkative and feel a sense of euphoria.

Cocaine comes in white powdered form. The drug is typically snorted through a straw or rolled bill. Less commonly, users inject cocaine intravenously.

Crack is an especially potent form of rock cocaine that’s smoked rather than snorted.

Whatever form cocaine comes in, addiction can rapidly develop. This can be a physical addiction, a mental addiction, or a combination of both. Users crave the drug’s effects and feel strongly compelled to use more of the drug.


How Does Cocaine Affect The Body?

When you first take cocaine, it exerts stimulating effects, but these are short-lived. Cocaine in your body causes the production of dopamine in the brain to increase. Dopamine is a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter causing feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. Increased levels of dopamine cause you to feel intense euphoria.

From here, cocaine blocks your nerve cells from taking up dopamine and other neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine. This allows these neurotransmitters to accumulate. They also stimulate the nerve cells surrounding them, further intensifying the sense of euphoria.

Cocaine suppresses your desire for food and sleep.

Cravings for the drug quickly develop.

Frequent cocaine use causes tolerance to build. You’ll need more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Not only does this make using coke even more expensive, but it will also damage your physical and mental health when abused.

Psychological effects of addiction to cocaine include:

  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Panic
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Impaired judgment

Some of the physical effects of addiction to cocaine include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Unhealthy weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Heart attack
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Stroke
  • Seizure

Cocaine addiction is also linked to a variety of medical conditions, including:

  • Compromised immune system
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Gangrene of the bowels
  • Hepatitis

Are You Addicted to Cocaine?

Cocaine is such a powerful and addictive stimulant that it can be difficult to resist cravings for the drug once you start using it habitually. This is inflamed as tolerance starts building and the drug alters your brain chemistry. 

With cocaine, it’s typically the psychological dependence that becomes more problematic than the symptoms of physical withdrawal. Most ex-cocaine users tempted to relapse do so as a result of depressed mood and the powerful mental cravings triggered by the drug.

Some of the most common symptoms of cocaine addiction include:

  • A growing tolerance with large amounts of coke required
  • Inability to stop using the drug
  • Difficulty controlling usage
  • Withdrawal symptoms when cocaine use is discontinued
  • Serious adverse consequences professionally and in your personal life
  • Strong desire to use cocaine despite the negative impact of the drug
  • Excessive expenditure of time and money on the drug
  • Feelings of anxiety and irritability
  • Hallucinations and psychosis


What Are The Dangers of Cocaine Addiction?

High doses of cocaine can lead to your body temperature being raised dangerously high. This can bring about heart failure, heart attacks, and convulsions. Cocaine overdose can be deadly. 

The risk of overdose is compounded if the drug is mixed with alcohol or other substances.

Long-term cocaine abuse seriously damages the cartilage separating your nostrils. Sustained use of cocaine over a long period can lead to the total loss of this cartilage and a misshapen nose.

While cocaine is especially dangerous if you have high blood pressure or any kind of heart condition, it’s possible for young, healthy people to suffer heart attacks or seizures in the event of a cocaine overdose.

Using cocaine tends to negatively impact your mood. Cocaine abuse can trigger anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and paranoia.

If you have an existing mental health condition, using cocaine is highly likely to inflame this. It certainly won’t do anything to make it better.

Cocaine use during pregnancy is particularly hazardous. You can experience lowered birth weights, premature labor, or even miscarriage.

In the case of crack cocaine, smoking freebase can lead to serious breathing problems and chest pain.

Intravenous users of cocaine sharing needles or other equipment run the risk of contracting blood-borne diseases like HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis. Injecting cocaine also amplifies the risk of overdose.

What Happens with Cocaine Withdrawal?

Maybe you realize you have a problem with the amount of cocaine you’re using and you feel equipped to simply stop using the drug.

For casual users who haven’t been dependent on cocaine for too long, this can and does work.

What can you expect by the way of withdrawal symptoms, then?

Immediately after discontinuing use, you will experience the initial crash which kickstarts the withdrawal process.

The sharp and unpleasant nature of the cravings and side effects as your body cries out for more cocaine even as your brain says no. These withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Hostility
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep disturbances

When you withdraw from using cocaine, you are liable to experience extreme discomfort. This is almost unavoidable. Even worse, once withdrawal symptoms eventually subside, random cravings could strike when you least expect it.

For all these reasons and more, attempting to clean up from cocaine addiction without any form of outside assistance is inadvisable. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible or doomed to failure. There are, though, superior approaches to cocaine addiction help. These don’t need to cost a fortune and many approaches fit neatly around your lifestyle.

We’ll look next at some methods of treatment proven effective for dealing with cocaine addiction.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction: What Works?

  • Outpatient Rehab
  • Residential Rehab
  • TCs (Therapeutic Communities)
  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
  • CM (Contingency Management)
  • Matrix Model


Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is the most regularly recommended form of treatment for patients with cocaine use disorder. 

This form of treatment allows you to live at home or in community housing. You attend a treatment facility for individual and group therapy sessions and other forms of psychosocial treatment.

Outpatient programs vary considerably in terms of intensity. Some people attend the center for just a couple of hours weekly, while others attend for multiple six-hour sessions each week.

The same applies to the duration of outpatient treatment for cocaine addiction. Usually, treatment lasts for several months. The intensity of the treatment is often stepped down as you progress through your recovery journey.


Residential Rehab

Residential rehab doesn’t take place in a hospital, but rather in treatment centers and environments where medication-assisted treatment is available. You can also expect robust vocational support, psychosocial support, and holistic therapies to complement behavioral therapies.

This form of intensive rehab is not usually recommended for patients suffering from cocaine use disorder. The exception is when the patient is abusing multiple drugs, or has an underlying mental health condition, or both.

With long-term programs like this, you’ll build a stable foundation for long-term recovery. When you leave the treatment center and return to your home and community, you’ll have the tools in place to embrace your newfound sobriety.

TCs (Therapeutic Communities)

A therapeutic community is a drug-free residence enabling those in recovery from substance abuse disorders like cocaine addiction to help each other. Peer support can be a vital component of recovery.

This form of treatment will help you to better understand and to change your destructive behaviors like using cocaine despite ruinous consequences.

Most TCs demand a stay of 6 to 12 months.

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)

CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is proven effective for treating cocaine addiction.

This form of behavioral therapy teaches you to identify the triggering thoughts or feelings that previously led you to abuse cocaine. Beyond this, you’ll learn positive ways to cope with these cravings that don’t involve a line of cocaine.

You can attend CBT sessions in a range of settings suitable for your needs. While you may be skeptical, this is one of the most effective methods of altering the way you react to stressors.

CM (Contingency Management)

Contingency management is delivered in various treatment settings. The underlying principle of CM is that you are rewarded for not using drugs.

The aim of contingency management is to help you to develop the skills you need to deal with triggers rather than reaching for a bag of cocaine. Studies have shown contingency management, especially during the early stages of recovery from cocaine addiction, can be highly beneficial.

Matrix Model

An abstinence-based form of therapy combining aspects of different approaches to treating cocaine addiction, the matrix model draws on:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • 12-step programs

With the matrix model, you’ll benefit from individual counseling, family education, and general support throughout your recovery.

Viewed as an evidence-based treatment, the matrix model continues to garner plenty of attention in the recovery community.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction: Which Areas Need More Research?

  • MAT (Medication-Assisted Treatment)
  • Alternative Therapies
  • Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous

MAT (Medication-Assisted Treatment)

MAT (medication-assisted treatment) involves using prescription drugs to help you reduce or discontinue your drug use. 

This form of treatment has been studied extensively for treating opioid use disorder, but trials for MAT for cocaine use disorder have not been universally successful. The area has not been studied in great depth either.

The key for the future of MAT applied to cocaine abuse is the development of effective medications, something presently lacking. The FDA does not currently approve any medications for use treating cocaine addiction.

While past research has mainly centered on the role of dopamine, cocaine use also alters the brain’s relationship to other neurotransmitters, from serotonin and norepinephrine to glutamate and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Researchers are testing medications that work on these receptors.

For now, though, you’re out of luck if you imagined there was a pill you could take to ease your transition away from active cocaine addiction.


Alternative Therapies

There are various untested therapies that may or may not help if you’re struggling under the burden of cocaine addiction. These include but are not limited to: 




More research is required to establish whether alternative therapies are useful in relation to treating cocaine addiction.


Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous

If you successfully complete a course of treatment for cocaine addiction, prepare yourself for an ongoing journey. Consider recovery as a process rather than a single event.

To maximize your chances of staying strong and sober, consider attending support groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous. These 12-step programs will help you to work through your addiction along with others working toward complete abstinence and long-term sobriety.


Our Cocaine Addiction Help focused Treatment Center

Our cocaine addiction treatment center focuses on substance-specific treatment to help meet your particular needs. Cocaine addiction presents unique challenges, withdrawal symptoms, and mental health issues. Resultantly, we provide a specialized approach from therapists who understand the disorder.

Your therapist will work with you to address the issues surrounding your cocaine addiction. You will learn why you are addicted to cocaine and what you can do to recover from your addiction. A treatment specialist will perform a full assessment of your addiction and work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Dual Diagnosis Cocaine Addiction Treatment Center Programs

Upon your admission into a cocaine addiction treatment center, the addiction treatment staff will conduct a mental health assessment to determine the unique underlying mental health conditions that contribute to your cocaine addiction then create a personalized cocaine addiction treatment program based on your unique conditions. We provide evidence-based treatment (EBT) as a basis for your primary care. EBT is a science-based approach with years of research and study behind it. EBT is proven to be effective in treating the most severe cases of cocaine addiction. 

You will overcome the physical symptoms of cocaine addiction and learn valuable coping skills to avoid turning to cocaine or other drugs in times of distress. You will gain a better understanding of yourself and the addictive behaviors that led to your cocaine addiction. We will help you develop healthier habits to get your life back on track.

At Renaissance Recovery Center, we provide comprehensive dual diagnosis cocaine addiction treatment. Our addiction therapy services and cocaine addiction treatment programs in Southern California will help you overcome both the physical symptoms of cocaine addiction and mental health disorders fueling your addiction so you can make a lasting recovery from cocaine.

Our addiction treatment programs and addiction therapy services in Southern California utilized for effective cocaine addiction treatment include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Holistic Therapy Program

Intensive Outpatient Rehab Program

Medication-Assisted Treatment Program

Mental Health Treatment Program

Outpatient Treatment Program

Partial Hospitalization Program

Vocational Development Program

Cocaine Rehab Admissions

You can start the rehab admissions process online or by calling the Renaissance Recovery Center at 866.330.9449. Our rehab coordinator will ask for basic information such as your name, medical, mental health, and drug use history.

Beyond this, our rehab admissions coordinator will also ask you about what drugs you are currently using, how often you are using them, and in what quantities to provide us with a better understanding of the severity of your cocaine addiction.

Next, the coordinator will verify your insurance benefits by contacting your insurance provider. This helps expedite the process, and the rehab coordinator will know how to deal with the insurance provider to ensure you get the best coverage options. Insurance providers are not allowed to deny you coverage outright, but they may not meet the entire expense of cocaine addiction treatment. However, the rehab admissions coordinator will advise you about what part is covered under your plan and your financial options for cocaine addiction treatment at a cocaine addiction treatment center in Southern California.

Contact Renaissance Recovery Center Today

You don’t need to suffer from cocaine addiction anymore. Overcome cocaine addiction through comprehensive dual diagnosis cocaine addiction treatment.

Contact Renaissance Recovery Center today at 866.330.9449 to make a lasting recovery from cocaine addiction.866.330.9449

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country