Cocaine is a powerful psychoactive stimulant that originated from the Coca leaf farmed in South America. It was considered a glamorous party drug, with many high-profile celebrities known to be using it, increasing its popularity. As a strong stimulant, it releases a blissful cocktail of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, leaving the user feeling confident, alert, and talkative without the need for sleep or food, making the drug extremely attractive for those who may want to work harder for longer or to lose weight and appear comfortable in high-pressure social situations.
Crack cocaine is a free base form of cocaine, found as a white or yellow crystal rock, and is smoked using a pipe. Because crack is a far more concentrated version of cocaine, effects are felt almost immediately and last only a few minutes, making it a highly addictive substance. The body quickly develops a tolerance to this drug, requiring increased doses taken at more and more frequent intervals.
Miami has a long and troubled history with cocaine. Being located in Delray Beach and its proximity to Miami, The Beachcomber has seen firsthand the lasting effects of cocaine addiction on our community. Our staff of drug treatment professionals has worked since 1976 with patients from all over Florida to confront and defeat their cocaine and crack addictions.
What is Cocaine addiction?
A cocaine addiction occurs when a person feels a craving for the drug or needs to use it in order to engage in or complete basic daily tasks. Without the drug, they can feel depressed, anxious, hopeless, or aggressive and resort to stealing or manipulation in order to access and use cocaine. A person addicted to cocaine will typically prioritize using the drug over all aspects of their life: work, education, friends and family, and even their basic needs such as washing or eating.
Due to cocaine’s popularity, many people may not recognize they are addicted to the substance and simply believe they are ‘having fun’ and reject concerns over their behavior. Similarly, because of the stimulant nature of the drug, many users will believe they need the drug in order to maintain their lifestyle, making it difficult to address and seek help for this addiction.
Short and Long-term Side Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine produces a ‘rush’ as the neurotransmitters are released from the brain. The ‘rush’ is characterized by increased heart rate, quicker speech, dilated pupils, sweating, and more focused attention. Over time, the increased heart rate and temperature in the body can result in long-term damage to the user’s heart and other vital organs.
The effect of crack on a user is similar to that of powder cocaine, yet significantly more intense and short-lived. Using crack cocaine can greatly increase the risk of psychosis whereby the user experiences frightening hallucinations and delusions which can result in the user taking part in violent crime or abuse.
Signs and symptoms that a person may be suffering from Cocaine addiction
Like most addictions, it can be difficult to identify when a person has become addicted as they typically try to hide the evidence from their loved ones. Furthermore, if the person is in a group of friends who also use the drug recreationally, it can be difficult to detect when a person has become addicted to cocaine.
Some usual signs of addiction include:
- A noticeable difference in appearance, such as unwashed hair, clothes, and skin
- A significant weight loss, lack of appetite, and constant flu-like symptoms
- A lack of financial stability; requests to borrow money continuously without repayment
- A noticeable change in personality; erratic moods, irritability, impatience, or depression
- A failed attempt to cut down or stop using cocaine, despite having intentions to stop
Detox, Withdrawal and Treatment for Cocaine addiction
Due to the intense release of neurotransmitters after taking cocaine, the body will begin to rely on the drug to feel the same sensations. Once the body has begun to adapt to the regular influx of cocaine in the body, it can be very difficult to stop taking it, as the body then will react to the lack of dopamine and serotonin, causing feelings of restlessness, irritability, and hopelessness. A person can experience far more severe withdrawal symptoms from crack cocaine due to its concentration, such as sickness, nausea, psychosis, and psychological distress.
For this reason, it can be necessary for a person to first enter into a detoxification program before they engage in other treatment methods, assisted by a medical professional, to make the process as comfortable as possible.
After detoxification is complete, The Beachcomber offers a wide range of holistic treatments aimed at getting directly to the root cause of the addiction, encouraging the user to take responsibility for their addiction, and addressing any underlying reasons which may be motivating the person to abuse cocaine.