Typically known as a party drug, cocaine addiction is anything but fun. Prolonged use can lead to long term changes in the brain and can produce mood or behavioral issues such as deep depression, adult-onset ADHD, and an increase in risk-taking behavior. Short term risks include heart attack, stroke, seizure, and brain damage. The earlier cocaine addiction is treated, the greater the chances of avoiding permanent damage or death. At The Summit Wellness Group, our cocaine addiction treatment program is engineered to provide a firm foundation in recovery and to help our clients return to a full life free from cocaine addiction.
How We Treat Cocaine Addiction
Here at the Summit Wellness Group, we utilize a variety of therapies, technologies, and medications to give our clients the most effective care available. Cocaine addiction is devastating to both the mind and body, and the habits developed during active cocaine addiction may also require treatment. Since the effects of cocaine addiction can be so widely damaging, we use a comprehensive array of techniques to aid our clients in returning to health.
The physical and mental effects of cocaine addiction can be dangerous and sometimes life-changing. From a physical standpoint, it is very common for cocaine addicts to have drug-induced heart issues, liver or kidney damage, tremors, malnutrition, dental problems, and sleep disturbances. From a mental standpoint, recovering cocaine addicts often suffer from depression, anhedonia, increased paranoia, hallucinations, and a variety of other neurological disorders. Treating both the physical and the mental aspects of the damage done by cocaine addiction is our first priority when a client enters treatment. Once these issues are more manageable, the real work of recovery can begin.
Aside from the direct consequences of cocaine addiction, there are many other behavioral and secondary issues that need to be dealt with as well. Many cocaine addicts become very isolated during their addiction. Reintegrating into the social ecosystem is difficult, but necessary to effective recovery. Additionally, many people addicted to cocaine lose their ability to empathize and relate to other people to some extent, and in some people, this is severe enough to border on psychopathy. Dealing with these secondary effects of cocaine addiction can be just as beneficial to long term recovery as the psychiatric and physical aspects.
Important Cocaine Addiction Treatment Considerations
Cocaine addiction can be destructive to all aspects of an addict’s life. Due to this, there are several factors that need to be considered when seeking treatment.
Physical Health Concerns
Addiction to cocaine is known to increase the risk of, or possibly even cause, a variety of physical health issues. Malnutrition is extremely common in early recovery from cocaine addiction and can lead to a series of secondary health issues on its own. Most of the direct health consequences of cocaine addiction are related to liver and circulatory issues and can include:
- High Blood Pressure
- Increased Risk of Stroke
- Increased Risk of Heart Attack
- Heart Arrhythmias
- Decreased Liver Function
- Loss of Smell
Mental Health Concerns
Due to the intense effect cocaine has on the brain, there are a variety of neurological issues that may arise from prolonged cocaine use. Some of these may include:
- Mood Disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.)
- Fatigue or Low Energy Levels
- Inability to Focus or Concentrate
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Sleep Disturbances (insomnia or hypersomnia)
- Increased Paranoia
Cocaine is a very powerful central nervous system stimulant and overdose is a real, and possibly fatal, outcome of heavy cocaine use. If done with other drugs, the risk of overdose is greatly heightened. Not only will stimulants increase the direct risk of overdose, even doing depressants can increase the likelihood of an overdose. This is because the perceived effects of cocaine will be dulled when also using depressants such as alcohol, opioids, or sedatives. Subsequently, many addicts will do much more cocaine than they normally would so they can feel it. Due to this, it is extremely risky to mix cocaine with any other drugs or alcohol.
Cocaine Withdrawal And Detox
While there are no direct physical withdrawal symptoms from cocaine, the neurological symptoms can be extremely difficult to overcome. The best chance someone has to get through this difficult time is with psychiatric help. Some of the more common cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Deep Depression
- Inability to Feel Pleasure
- Extreme Fatigue
- Short Term Sleep Disturbance (usually sleeping much more than normal)
- Intense Cravings
- Clouded or Disorganized Thinking
- Restlessness or Irritability
These symptoms can be overcome with appropriate medical assistance, but they often pose the greatest hurdle to a successful recovery. Getting through this difficult time will help to give someone the best possible chances at a new life.
Customized Cocaine Addiction Treatment Plan
The Summit Wellness Group understands the complex nature of addiction, and we will work with our clients to craft a unique and personalized treatment plan. We will address the individual needs, concerns, and challenges each client faces in a 1 on 1 setting with our treatment team. Some important considerations which will be relevant may include:
- Other drugs which may have been used (cocaine is rarely used on its own)
- The length of time, and amounts of cocaine used
- Any co-occurring mental health issues (These may be preexisting, or cocaine-induced)
- Physical health complications
- Someone’s commitment to their recovery
- The current housing situation
- Self-pay or insured plans
- Preference for inpatient or outpatient treatment
Our commitment to our clients is their health and sobriety, and we will work with them to ensure these goals are achievable. We have worked with people from all walks of life and backgrounds to help them emerge from the prison of addiction.
Managing Your Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
As mentioned, cocaine itself does not produce any physical withdrawal symptoms. That being said, it does not mean that cocaine withdrawal is not dangerous. Entering a detox program will provide the safest and most effective route for a successful recovery. Many cocaine addicts become extremely depressed, even to the point of contemplating suicide. Likewise, relapse during the first few days of withdrawal is extremely common. Having medication to decrease the neurological symptoms, as well as medical supervision will ensure the most comfortable journey through this difficult time.
The Summit Wellness Group is connected to a network of partner detox facilities that have the experience and resources to treat acute cocaine withdrawal. After several days, the worst of the symptoms will be decreased. After detox has been completed, the Summit Wellness Group will be ready to continue the journey of recovery right beside our clients.
Medications To Reduce Cocaine Cravings
During cocaine withdrawal, and for a time afterward, cravings and depression may persist. The brain will take time to return to normal, but there are medications that can be used to decrease the severity of these symptoms. For reducing cocaine cravings, some of the medications that are commonly used include:
- Naltrexone: An opioid antagonist, this medication is commonly used to treat alcohol and opioid cravings and has been used off label as a cocaine craving reducer.
- Propranolol: A beta-blocker, this medication may reduce anxiety, cravings, and excitability in recovering addicts.
- Tiagabine: An anticonvulsant, this medication may reduce cravings and is commonly used to treat panic disorders.
- Modafinil: A medication used to treat narcolepsy, it may help treat the neurological deficiencies produced by cocaine addiction.
- Baclofen: A muscle relaxant, it stimulates GABA production in the brain and may reduce cocaine cravings.
- Disulfiram: A medication commonly used to treat alcohol addiction, it may also reduce cravings for cocaine due to its effects on neurotransmitter balance.
The cravings for cocaine have typically been developed over many years of use, and likewise will take time to resolve. The goal here is to give our clients enough time away from the drug to establish a new foundation in recovery. Buying time to decrease reliance on behaviors related to instant gratification will also be extremely helpful in reducing the urge to give in to cocaine cravings. These problems can be treated, but it will take work and time to do so. With medication, this time can be extended which gives our clients a better chance at a successful recovery.
Our Therapeutic Approach To Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Addiction of any kind is a very complicated disease, and cocaine addiction poses some added challenges. The increased paranoia and antisocial tendencies typically produced by prolonged cocaine use can make it much more difficult to reconnect with people in a meaningful way. Furthermore, the act of asking for help, and especially receiving help can be made more intimidating in this way. The therapies that are used at the Summit Wellness Group are intended to open people up to social interactions and to feel more comfortable in doing so. Some of these therapies, known more formally as integrative talk therapies, may include:
- Trauma-Informed Care
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
- DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
- Group Therapy
- Motivational Interviewing
Trauma-informed care is more of an attitude towards treatment which we take at the Summit Wellness Group. As the name implies, trauma-informed care is the appreciation of the fact that trauma and addiction often go hand in hand. Be it sexual, emotional, or physical trauma, many addicts have suffered some form at some point in their lives. The subjective effects of trauma can be made more damaging by the fact that cocaine addiction often makes addicts less trusting of people in general. This approach is intended to be aware, and sensitive of, and potential trauma and to treat our clients with compassion, dignity, and empathy.
CBT and DBT work in tandem and are therapy practices used to investigate and improve the way that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors interact. CBT is used to examine the process by which behavior, thoughts, and feelings can affect each other. Having a better understanding of this process can lead to effective strategies for dealing with any negative patterns which arise from this. DBT is more focused on changing the way these interactions are expressed. DBT provides a variety of tools and exercises which can be used to interrupt or alter the negative expression of some of these patterns. When used together by a trained therapist, these techniques can be extremely powerful and helpful to those in recovery.
Group therapy and motivational interviewing are used to assist in connecting with other people again. Group therapy is a tool used to produce a sense of community and safety. Nobody is alone at the Summit Wellness Group, and there are others who have been through this before. Being able to hear from others who are going, or have gone, through the same struggles can help an addict relate, and more readily open up to help. Motivational interviewing is used to identify the desire to change. This is often hidden under many years of avoidance and escapist behavior. Being able to confront this desire, and express it more fully to ones self and others can help reinforce the desire to change. Used together, these tools can help someone realize that they need help, and feel safe enough with others to be able to ask for help.
Our Psychiatric Approach To Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Aside from the effects of acute cocaine withdrawal, there may be longer-lasting, chronic symptoms that may require medication to manage. At the Summit Wellness Group, our clients will meet with a psychiatrist to develop and maintain a personalized psychiatric treatment plan depending on their individual needs. This will include an initial assessment, along with continued meetings throughout treatment to observe the success, and possibly adjust medication as needed. Some of the common psychiatric symptoms of recovering cocaine addicts include:
- Sleep Disturbances (Nightmares / Excessive Sleep)
- Antisocial Tendencies
Many of these symptoms are related to the way cocaine affects the brain. Through prolonged dopamine and serotonin imbalances, the brain may take many months or even years to return to normal. There are a variety of medications that may be used to help treat these symptoms until the brain has had time to return to normal function. Some of these medications may include:
- Anti-Anxiety Medications
- Dopamine Agonists (for mood and energy levels)
- GABA Agents (for paranoia and anxiety issues)
- α or β-Blockers (for anti-anxiety effects)
- Opioid Antagonists (to reduce cravings)
- Sleep Aids (non-sedatives like melatonin or diphenhydramine)
Everyone has a unique set of needs and tolerances when it comes to medication. We take great care prescribing and monitoring our clients’ responses to medications. These medications will be fine-tuned through the course of treatment to provide the maximum possible benefit.
Our Holistic Approach To Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Cocaine addiction can wreak havoc on the brain. Normal function will take time to return, but there are things that can be done to speed this recovery. The holistic therapies used at the Summit Wellness Group are intended to enlist the body itself as a member of the treatment team. Using the normal regenerative and regulatory systems of the body regularly can help moderate dysfunctions, and shorten the time it takes to return to health. Some of the therapies we use to aid recovery can include:
- Adventure Therapy
- Therapeutic Fitness
- Chiropractic Care
- Massage Therapy
- Nutritional Classes
- Art Therapy
- Guided Meditation
Exercise has been known for many years to increase mood, energy levels, and sleep patterns. Adventure therapy and therapeutic fitness both utilize these beneficial aspects to combat the negative effects that result from cocaine addiction. Additionally, yoga is used to both reduce stress and promote relaxation. This can be doubly effective when used alongside more active exercises in producing a well balanced and positive mental and physical state for a recovering addict.
Chiropractic care and massage therapy are used to increase relaxation and help return the brain to a more balanced state. Chiropractic sessions will result in skeletal muscle relaxation, and less stress carried in the back muscles. This can have a profound impact on general wellness, and state of mind. Likewise, massage therapy is used to increase levels of GABA in the brain through deep tissue massage which also results in less anxiety and irritability.
Nutrition is critical in addiction recovery, and especially so with cocaine addiction treatment. Most cocaine addicts are malnourished to some degree due to appetite suppression produced by chronic cocaine use. Additionally, cocaine can degrade the lining of the stomach and intestines when it is swallowed (such as when snorting it). This results in less nutrition being absorbed from the little food that is eaten by cocaine addicts. The neurotransmitter imbalance which results from cocaine addiction can be healed more quickly when healthy eating habits are practiced. The neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin, GABA) affected by cocaine addiction are synthesized in the brain by a variety of vitamins and proteins which can only be provided by adequate nutrition.
Art therapy and guided meditation are helpful on their own but can be very powerful when combined with the integrative talk therapies that we use here at the Summit Wellness Group. Art therapy is used to increase the ability and inclination to express thoughts and feelings in a physical and healthy way and can act as an adjunct therapy to CBT, DBT, and motivational interviewing. Guided meditation is used to increase overall awareness of the body, and to put someone more in touch with how their feelings are expressed physically. This can help someone to be more aware of when they are becoming stressed, and motivate them to take action to reduce this stress.
Why Is Getting Help At A Cocaine Rehab So Important?
Cocaine addiction is extremely challenging to overcome, even with help. An addict will stand the best possible chance of successful recovery if they have a team of committed, experienced, and compassionate healers working alongside them on this journey. During cocaine withdrawal is where the vast majority of relapses occur, so making it past this hurdle is crucial. Even then, the journey is just beginning. Establishing a firm foundation in recovery with others who have been through the same struggles can be the greatest asset a recovering addict can use.
The risks associated with cocaine addiction are climbing in recent years. Cocaine overdose deaths have increased from just under 5,000 deaths in 2013 to almost 15,000 deaths in 2018 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, traces of the synthetic opioid fentanyl have increasingly been found in cocaine and is being used as a cutting agent due to its ease of manufacture, as well as its highly addictive properties.
Finally, the longer cocaine is used, the greater the damage that will be done. The neurotransmitter imbalances produced by cocaine addiction are very similar to the levels in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Increases in paranoia and antisocial behavior will also become more pronounced the longer cocaine is used. The sooner someone seeks help and treatment, the better chances they have for a full recovery.
Our Cocaine Addiction Aftercare Program
Our charge to our clients does not end when treatment is completed. The Summit Wellness Group has an array of connections in the Atlanta area recovery community which will be leveraged for the benefit of our clients. This could include assisting in finding a sober living residence, recovery meetings that are convenient to our clients, and assist in finding a sponsor. Clients will be invited to continue counseling sessions individually with their therapist as well as take part in periodic events. The Summit Wellness Group also offers an Alumni program for those who have completed treatment, so they may further their journey and make connections with others who are also committed to a sober life.
There are many 12 Step fellowships in the Atlanta area including Cocaine Anonymous, as well as non-12 Step options such as SMART Recovery and Celebrate Recovery. Finding the right recovery fellowship can be very important, and we will help our clients integrate into whichever fellowship best fits their needs. Long term sobriety is the objective, and the Summit Wellness Group is ready to offer any assistance we can in making this a reality.
Cocaine Addiction Resources
Cocaine addiction is a very lonely and scary place. The fears associated with recovery can seem overwhelming. Having a helping hand and a guiding light can make all the difference. Talking with people who have been there themselves, and have found life on the other side of addiction will help an addict realize that there is hope for a different way of life. Using the latest and most effective therapies, medications, and recovery practices, we hope to give our clients the ability to realize and manifest this for themselves.
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