Is Cocaine an Addictive Substance?

Modern medical science defines addiction as a “neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by a recurring desire to continue taking the drug despite harmful consequences.”

Addiction causes physical changes in the brain’s reward circuitry that make using drugs hard to resist. These changes in the brain usually relate to the brain’s release of neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that causes a massive release of dopamine. However, it is not physically addictive in the same way heroin, alcohol, or tranquilizers are. The fact that cocaine’s withdrawal symptoms are mainly mental means that many users think it is not addictive or is “not as addictive” as other substances. However, cocaine addiction has the power to dominate and ruin user’s lives quickly.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 6% of admissions to treatment centers are for cocaine addiction.

This equates to over 20,000 Americans each year. Only 10% of substance users receive treatment, so the overall number of cocaine users in America is likely much higher than this.

If you are reading this, there is a chance you are worried about yourself or a loved one’s cocaine use. You might have noticed a change in behavior or lifestyle, or you might have tried to stop and failed.

The good news is that as addictive as cocaine is, it is possible to recover, and with the proper support and treatment, you can regain control of your life.

At Cirque Lodge, we offer a range of therapies and individualized treatment programs. Our center is nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Utah. You will have the perfect combination of expert clinical care and the space to focus on healing without the distractions of everyday life.

What Is Cocaine?

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a fine white powder made from the coca plant and works by hijacking our natural reward system.

It can be snorted, injected or smoked and takes effect within seconds to minutes, depending on how it is ingested.

Usually, the brain’s mesolimbic dopamine system rewards us for pleasurable behaviors, such as eating and socializing. Our brain releases dopamine which makes us enjoy the activity and want to repeat it. Usually, our brain then recycles the dopamine for later use.

However, cocaine blocks our brain from reabsorbing dopamine, which leads to a huge build-up, and at first, this is extremely enjoyable to users. The effects of cocaine are short-lived and wear off after around thirty minutes. At this point, users typically begin to feel ‘lower’ than before they took the drug, which leads to repeated use and, eventually, dependence and addiction.

Cocaine addiction is insidious. It can take over user’s lives relatively quickly, or it can work its way in slowly. What starts as casual use can quickly turn into daily use, as our natural dopamine levels get lower and lower.

Cocaine Addiction And The Brain

Cocaine Addiction And The Brain

Long-term cocaine use changes our neurological systems that affect pleasure, memory, and decision-making.

When someone is addicted, the strong urges to use are very hard to resist.

Regular cocaine use causes our brains to adapt to the presence of the drug. Our system becomes more adept at processing the drug, and the dopamine receptors start to become ‘down-regulated’.

Cocaine does not produce extreme physical withdrawal symptoms like heroin or alcohol. However, it does cause a physical change in our neurological makeup and causes intense psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Past Trauma

Past Trauma

Researchers have found that people with a history of trauma are much more likely to be addicted to cocaine.

Trauma covers a wide range of life events and includes:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Witnessing death
  • Serious illness
  • Emotionally distant parents

Like cocaine, trauma causes physical changes in our brains – trauma survivors typically have a lower grey-matter concentration in the areas associated with reward. This is thought to make drug use more appealing and harder to resist to this demographic.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD) symptoms can persist for years after the original event. The condition makes it much more likely for trauma survivors to suffer from additional mental health symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

Mental health conditions are the underlying cause of many addictions – people self-medicate to relieve themselves of symptoms. However, this is extremely harmful to their general well-being in the long term and can exacerbate existing problems and complicate treatment.

At Cirque Lodge, we are well-equipped to treat any form of drug addiction. We offer a dual diagnosis program that offers specific mental health treatment and cutting-edge therapies such as EMDR to help clients process and make peace with their past trauma.

Environmental Factors for Cocaine Addiction

Environmental Factors for Cocaine Addiction

Our external environment is a very important factor when it comes to developing drug addictions.

Our surroundings influence us and our behavior, and this can start when we are children. Often, we are not aware of this and can subconsciously act out on addictive impulses without truly understanding their source.

Environmental factors for addiction include:

  • Growing up in a home where drug use was prevalent
  • Family dynamics and interactions
  • Our friendship groups
  • Our employment culture

At Cirque Lodge, you are removed from your previous environment and are away from your usual cues and triggers. At our treatment center in the majestic Rocky Mountain, you will be surrounded by attentive and compassionate staff who are committed to helping you heal and create solid foundations for your recovery.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

When cocaine leaves the body, especially after heavy use, it leaves us in a dopamine deficit.

Users typically experience a ‘crash’ and experience intense cravings to use the drug again. Cocaine withdrawal causes highly uncomfortable symptoms including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Extreme agitation
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression
  • Paranoia

The best way to attain recovery from cocaine addiction is medical detox, followed by a rehab treatment program to address the causative factors. Medical detox allows the body to restore itself to its natural state in a safe, controlled environment.

At Cirque Lodge, we provide the calm and comfortable environment needed for you to concentrate on your recovery journey. Our remote location allows you to free your mind from the pressures of daily life and creates space for you to heal.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine quickly gains a foothold in our lives and quickly comes to dominate it.

As our brains become less sensitive to dopamine, we find that we need cocaine just to function throughout the day.

Cocaine addiction presents differently in everyone – we are all unique, and so is our response to substance addiction. However, there are some warning signs to look out for, including:

  • Acting erratically
  • Suddenly desperately needing money
  • Lying about your whereabouts
  • A sudden change of friends
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Keeping irregular hours

If you are worried about your cocaine use, do not hesitate to contact us. If you are concerned about a family member or loved one and do not know how to proceed, we can offer intervention services. Our team of specialists will meet your loved one to discuss the impact of their addiction and try to persuade them to seek the help they need.

Treatment at Cirque Lodge

Treatment at Cirque Lodge

The causes of cocaine addiction are complex and often deep-rooted.

Recovering from cocaine addiction involves identifying the behaviors that cause you to use cocaine and developing skills to overcome them. Recovery is not an easy process and takes time, focus, and support. It requires treating any underlying mental health conditions or co-occurring disorders that may contribute to your addiction.

Effective treatment offers holistic healing for the entire person, and at Cirque Lodge, we offer intensive residential rehab treatment with 24-hour medical and psychological care. Our state-of-the-art treatment facilities provide the comfortable, nurturing environment you need to engage in the healing process fully.

Is Cocaine an Addictive Substance cta

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About Cirque Lodge
Cirque Lodge is a recovery retreat providing cognitive and experiential therapies, in the pristine natural beauty of Utah’s Rocky Mountains.

Cirque Lodge is considered among our colleagues, as one of, if not the premium drug and alcohol rehab facility in the country.

We support patients from all over the USA. For example, from:
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