Cocaine works directly on the central nervous system of the body to cause a “high,” or pleasurable sense of well-being. It also creates a feelings of great energy and increased focus.
The drug comes in two forms: powder cocaine and crack cocaine. Both are highly addictive and physically dangerous, requiring specialized treatment once the user has reached the point of addiction, which can happen quickly.
What Is the Difference Between Cocaine and Crack Cocaine?
Cocaine comes from cocoa leaves and naturally occurs as hydrochloride salt powder. Powder cocaine is typically snorted and absorbed through the membranes in the nose.
Crack cocaine is produced when powdered cocaine has been chemically altered to have the salt removed, transforming it into a crystalized form that is also referred to as the free base form of cocaine. This changes how it can be ingested.
Crack cocaine crystals are heated and inhaled into the lungs through smoking. Both crack and powder cocaine can be dissolved in a liquid and injected into the bloodstream. Inhalation and injection allow the drug to be more quickly absorbed for a faster and more intense high, making it even more addictive.
How Addictive Is Cocaine?
Cocaine in either powder or crystal form has widespread effects throughout the body as a whole, especially affecting brain function.
Cocaine floods the brain with neurotransmitters that produce the high, but over time, the brain adjusts to the higher levels of neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine, which has two effects:
- Cocaine users need to keep increasing the dose (the amount of cocaine they use to get high) in order to feel the same effect.
- Users no longer feel good from the natural, everyday things that used to bring them pleasure.
As a result, obtaining and using cocaine becomes the primary focus of the addict’s daily life, since getting high is the only way they can experience pleasure in life.
Snorting cocaine produces a high in under 5 minutes, while smoking and injecting provide a nearly instant high. Depending on the method of use, the high lasts from 15 minutes to 2 hours. This short period of effectiveness, especially for crack, leads to binge using.
Crack cocaine addiction in particular leads to binging, in which the person will use the drug repeatedly for three to five days, then sleep for two to four days.
Because of the extreme euphoric effects of cocaine and the feelings of high energy and invincibility that it often produces, people can become hooked on cocaine after their first use.
The Effects of Cocaine and Crack Abuse
There are many short- and long-term side effects of cocaine use, including:
- Hyper alertness
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability and mood swings
- Auditory hallucinations
- Damage to lungs (if smoked)
- Damage to nose membranes (if inhaled)
- Diseases transmitted via needle, such as HIV and Hepatitis C (if injected)
- Dangerously high body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, which could lead to death from a heart attack or stroke
Cocaine users can also experience severe depression when they run out of cocaine, which may lead them to seek out drugs like Xanax or Valium, which are also highly addictive.
Interventions for Cocaine Addiction
As with all addictions, cocaine users typically do not believe they have a problem, and instead believe that their use of the drug is well within their control. They find ways to rationalize away the negative effects that are so obvious to the people around them.
What is different in crack cocaine addicts, however, is that after they return from a binge and sleep off the effects, they may seem fine for a period of time. Unlike other substances, the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine are not severely painful. As a result, the user, and even family members, may be fooled into believing the addict when they say that the most recent binge was their last one.
But because people addicted to crack can’t experience pleasure from everyday life the way non-drug users can, they inevitably end up seeking out the drug again, going on another binge, and starting the cycle all over again.
These factors make it important to time the intervention so that it occurs right after the user returns from a binge. It is a two-day process.
On the first day, the interventionist meets with the family, without the addict present, to prepare for the intervention and help the family begin to heal from the fallout of the addiction.
The second stage is the formal intervention with the cocaine user, right after he or she wakes up from a multi-day slumber. This is the point at which he or she is most likely to be convinced to enter rehab.
What the Crack and Cocaine Addiction Treatment Process Involves
Cocaine alters the brain in such a way that it takes an extended period of time to heal physically, even after the drug has been cleared from the system. For this reason, a long-term inpatient addiction treatment program is best for both types of cocaine addiction.
Cocaine addiction treatment starts with a medically managed drying-out period, called detox, to rid the body of cocaine and manage any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Because the brain must re-adapt to life without cocaine, it can take time for the client to feel happiness again, since his or her ability to experience pleasure without cocaine has been severely reduced. Professional counselors and medical experts in addiction help the client safely manage any feelings of depression or ambivalence that may be present during this transition period.
After detox, and as the body is returning to normal functioning, education and counseling services will help the client:
- Understand which factors led them to addiction in the first place
- Heal from past experiences
- Learn natural ways to feel good and get pleasure from life without substances
An individualized aftercare plan, which may include weekly outpatient services, helps to keep the client on track for long-term recovery. Making sure that treatment continues until the client can independently support his or her own healthy lifestyle is key to preventing relapse.
Covering Rehab Costs for Cocaine Addiction Recovery
Cocaine addiction not only takes a huge toll on the body of the addict, it is also a very expensive habit that wreaks havoc on a family’s finances and stress levels. The sooner the cocaine user gets the professional help they need, the sooner their body can begin to heal.
Although long-term cocaine rehabilitation isn’t cheap, when it is weighed against the cost of supporting an expensive cocaine habit, plus all the emotional turmoil and possibility of overdose, the cost is very worthwhile. We recommend that you begin by getting an idea of what your insurer will cover, and then you can contact us if you need professional guidance in the treatment-seeking process.
How Do I Get Insurance Coverage for Cocaine Rehab?