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AddictionAddiction TreatmentConcurrent DisordersPsychologyCocaine Addiction

Cocaine Use Side Effects on Your Body and Mind

By October 10, 2018 June 15th, 2023 No Comments
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Cocaine is a potent, addictive stimulant that many people use recreationally. It has a range of side effects, both short- and long-term. Sustained cocaine use can have an extremely damaging effect on the heart, brain, central nervous system and other vital organs. This article discusses the side effects of cocaine use.

One of the most serious side effects of cocaine use is addiction. Cocaine addiction can be physical, meaning that the body comes to demand the drug’s effects, or mental, meaning that the user comes to depend on its psychological and physical effects. Long-term cocaine use can lead to heart disease, heart attack, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures and gastrointestinal problems. It can also lead to addiction and can exacerbate or lead to concurrent disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Effects of Cocaine

It is important to understand the risks of cocaine use. There is an increasing risk across Canada that substances sold on the street as pure cocaine actually include fentanyl. Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous substances involved in the Canadian opioid crisis and can prove fatal even in small doses. It is also anticipated that Canada will experience an increased cocaine supply over the next two years due to a rise in the production of the drug in Colombia. For anyone using cocaine, even casually, it is important to carry out thorough research on its psychological and physical effects. This article will give you a useful starting point. For anyone concerned about their own or a loved one’s cocaine use, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres today to find out more about our cocaine addiction treatment program.

How Cocaine Works

Cocaine can be snorted, injected or smoked. Its effects and how long they last vary depending on how the user consumes it, but the drug is highly addictive when ingested through any of these methods. Cocaine effects endorphin production in the brain, leading to surges of dopamine and serotonin in the brain’s reward centre. It acts quickly to make users feel very alert, confident, energetic and euphoric. It also diminishes appetite and the sense of the need to sleep. While many users find that cocaine makes them restless and agitated, others find that it calms them and increases their feeling of self-control. User’s can come to depend on these effects, leading to sustained use and addiction.

Mental Health Effects of Cocaine Use

After its effects wear off, usually within around two hours, cocaine users will often feel a “crash.” They may feel worn out, depressed, anxious or agitated. The drug may also continue to suppress appetite and energy, making it difficult to function normally. Sustained use can lead to issues with anxiety, paranoia and mood swings. In some cases, continued cocaine use can result in psychosis. It can also reduce the amount of gray matter in the brain’s frontal cortex and hippocampus, which negatively effects memory and decision-making.

The fast process of cocaine’s effects often leads to a “binge and crash” pattern of use, wherein people continue to use the drug to sustain its effects and stave off the crash. This pattern is highly conducive to addiction. People addicted to cocaine are significantly more likely to neglect important issues as a result of their substance use. They are also more likely to use the drug in situations in which it is particularly dangerous, such as when driving or when responsible for others. They may also reduce their support network and deepen their problems by becoming isolated from others.

Increased Tolerance

Someone who uses cocaine regularly will also see their tolerance increase, meaning they will need to use more of the drug to achieve the desired effect. This will increase its influence on their lives and make their habit even more financially damaging. Cocaine is one of the most expensive drugs of abuse, adding to its destructive effect. With sustained use, the drug also effects the structure of the brain, making it less responsive to regular stimuli after becoming used to the increased dopamine and endorphin effect of cocaine. As previously mentioned, the change in structure may also effect decision-making and memory. This makes it extremely difficult for addicts to stop using the drug without dedicated, professional support.

Physical Effects of Cocaine Use

Cocaine can have a damaging effect on the muscles of the heart. It cause cardiomyopathy (damage to the muscles of the heart) and endocarditis (inflammation of the heart’s tissue). These conditions can lead to cardiac arrest, heart attack, fatal cardiac arrhythmia and stroke. Cocaine can also cause rupture of the aorta. These risks increase the more cocaine is consumed. When someone overdoses on cocaine, it is often because of the effects the drug has had upon the heart.

Damage to the heart can also lead to brain damage due to interruption of the blood supply to the brain. Cocaine use can increase blood pressure, which can lead to weakened blood vessels in the brain bursting. It has also been proven to negatively effect cognitive performance, focus and decision-making. Even users who do not use cocaine often can experience neurological effects such as an impact on decision-making, memory and response to stimuli.

As well as the heart and brain, sustained cocaine use can damage the kidneys by causing them to become inflamed. When used alongside alcohol, cocaine may also cause the body to produce more cocaethylene, which can increase the risk of heart failure and make people behave more impulsively.

For people injecting cocaine, there is also a strong risk of blood infection. Frequent snorting of cocaine can also damage the nose in function and appearance, in particular the septum. When used during pregnancy, cocaine can have a negative effect on the fetus, including damaging the developing heart.

Cocaine and Concurrent Disorders

Cocaine use is associated with concurrent disorders including depression and anxiety. In some cases, people dealing with a mental health condition will use cocaine as a method of dealing with its symptoms. Fore example, someone suffering from depression may use cocaine to alleviate its effects. In other cases, someone using cocaine over a prolonged period may develop conditions such as anxiety or depression as a result of its effect on their lives. Some users may also develop psychosis as a result of sustained cocaine abuse.

For people seeking treatment for cocaine addiction, it is essential to find a program that treats concurrent disorders. This means using evidence-based methods in a holistic approach that treats the whole person and not just their addiction. This allows a person to deal with the underlying causes of all relevant conditions, rather than address addiction in isolation. Individual therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy have proven highly effective in treatment cocaine addiction alongside concurrent disorders.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

When a person has developed an addiction to cocaine, they usually require dedicated, professional support to overcome this addiction. Treatment for cocaine addiction should always use evidence-based techniques and focus on the individual. Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres uses methods including individual therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and group counselling to treat cocaine addiction. Cocaine withdrawal is also an intensely difficult process and often requires professional support.

Individual Therapy for Cocaine Addiction

Individual therapy with our therapists, all of whom are qualified to at least master’s-level, helps clients to identify the causes and consequences of their addiction. It allows them to identify particular triggers and responses in their patterns of behaviour and thought. They then work to develop strategies for dealing with them. Cognitive behavioural therapy has also proven highly effective in treating cocaine addiction. It focuses on the client’s patterns of behaviour and thought and how these patterns influence their addiction. CBT can give someone the necessary foundation for resisting impulses to use cocaine and to ultimately move beyond these impulses. It is a crucial part of Trafalgar’s addiction treatment programs.

Relapse & Aftercare for Cocaine Addiction

Science Daily note that “cocaine addiction is often characterized by cycles of recovery and relapse.” This means that building a strong foundation for recovery is essential. It also makes aftercare extremely important in keeping a person on the right path and maintaining the connection with their treatment provider to deal with recovery challenges or relapse. Relapse is a part of recovery for many people, and should not be seen as a reason to give up, but rather as an opportunity to adjust or reaffirm a recovery strategy. With the right professional support, recovery from cocaine addiction is absolutely possible.

Cocaine Addiction Aftercare at Trafalgar

Trafalgar continues to support its clients through its Aftercare and ContinUcare programs. Aftercare functions through group counselling sessions specific to certain issues, providing long-term peer support and preventing a person from becoming isolated. It is available to Trafalgar clients on an ongoing basis after finishing their initial treatment. It is a crucial aspect of our commitment to our clients.

ContinUcare keeps clients in touch with our clinical team through sets of questions that will be provided periodically, allowing clients to monitor their own well-being and helping our staff to identify potential issues. These programs provide Trafalgar alumni with access to long-term supports that reduce the likelihood of relapse. They also provide reassurance for the client and those close to them that any problems that arise will be identified and proactively addressed.

While recovery from cocaine addiction is a difficult, lifelong process, with real commitment and the necessary professional support, it is entirely possible. If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine addiction, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres today.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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