What is Cocaine?
Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca plant and has been used for thousands of years by people in South America who chewed the leaves which acted as a stimulant and helped them work longer and harder.
Modern cocaine was extracted and purified by the late 1800’s and was used in many tonics, even Coca-Cola in the early 1900’s.
Cocaine is a powerful addictive stimulant which has many serious physical and mental negative consequences.
Cocaine is a Scheduled II drug with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Purified medical cocaine is legitimately used by doctors for anesthesia but the vast majority of cocaine comes from the street and is smuggled into the country and sold in a variety of forms, such as a crystalline powder (flake), cocaine base or “freebase” and a more concentrated smokeable version known as “crack”
According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine is the 4th most commonly abused drug in the US, Alcohol being number one, marijuana number 2 and pain killer number 3.
The use of cocaine has been fairly steady over the last 10 years with overdose deaths from cocaine peaking in 2006. Cocaine deaths slowed for a while until 2012 at which point began to rise again.
Severe medical complications are associate with cocaine, most notably are heart arrhythmia, heart attacks, seizures, strokes and comas. In rare but much publicized, sudden death can occur on the very first use of cocaine (Len Bias University of Maryland).
NIDA reports cocaine accounted for almost 6-10 percent of all substance abuse treatment admissions. The majority of abusers now favor “crack” due to its potent effect and cheap introduction to use. However, “crack” cocaine has been identified as the most highly addictive form of cocaine with devastating effects on the user and especially any close family or associations.
Treatment for cocaine dependency varies; currently there are no medications that are FDA approved. Due to cocaine’s withdrawal symptoms of dysphoric mood (flat, depressed) fatigue, sleep disturbance and irritability, clients are more likely to drop out of treatment prematurely. This makes early intervention that much more important and to reach the cocaine user as early as possible for treatment. The proper level of care depends on the user’s length of use and form of cocaine. There are medications that can reduce some of the withdrawal symptoms, but more important is the structure and time in treatment. Recovery from cocaine dependence takes more time and persistence than other more commonly abused substances.
As with other drug addictions, cocaine addiction is a disease. Individuals with a cocaine addiction more often than not require professional treatment in order to overcome their addiction and remain clean long-term. Once a patient comes to us for treatment, we will perform an assessment in order to determine the course of treatment. It is important for us to be able to determine the level of physical dependency a patient has in order to maintain their safety and well-being. A psychological evaluation will be done as well.
The initial detoxification period can be difficult, as the patient is experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms. We will work with them to help them get through this. Once the bloodstream is is cleaned and the patient is stable, we can begin to target the psychological issues associated with drug addiction. We will work closely with the patient to help uncover the underlying cause for their addiction. The patient will learn how to cope with their triggers, and develop other techniques to deal with certain situations without the use of drugs.