Treatments for Cocaine Addiction

Learn about different treatments for cocaine addiction and how they can help you recover

Cocaine is a potent, highly addictive drug that is popular among America’s adolescents and young adults. The drug comes from the coca plant of South America, and is a powerful stimulant, natural pain blocker and also an anesthetic. As a stimulant drug, cocaine causes an increase in energy, mental alertness, motivation and feelings of well-being. The drug causes the brain to be flooded with dopamine, which creates a euphoric high in the user. Abuse of cocaine may cause tolerance to the drug which can later lead to addiction. There are different treatments for cocaine addiction that have proven successful for overcoming cocaine addiction, which are described below.

This drug affects many areas of the body and as a result, there are varied cocaine addiction symptoms. Some of the effects of cocaine addiction include involuntary muscle movements, restlessness, nausea and hyperactivity. The cocaine addict may also experience changes in their attention and concentration, and they may exhibit risky behavior. Some of the more serious adverse effects of cocaine include high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, stroke, kidney damage, twitching, tremors and thickened heart muscle walls.  Long-term cocaine addiction can have devastating effects on the body leading to malnutrition, heart muscle inflammation, a ruptured aorta, Parkinson’s disease, paranoia, psychiatric disorders, auditory hallucinations and bizarre or violent behavior.

Because cocaine affects brain chemistry it may cause behavioral abnormalities that cause psychoses and the cocaine addict may develop new on-set attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If these side effects occur, the addict may have difficulty controlling his behavior and muscle movements because of the neurological changes that are taking place. The long-term abuse of cocaine may cause the addict to also experience impairment in judgment and decision making abilities, and in cognitive performance.

There are many new developments taking place in the research of treatments for cocaine addiction. Many recovering cocaine addicts will respond well to psychological drug counseling, but it has not proven to be adequate in treating all cocaine addicts. Research in neurobiology has been making progress in treating cocaine dependence with medications. Clinical trials have shown that propranolol may help to establish an initial period of abstinence among more severely addicted cocaine addicts. To prevent a drug relapse, medications that block cocaine euphoria and reduce cravings for the drug have shown to have promise also. Disulfiram, a drug used to treat alcoholism, may also be effective in preventing a cocaine relapse. As research in this field continues, the results of clinical trials are becoming more promising for specific medications to be used in treatments for cocaine addiction. These medications, along with psychological and behavioral therapies, may be the next step in cocaine addiction help.

Rehabilitation and Treatments for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addicts have a hard time trying to remain abstinent because the initial cocaine withdrawal symptoms are difficult to manage. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include drug cravings, mood swings, irritability, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, stomach cramps, anxiety, spasms and depression. Many out-patient cocaine addicts will drop out of the rehab program because of the difficult withdrawal symptoms.

Propranolol is a beta-blocker that is showing great promise in helping severely addicted cocaine addicts get beyond the initial withdrawal phase. Beta-blockers are often used to treat anxiety, agitation, hypertension and angina. Propranolol has shown to be effective in treating the cocaine withdrawal symptoms of anxiety, agitation and irritability, and may also be helpful in reducing cocaine drug cravings. Beta-blockers like Carvedilol help to reduce the rewarding properties of cocaine use. Many patients being given propranolol for treatment on an out-patient basis have been shown to successfully complete a treatment program. Propranolol has been also shown to improve recovery treatment retention and reduce cocaine use.

Additionally, research is being done to develop medications for cocaine relapse prevention. Areas of study include blocking cocaine-induced euphoria and reducing cravings for the drug. Working with medications that promote GABAergic transmissions in the brain have shown promise in reducing the dopamine response of cocaine and to conditioned reminders of prior cocaine use. These medications may prevent a cocaine relapse by blocking the euphoric high of cocaine and reduce cravings from conditioned reminders.

Baclofen is a GABA B agonist drug that is used to relax muscles. It is showing promise in reducing the amount of dopamine released into the brain by cocaine. Tiagabine is another GABAergic drug that is being researched, and it is showing promise in improving abstinence in cocaine and other opiate dependent patients. There are many other drugs that are currently being researched for cocaine addiction treatment. And although the FDA has not approved any of these drugs yet, their future use in treating cocaine addiction shows great promise.

There are many cocaine addiction treatments currently being offered through psychological and behavioral therapies at rehab facilities. If the patient has a co-occurring mental disorder, that will also be integrated into the treatment program. Patients seeking cocaine addiction help who complete these recovery programs and attend aftercare programs are the ones who will most likely succeed in overcoming their cocaine addiction.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.