Cocaine Addiction: Coming Down From The High


Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that causes heightened activity and energy. Cocaine addiction can be difficult to recover from because it makes you feel alert, more energetic, and it can improve your mood exponentially. 

Cocaine is made from the coca bush which stimulates the central nervous system. It can be used in three forms: in powdered form which is inhaled up the nose and commonly referred to as “coke” or “blow,” dissolved in water and injected, or used through a chemical process that allows for freebase smoking called “crack.”

Cocaine addiction treatment starts by understanding the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction and takes the unique situation of the addicted person into account.

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

What Is Cocaine Addiction?

Because it begins working almost immediately in the body, cocaine addiction can happen after the first or second use. Cocaine addiction is the continued use of the drug despite the negative consequences.

Cocaine blocks the removal of dopamine from the synapses, which causes the initial euphoria or “high”, and is what ultimately leads to the addiction. The chemical processes in cocaine stops the reabsorption of the neurotransmitter in the brain, sustaining that sensation and reinforcing a ‘rewards’ pathway in the brain.

When cocaine leaves the bloodstream there is an inevitable low, which causes the user to feel anxious, depressed, and irritable. 

Repeated use of cocaine causes a tolerance to the chemical, which results in users having to increase their intake. After an extended period of use, the natural chemical reactions of neurotransmitters are less able to function. The user may feel that they need to use cocaine to feel “normal”.

If you suspect someone needs cocaine addiction help, the signs to look for include:

  • Aggressive mood swings and violent outbursts
  • Social isolation in order to use the drug
  • Heightened confidence and talkativeness
  • Unusual financial difficulties due to spending money on cocaine
  • A lack of concern for personal hygiene
  • Agitation, excitement, and increased energy
Recognise Symptoms

Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

Aside from the emotional and behavioural signs of cocaine addiction, there are other symptoms. Our cocaine addiction rehab in Cape Town educates you on the different aspects of cocaine addiction and what warning signs to look for:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Bloodshot eyes due to blood vessels expanding from drug use
  • A collapsing, frequently bloody or running nose from chronic cocaine use
  • Unusual excitability and energy
  • Intense depression when not able to use 
  • Avoidance of social situations in favour of using the drug
  • Choosing social situations that allow for drug use over healthy social interaction
  • A loss of appetite and significant weight-loss
  • Extended periods of wakefulness and arousal

Having cocaine paraphernalia in the home, such as pipes, syringes, spoons, razor blades, and small bags are also indicators of an addiction.

Other Consequences

Can Cocaine Addiction Lead To The Misuse Of Other Drugs?

Users may initially try different methods to consume the drug for a more immediate effect or a more sustained high, for example smoking ‘crack cocaine’ or injecting themselves with diluted cocaine.

As their tolerance increases, they need increasing amounts of the drug. If they are unable to attain a high or can no longer afford to use cocaine, they may seek other drugs that are cheaper and better able to produce the desired effects.

Cocaine is a stimulant, so regular or long-term users are more likely to misuse other stimulants such as methamphetamine (meth or tik) or amphetamines like ADHD medication. It is also common for users to self-medicate for lack of sleep with depressant drugs such as cannabis.

Dealing With Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal Symptoms Of Cocaine Addiction

With cocaine addiction treatment comes the withdrawal period, which can be uncomfortable and even painful. Chronic users will experience intense withdrawal symptoms outlined below:

  • An increased appetite
  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness
  • Feelings of depression or anxiety
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Nightmares or night terrors
  • Possible suicidal thoughts
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
  • Sexual disfunction
  • Chills, tremors and muscle or nerve pain

A medical detox is recommended if the client has relapsed during past withdrawal symptoms, as well as observation, and hospitalisation. There are no specific detox medications to treat cocaine withdrawal, however medications that treat anxiety and depression can be used to stabilise a patient’s mood. Pharmaceutical treatment needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis, and efforts to avoid addiction to prescription medication must be taken.

Treatment Options

Cocaine Addiction Treatment Options

Effective cocaine addiction rehab addresses the misuse of cocaine and other mental health issues. At Tharagay we understand that cocaine addiction treatment needs to be tailored to each situation:

Inpatient Rehabilitation Programme

Tharagay Manor provides primary phase treatment for those suffering from cocaine addiction. These programs are tailored, focusing on individual and group counselling, addiction education, life skills, relapse prevention reinforcement, introduction to fellowship meetings and sponsorship, and the 12 Step Programme. We involve family in this process for them to understand the disease of addiction, as well as how to offer support.

Halfway House Or Secondary Phase Treatment

For many addicted people, the 28-day programme is a good base for recovery, but they might need further help, which is where a halfway house such as Tharagay House can be highly useful. This secondary phase in the treatment helps with relapse prevention and encourages healthy habits.

Sober Living Facility

Tharagay Place is our sober living facility. Sober living helps those who have recovered from cocaine addiction to continue their rehabilitation journey in a safe, stable environment. There are individual counselling sessions, community groups and family sessions.

Start A Healthy, Happy Life

Beat Your Addiction

Cocaine addiction can quickly become debilitating, but with the right help, you can beat it and start a healthy, happy life. Tharagay offers individual treatment options to guide you and treat all aspects of your addiction.