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Stages of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant substance made from the coca plant. Illegal in the United States, the development of a cocaine addiction can depend upon the ingestion method. Cocaine can be snorted, ingested, or smoked as crack cocaine, the fastest way to develop a habit. Typically, users follow stages of cocaine addiction, resulting in a change in brain chemistry, intense cravings for the drug, and the possibility of overdosing. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association’s Annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health states 1.4 million people over 12 had a cocaine use disorder in the past year of 2021. Cocaine sends high dopamine levels into the brain’s parts responsible for controlling pleasure.

Overall, cocaine addiction develops because the drug induces an intense high with increased energy levels and alertness. A desirable level of happiness and extreme sensitivity to touch, sounds, and sight seem to outweigh the adverse irritability, paranoia, and angry outbursts.  

Dangers of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction can cause negative side effects involving brain chemistry and affecting significant organs. The brain adapts to the changes made in brain chemistry and requires more substantial doses to achieve the same desired effect as addiction escalates.

Heart, lung, and stomach problems develop the longer the addiction lasts. As the stages of cocaine addiction progress, the user finds it more challenging to sleep, which additionally creates cognitive and memory difficulties. 

Stage 1: Experimental and Recreational Use

Typically, curiosity is the cause of initially trying cocaine, and because of this fact, some people never use it again after the first use. Depending on the age group, some people try to fit in, and others may participate recreationally at parties or get-togethers.

After only a few usages, most people have no adverse consequences and have no intention of developing a cocaine addiction. Other reasons for using cocaine could be self-medication for depression or anxiety, which can result in chronic use. 

Stage 2: Dependence Develops

As the stages of cocaine addiction develop, continual experimentation and recreational use can lead to regular use. Regular use may not be daily, but perhaps every weekend or whenever a group gets together. As usage increases, the use habit develops, and changes can occur potentially thinking about help or therapy. Suddenly the user shifts into using the drug when alone and for certain reasons, like fatigue.

Although addiction is not present, thoughts develop about using cocaine more often. During this second stage, cocaine begins to affect lifestyle and relationships negatively. Quitting is still an option, but cocaine addiction is not far from developing. As regular usage increases, dependence grows. 

Stage 3: Abuse or Risky Use

Once users reach this stage, they use more than ever. Negative consequences begin to interfere with daily life affecting work, relationships, school, and every aspect of life.

Behavior changes occur, and although the user may not realize it, red flags appear in all aspects. If usage decreases or stops, withdrawal symptoms develop because dependence is present. 

Risky behaviors occur with cocaine abuse. The following behaviors indicate cocaine abuse is evident:

  • Financial problems occur, causing the user to ask for money, or stealing becomes acceptable
  • Users will ignore all responsibilities
  • The need to believe they are hiding the use of cocaine
  • Hiding drugs in convenient places
  • Developing a new group of friends 
  • A loss of interest in once-important activities occurs

Stage 4: Addiction and Withdrawal

The last of the stages of cocaine addiction, stage 4, represents total reliance on the drug. Typically, addiction is psychological and physical. Withdrawal symptoms occur when usage dwindles or stops. These symptoms are challenging, so users believe they must continue using the drug to end the symptoms. 

Cocaine addiction takes control of the individual and every thought and choice they make. At this point, addiction is at a crisis stage and a severe threat to the mind and body. Overdose is an ever-present risk, and most people with cocaine addiction are at rock bottom in stage 4. In these desperate moments, people with this addiction may want to seek help and wonder what happens in rehab

Health Effects of Cocaine Abuse

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine addiction affects the reward pathways in the brain. Negative effects on mood occur when drug usage decreases or ends, causing displeasure and elevation of sensitivity. Tolerance continually develops in cocaine addiction and with increasing dosages, overdose is a high risk.

High-increased doses of cocaine can cause irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia, and psychosis. It is not uncommon for users with frequent use of high dosages to develop auditory hallucinations. Users who snort cocaine can lose the sense of smell, develop severe nosebleeds, and have problems swallowing.

Smoking crack produces lung damage and can worsen existing cases of asthma. Lung damage from smoking crack can cause significant lung disease. Cocaine addiction can affect the gastrointestinal tract by reducing blood flow, leading to tears and ulcers. Weight loss and malnutrition often occur as a result of loss of appetite.

Heart problems can occur from cocaine addiction and the risk of stroke increases. Neurological problems occur with long-term use as well as movement disorders. Recovery from cocaine addiction can be challenging with a high risk of relapse. 

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Medical detox is the first step of treatment for cocaine addiction. Clearing the body of the toxic effects of cocaine can be managed with a medically monitored professional detox program. Each detox is a personal process and can range in time from a few days to months.

Overcoming the withdrawal symptoms can be managed by the medical team and overcoming the strong cravings for the drug is manageable by the mental health team. Drug Rehab is a strong recommendation for cocaine addiction after a successful detox. Individual therapy using cognitive-behavioral therapy is an evidence-based process of learning new coping behaviors to overcome cravings and address emotions and feelings.

Group and family therapy are proven methods for understanding how to live a sober lifestyle while repairing relationships damaged during the addiction. Relapse prevention information helps to address thoughts of using after rehab. 

There Is Hope for Successful Cocaine Treatment in Tennessee

The stages of cocaine addiction can lead to the destruction of all factors of life. For those who are seeking treatment for cocaine addiction, Freeman Recovery Center in Tennessee offers detox and several rehab options. Healing from this devastating addiction is possible and the compassionate staff is aware of how challenging rehab can be.

Contact Freeman Recovery Center today and find help to begin sober living.

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