Cocaine abuse is the misuse of the drug cocaine. The cocaine abuse definition includes persistently using cocaine to obtain the high that accompanies cocaine use or using cocaine for the increased stimulation that it causes. Cocaine has a few medical uses in certain very specific situations, primarily in controlling nosebleeds, especially during or after surgery inside the nose. Cocaine misuse quickly leads to a cocaine addiction for most people that misuse cocaine.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is derived from the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine enhances the effects of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. This enhancement leads to a sense of increased energy and power. The increased effect of dopamine also causes the euphoric and pleasurable sensation that creates the high of cocaine.
People who hear about the effects of cocaine may wonder, “Is cocaine bad for you? If it makes you feel good and have more energy, what’s wrong with that?” There are several negative side effects that cocaine can cause. These effects are from the increased activity cocaine causes, and they include:
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Severe anxiety
- Problems sleeping
- Impaired judgment
- Sudden death from cardiac arrest
The increased rate at which your body has to work when you use cocaine can lead to these effects and can cause long-term damage to your body.
Common Cocaine Nicknames and Street Names
There are several common nicknames and street names for cocaine. These names include:
- Snow White
- Happy Trails
- Nose Candy
Many of these names are based on the white, flaky appearance of cocaine.
How Addictive Is Cocaine?
People who use or are using cocaine may wonder, “Is cocaine addictive, and if so, how addictive is coke?” Statistics show that approximately 25% of those who start using cocaine recreationally will develop an addiction to cocaine. Many times people addicted to cocaine will not take the important step of realizing that they have an addiction and will remain in a state of denial.
Why is Cocaine Addictive?
Cocaine is addictive due to the physical and psychological effects that it has on the brain. Often, cocaine addiction results from some combination of these two factors.
Physical Addiction to Cocaine
Physically, cocaine is addicting because of an effect called dependence. As the brain and body become adjusted to the chemical changes that cocaine causes, they start needing cocaine to continue functioning normally. This need can lead to withdrawal symptoms when cocaine use stops. The body, as it needs cocaine to continue normal functioning, creates cravings for cocaine that many people find irresistible.
Psychological Addiction to Cocaine
Psychological addiction to cocaine occurs when cocaine fulfills a psychological need. The increased energy and stimulation that cocaine causes may make the person using cocaine feel better about interacting in social situations. The high that cocaine creates may help someone overcome feelings of inadequacy or depression. There are different psychological needs that someone may attempt to treat using cocaine. The common factor will be that cocaine is used to help cope with a psychological need. This commonality means that the person using cocaine needs cocaine to help them continue to cope with the initial psychological need.
Cocaine Addiction Rates and Statistics
In 2014, a National Survey on Drug Use and Health study found that 1.5 million people over age 12 used cocaine within the last month. This same study found that within the previous 12 months, 913,000 people met the diagnostic criteria for being addicted to cocaine. This statistic means that 0.4% of the population in the United States is addicted to cocaine. Using these statistics it is possible to calculate a rough addiction rate of cocaine for recreational cocaine users that is about 60%. Other statistics vary, with one study finding the cocaine addiction rate for recreational cocaine users to be 25%.
How Is Cocaine Abuse Diagnosed?
Cocaine abuse must be diagnosed by a licensed doctor who will take a variety of individual factors into consideration. Ultimately, the doctor will likely use several criteria out the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5) to evaluate if you have a cocaine addiction. Typically, diagnosis depends on having at least two of the following criteria:
- Hazardous use of the drug
- Social or interpersonal problems related to use the drug
- Neglected major responsibilities to use the drug
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
- Developing a tolerance
- Using larger amounts
- Repeated attempts to quit or control the use of the drug
- Excessive time spent using the drug
- Physical or psychological problems related to the use of the drug
- Activities replaced by drug use
Everyone’s addiction is unique and it ultimately requires individual assessment by a doctor to diagnose someone with cocaine abuse.
Therapies and Approaches to Cocaine Abuse Treatment
As the drug clears from the system, treatment shifts to developing coping mechanisms that help maintain continuous sobriety. This shift can involve medications and therapies. A commonly used therapy that many find helpful is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which involves learning about the underlying motivations behind our behaviors and learning how to change those motivations so that it will lead to a change in behavior. Long-term treatment will involve a follow-up to ensure that sobriety is maintained.
Cocaine Addiction Recovery Rates
According to one study, about 60% to 78% of those who attempted to quit using cocaine on their own experienced a setback. Treatment and therapy can improve the odds of maintaining abstinence by as much as 50%, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Key Points: Cocaine Abuse
There are several key points to keep in mind regarding cocaine abuse:
- Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug
- Cocaine use has several dangerous and potentially deadly side effects
- Cocaine addiction can be physical and psychological
- Cocaine addiction must be diagnosed by a doctor
- Recovery rates for cocaine addiction improve with treatment
If you or a loved one live with cocaine addiction or are using cocaine recreationally and want to stop, it’s time to seek professional help. The Recovery Village provides care to those struggling with cocaine. Reach out to one of our knowledgeable representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Study Ranks Recovery Assets in Cocaine Addiction.” July 2015. Accessed May 22, 2019. Hasin, Deborah S. “DSM-5 Criteria for Substance Use Disorders: Recommendations and Rationale.” The American Journal of Psychiatry, August 2013. Accessed May 22, 2019. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States?” May 2016. Accessed May 22, 2019. Heller, Jacob L. “Cocaine withdrawal.” Medline. March 31st, 2017. Accessed May 22, 2019. O’Mally, Gerald F. & O’Mally, Rika. “Cocaine.” Merck Manuals. March 2018. Accessed May 22, 2019. NACBT. “What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?” May 16, 2016. Accessed May 22, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Study Ranks Recovery Assets in Cocaine Addiction.” July 2015. Accessed May 22, 2019.
Hasin, Deborah S. “DSM-5 Criteria for Substance Use Disorders: Recommendations and Rationale.” The American Journal of Psychiatry, August 2013. Accessed May 22, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States?” May 2016. Accessed May 22, 2019.
Heller, Jacob L. “Cocaine withdrawal.” Medline. March 31st, 2017. Accessed May 22, 2019.
O’Mally, Gerald F. & O’Mally, Rika. “Cocaine.” Merck Manuals. March 2018. Accessed May 22, 2019.
NACBT. “What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?” May 16, 2016. Accessed May 22, 2019.