Years ago, people, even medical professionals, believed that a person couldn’t become addicted to cocaine. It was regularly prescribed for the relief of sinus problems and what was then called “female trouble.” Famous partakers of cocaine for ailments were Sylvia Plath and Queen Victoria, and neither one showed any signs of being addicted to the drug. Now people understand that a person can become addicted to cocaine, though not in the same way a person becomes addicted to opioids such as heroin.
Yet, as with heroin addiction, a person who is addicted to cocaine feels a compulsion to take it that they can no longer control. Obtaining and using the drug becomes the most important thing in their life, even though it may lead to physical, emotional, social and financial devastation. Since people can become addicted to cocaine, they can be subject to symptoms of withdrawal when they stop the drug. A person who is addicted to cocaine doesn’t endure the physical symptoms of someone who is withdrawing from an opioid or alcohol. They do not experience cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, tremors or gooseflesh. Yet, the symptoms are still uncomfortable. They are indeed uncomfortable enough for the person try to seek their drug of abuse at great risk to themselves and others.
What is Cocaine? What are its Withdrawal Symptoms?
Cocaine is a stimulant that’s made from the coca leaf, which is grown in South America. Most people take cocaine as a white powder that gives it one of its street names: “Snow.” When bought off the street, it is often cut with other substances such as sugar or cornstarch. This allows dealers to have more of the real product to sell and thus increase their profits. However, there are tales of wealthy addicted individuals who had their cocaine procured by a physician. In those cases, the person would know they were ingesting pure cocaine hydrochloride. But even pure cocaine can cause such side effects as dangerously high blood pressure, heart attacks or stroke. When cocaine is sold as crack, it comes in whitish chunks, or rocks.
Crack is smoked, while powder cocaine is usually snorted or, less commonly, injected after it’s diluted with water. Taking cocaine produces an intense euphoria called a “rush.” This is a result of the cocaine causing the person’s brain to flood their system with neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that affect mood. When the drug is smoked or injected, that euphoria hits the brain in seconds. The rush takes longer to experience if the cocaine is snorted. People who use cocaine develop a tolerance to it very quickly. This means they need more and more to get the same effects, and people experience a crash when the effects of the cocaine wear off. This crash is characterized by a days-long depression and exhaustion of the mind and body.
The symptoms can be so uncomfortable that the person longs to take cocaine again to banish them. Some people still experience unpleasant feelings even after they take cocaine to alleviate them, but their craving for the drug persists. A person who has become addicted to cocaine and decides to quit, or who simply doesn’t have access to the cocaine their body has grown used to, will experience withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include:
- General malaise
- Increased appetite
- Intense nightmares
Quitting cocaine for good is difficult, and people are often tempted to relapse, especially if they are exposed to triggers that remind them of their past cocaine use. These triggers can range from seeing the person who use to sell them the drug or people who used the drug with them and are still taking it. Other triggers are the sight of places the person associates with the drug, such as nightclubs. Some people continue to crave cocaine and experience depression months after they have stopped taking the drug. If the person can tough it out, the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal fade over time, even though that time can seem long. If the person believes that they need treatment, there is treatment to be had to help them heal from the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal.
Some addiction specialists encourage patients to seek treatment away from their neighborhood. This removes them from people, places and things that remind them of their addiction. How to Get Help If you need treatment to help you overcome a cocaine addiction or get through withdrawal, don’t hesitate to reach out to our professionals. Give us a call today at 833-497-3812. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day.