Despite it being highly addictive and problematic for many Americans, cocaine use continues to grow in every state across the nation. What are the side effects of long-term cocaine use, though? With it being glamorized in Hollywood, can casual use be negatively impactful? In an article published in Refinery29, cocaine use doesn’t automatically constitute drug addiction. However, the “probability [of addiction] is high due to its interference with reward pathways in the brain.” As a result, many experts believe there isn’t much that would suggest cocaine is a casual drug even if its intended use is treated as a pick-me-up or a party drug.
Addiction often doesn’t occur overnight and detrimental habits may be formed even when cocaine is intended to be “fun.” If you or someone you love is battling with ongoing cocaine abuse, it’s essential to seek help. AspenRidge Recovery provides thousands of Coloradans with access to cocaine substance abuse programs that utilize evidence-based treatment modalities. Contact our licensed staff directly at 855-281-5588 for more information.
Cocaine: What Is The Problem?
According to many experts, addiction can arise as a progressive condition and is often dismissed or overlooked. While it’s true that addiction doesn’t happen to everyone, cocaine use can drastically increase the chances of an individual becoming physically or mentally dependent on the drug. Of course, there are a range of contributing factors such as:
- Childhood Experiences
- Historical or Recent Trauma
- Family History of Drug Issues
- Mental Health Concerns
Also, it’s essential to consider that with increased use comes increased tolerance levels leading many to seek more cocaine to achieve the same physical effects. The National Institutes on Health describe cocaine as a stimulant that is highly addictive. Part of its popularity is the burst of energy and the sudden euphoric high that occurs when dopamine, meant to be reabsorbed, instead lingers inside the brain. The power of cocaine can drastically alter how the brain chemistry and neurotransmitters are activated, which begs the question: what are the side effects of long-term cocaine use?
“Cocaine is one of the most psychologically addictive drugs because of how it stimulates and increases levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. It interferes with the pleasure and reward pathways in the brain.” – Nicky Walton-Flynn, founder of Addiction Treatment London
Cocaine Use Trends
More than 100 years ago, purified cocaine hydrochloride was extracted from the Erythroxylon coca plant. In the 19th and 20th centuries, cocaine was the main ingredient in tonic and elixirs used for treating several illnesses worldwide. Even Coca-Cola once contained the drug. Today, cocaine is defined as a Schedule II drug due to its high potential for abuse. This fine white powder is often referred to by other drug street names, including coke, snow, powder, or blow.
Even a single use can result in addiction for some. Unfortunately, even if the onset of addiction doesn’t occur immediately, users may still require increased amounts to produce the same high.
Over 867,000 people self-reported information that met the criteria for cocaine addiction or cocaine use disorder in 2016. With addiction so prevalent, understanding the side effects of long-term cocaine use is critical in preventing substance abuse’s continued upward trends.
In terms of overdoses nationwide, a CDC study linked cocaine use with nearly 15,000 deaths in 2018. Data and other studies suggest that cocaine is, indeed, one of the nation’s most addictive substances used by Americans aged 12 and older. It also continues to rank as one of the top five most heavily trafficked drugs worldwide.
Even as opioid-related deaths continue to soar, cocaine use—although comparably less deadly—remains constant. The drug fad for heroin, crystal meth, opioids, and other drugs ebbs and flows, and cocaine data holds steady. In 2017, nearly five million Americans were regular cocaine users, and, according to American Addiction Centers, Colorado Springs ranked in the top ten cities with the most cocaine use.
Cocaine Use in Colorado
Colorado has the third-largest percentage of adult drug users in the country. SAMHSA’s 2016 survey revealed that 1.98% of Colorado adults 26 or older used cocaine in the past year.
Colorado ranks twelfth in the consumption of illegal drugs. Since 2013, cocaine has ranked first in Denver among National Forensic Laboratory Information System drug reports.
Signs You Need Help with Your Cocaine Addiction
In many cases, family members recognize changes in an individual’s behavior due to substance abuse but may not know which drug is being used. When you know the signs of cocaine abuse and its long-term side effects, you can encourage your loved one to seek treatment and understand the risks of drug addiction.
Do these questions describe you or someone you love?
- Are you experiencing financial problems because of your cocaine use?
- Are you irritable and restless without cocaine?
- Do you find you need more substantial doses to get high?
- Are you using cocaine more and more frequently?
- Are you having withdrawal symptoms when you are not using cocaine?
- Is your cocaine use causing mood swings?
- Are you missing work or school because of your cocaine use?
- Is your cocaine use affecting your performance?
- Is your habit causing lying and stealing to get the drugs you crave?
What Are the Side Effects of Long-Term Cocaine Use?
Cocaine use, undoubtedly, is dangerous. Even in small quantities, cocaine can grab hold and quickly morph into a much more serious issue—one where licensed drug clinicians may need to intervene. While cocaine addiction isn’t an absolute among its users, there are specific long-term side effects that are just as sobering as facing the disease of addiction. These side effects include:
- Aortic ruptures
- Auditory hallucinations
- Clinical depression
- Damage to blood vessels in the heart and the brains
- Destruction of tissues in the nose
- Disorientation, apathy, confusion, and exhaustion
- Gastrointestinal tears and ulcers
- High blood pressure leading to heart attacks
- High risk-taking behavior
- Irritability and high mood disturbances
- Kidney and lung damage
- Malnutrition and extreme weight loss
- Reproductive damage and infertility (both men and women)
- Toxic effects on the heart and cardiovascular system
Financial Side Effects of Long-Term Cocaine Use
Drugs are costly to purchase, but there are other cost factors. Researchers have calculated that addiction’s economic burden is more than twice the cost of any other neurological disease. Additional expenses include healthcare and legal fees. Cocaine addiction also results in loss of income.
Social Side Effects of Long-Term Cocaine Use
Those with addiction to cocaine often cease associating with friends, family, and co-workers who are not drug users. The financial burden of cocaine use often rips the family unit apart. Family members may experience anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, worry, depression, shame, guilt, or embarrassment.
The economic strains of a cocaine habit may result in job loss or reliance on public assistance. This comes with guilt, embarrassment, and self-isolation. Using and obsession over getting the next fix often results in a lack of interest in hobbies, pastimes, or mixing and mingling with family and friends. Families experience relationship distress, tension, conflicts related to the user’s apathy, irritability, and mood swings.
Abuse, violence, and family breakup often result in separation or divorce. Children are frequently the target of abuse or neglect, culminating in removal from the home by Children and Youth Services.
Cocaine Substance Abuse Treatment
Recognizing the signs of cocaine use and addiction is an essential first step in seeking substance abuse treatment for yourself, a friend, a co-worker, or a loved one.
Help is available at a Colorado cocaine addiction treatment center.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse outlines several strategies for treating cocaine addiction. Beyond detox and treating the physical effects of cocaine abuse, agencies and service providers aim to:
- Identify the biological, environmental, behavioral, and social causes of cocaine dependence.
- Explore the physical, social, mental, and emotional consequences of cocaine use and addiction.
- Develop improved strategies for both treatment and prevention of cocaine use.
- Develop new and improved treatments to help people with cocaine use problems to achieve a drug-free recovery and maintain a cocaine-free lifestyle.
- Educate the public about the danger of cocaine use.
- Increase government funding for cocaine treatment research and providers.
How Can AspenRidge Help?
Recovery from cocaine addiction is not an unreachable dream. AspenRidge Recovery, accredited by The Joint Commission, offers effective support services and treatment programs with licensed clinicians that help to address cocaine addiction and the issues that surround it.
Our trained, board-certified counselors, therapists, and medical staff use evidence-based treatment modalities tailored to the individual. These proven strategies seek to treat the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual concerns which may be at the root of continued cocaine use.
Evidence-based techniques are continually expanded and improved as new innovative treatments are discovered.
- Group and individual counseling
- Online and face-to-face motivational interviewing therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Functional Family Counselling
- Assertive Community Therapy
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy
The cocaine addiction treatment programs at AspenRidge include individual, group, and family counseling sessions. Trained staff is effective at treating both cocaine use and its underlying co-occurring conditions.
AspenRidge’s Colorado cocaine treatment aims to give patients the skills to attain sobriety and succeed in their personal and professional lives.
What Can You Expect?
When you call AspenRidge’s hotline at 855-281-5588, a trained healthcare professional will answer your call 24/7. You will be linked to an intake counselor who will assess your needs and discuss the most appropriate treatment plan for your cocaine addiction. All treatment strategies are designed to help you deal with your addiction and learn the triggers of cocaine use.
As well as traditional sobriety measures, AspenRidge teaches ways to resist drug urges. Techniques may include:
- Motivational Interviewing Therapy: In this strategy, you, your support group, and your therapist your needs. Through interview format, your motivations for cocaine use will be explored. Healthy alternative behaviors and coping strategies will be explored.
- Recreational Therapy: Thus, the technique utilizes physical activities including jogging, hiking, canoeing, playing sports, rock climbing, horseback riding, kayaking, or surfing to build physical, social, mental, and emotional well-being. The aim is to help patients build self-confidence and take control of their lives.
- Neurofeedback Therapy is a non-invasive process that charts and analyzes the goal is to maximize positivity and reduce negative attitudes.
If you have decided to join cocaine-free graduates of AspenRidge’s cocaine abuse treatment programs, call us at 855-281-5588. We’re there to take your call 24/7. For more information on AspenRidge’s Colorado recovery centers, go here.