August 1, 2023

How Addictive is Cocaine?

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There is minimal research focused on the treatment of cocaine addiction and other stimulant use disorders.

Cocaine addiction is the informal term for cocaine use disorder. There are no medications currently approved by the FDA for the treatment of cocaine addiction.

Despite the lack of pharmacological interventions proven safe and effective for easing the intensity of cocaine withdrawal, most cocaine addictions respond favorably to treatment. This typically takes the form of one of several evidence-based behavioral interventions in either an inpatient or outpatient rehab. Behavioral therapies can be effective due to the powerfully psychological aspect of cocaine addiction. 

How addictive is cocaine, then?

Is Cocaine Highly Addictive?

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) reports that cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant narcotic.

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) publishes data annually from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. NSDUH 2020, the most current survey, shows that both past month and past year cocaine use have declined since the data reported in NSDUH 2019.

Regrettably, cocaine addiction is on the rise, up from 1 million over-12s with cocaine use disorder in 2019 to 1.3 million with cocaine use disorder in 2020. Fortunately, 492,000 of those engaged with professional addiction treatment.

Cocaine addiction can develop rapidly regardless of the form of the route of delivery. This can be a psychological addiction, a physical dependence, or both.

Why is Cocaine so Addictive? 

Well, the sustained use of cocaine will prompt you to crave the drug’s rewarding effects. Cocaine addiction is characterized by the compulsive use of cocaine in the face of clearly negative outcomes. This occurs due to the functional and structural brain changes triggered by cocaine abuse and addiction. 

Habitual cocaine use causes tolerance to the drug to develop. This means you’ll need more cocaine to achieve the same effects, or you’ll need to take more frequent doses of cocaine. Either way, the neurobiological changes make it challenging to resist the intensely powerful cravings you will get for cocaine.

Most people attempting to stop using cocaine when cocaine addiction has set in find that a powerful psychological dependence is more troublesome than physical withdrawal symptoms. 

If you suspect a friend or family member might be abusing cocaine, there are many common signs of cocaine addiction.

Cocaine Addiction Signs

The signs of cocaine addiction can be grouped as follows:

    • Physical signs of cocaine addiction
    • Psychological signs of cocaine addiction
    • Behavioral signs of cocaine addiction


    Physical signs of cocaine addiction 

      • Persistent nosebleeds
      • Runny nose
      • High energy levels
      • Restlessness
      • Elevated body temperature
      • Dilated pupils
      • Heavy perspiration
      • Breathing problems
      • Diminished appetite
      • Significant weight loss
      • Hypertension
      • Liver damage
      • Kidney damage
      • Insomnia
      • Tolerance to cocaine
      • Cognitive impairment
      • Blacking out
      • Heart attack


      Psychological signs of cocaine addiction

        • Agitation
        • Irritability
        • Depression
        • Excessive confidence
        • Mood swings
        • Temporary sense of euphoria
        • Problems with decision making
        • Psychosis


        Behavioral signs of cocaine addiction

          • Trying to borrow money
          • Stealing money
          • Dishonesty regarding activities
          • Talking excessively
          • Impulsive and reckless behaviors
          • Inability to moderate or discontinue cocaine use
          • Social withdrawal from loved ones
          • Prioritizing friends who use cocaine
          • Failing to meet personal and professional obligations
          • Spending lots of time using cocaine
          • Losing interest in previously favored activities
          • Using other substances in combination with cocaine
          • Continuing to use cocaine regardless of the consequences


          Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

          The symptoms of cocaine addiction are outlined in DSM-5-TR, the most recent revision of APA’s benchmark diagnostic reference guide, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

          Cocaine use disorder, also known as stimulant use disorder, is diagnosed as mild, moderate, or severe depending on your responses to variations on the following eleven questions:

            1. Have you consumed more cocaine than planned or used cocaine for longer periods than intended?
            2. Do you spend excessive lengths of time obtaining and using cocaine, as well as recovering from its effects?
            3. Have you often used cocaine in hazardous situations, such as when driving or operating machinery?
            4. Do you need more cocaine to achieve the same rewarding effects as tolerance builds?
            5. Are you spending less time on hobbies and interests due to your cocaine use?
            6. Have you more than once unsuccessfully attempted to stop using cocaine?
            7. Do you get cravings for cocaine so powerful you can think of nothing else?
            8. Are you neglecting your personal and professional commitments due to cocaine use?
            9. Have you experienced cocaine withdrawal symptoms as the effects of the drug wear off?
            10. Are you still taking cocaine even though it’s inflaming a psychological or physical health condition?
            11. Do you continue to use the drug despite obviously negative outcomes?


            Cocaine use disorder is diagnosed as follows: 


                • Mild cocaine use disorder: 2 to 3 symptoms

                • Moderate cocaine use disorder: 4 to 5 symptoms

                • Severe cocaine use disorder: 6 or more symptoms

              How to Stop Cocaine Addiction

              In almost all cases of cocaine addiction and withdrawal, symptoms can be best managed in a licensed medical detox center.

              Engaging with a supervised medical detox will make the cocaine withdrawal process as safe and comfortable as possible.

              Some people with mild or moderate cocaine addictions find that most withdrawal symptoms dissipate within a day or two. The symptoms experienced during more severe cocaine withdrawal can persist for four or five days, seldom lasting for more than a week.

              Although you cannot benefit from medications to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, you will have emotional care on hand, helping you to resist cravings for cocaine without succumbing to temptation and relapsing. 

              If you are concerned about cocaine addiction, you should first consult your healthcare provider. Voice your concerns and ask for a referral to a mental health professional or addiction specialist. Inquire about the most effective forms of treatment for cocaine withdrawal and recovery. 

              You should also share your struggle with trusted loved ones. Asking for help and support can strengthen your chances of getting back on track rather than slipping back into active cocaine addiction.

              Ask friends and family if they can recommend an addiction treatment facility. With 40 million people in the U.S. diagnosed with substance use disorder, there is a strong chance that someone in your social network may suggest suitable rehab centers. 

              You could consider joining a peer-support group like Cocaine Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Attending local group meetings allows you to share your experiences with others battling addiction to cocaine or other drugs. 

              Research indicates that the majority of mild and moderate cocaine addictions respond just as well to intensive outpatient therapy as inpatient treatment. Both IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs) should provide a robust framework with sufficient structure and support to initiate your recovery.

              The absence of approved medications for the treatment of cocaine addiction means that behavioral interventions are typically the primary therapies. 

              According to SAMHSA, the following treatments are advisable for cocaine addiction treatment:


                  • Psychotherapies: Psychotherapy is the clinical descriptor for talk therapies. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is proven effective for the treatment of addictions and mental health disorders. When applied to the treatment of cocaine use disorder, you’ll discover how to identify and avoid the people, places, and things that trigger you to use cocaine. Your therapist will also help you to develop and implement healthier coping mechanisms to cope with stressors in your everyday life without resorting to substance abuse.

                  • Community reinforcement: Community reinforcement is an intervention that will guide you toward building a supportive social network of sober friends to help you streamline your ongoing recovery from cocaine addiction.

                  • Motivational interviewing: Motivational interviewing is a type of behavioral intervention often beneficial in the early phase recovery from cocaine use disorder. A therapist will help you to conquer feelings of uncertainty concerning your recovery. This should help you to create a more optimistic and positive outlook.

                If you feel you are addicted to cocaine and you’re ready to kickstart your recovery, finding the right facility can be overwhelming. We can help you from detox to discharge and beyond here at Gratitude Lodge in Orange County.

                Help with Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Gratitude Lodge

                Choose from one of our affordable luxury rehabs at Gratitude Lodge in Newport Beach, Long Beach, or San Diego and move from active cocaine addiction into ongoing recovery.

                While there are no pharmacological interventions to streamline cocaine detox and withdrawal, you can take advantage of the following services to combat stimulant addiction: 


                  • Psychotherapy (talk therapies like CBT and DBT)
                  • Individual counseling
                  • Group therapy
                  • Family therapy
                  • Holistic therapy
                  • 12-step immersion program


                  We offer treatment programs at varying levels of intensity, from 30-day inpatient programs through to intensive outpatient programs.

                  To start the lifelong process of recovery, reach out to Gratitude Lodge by calling 888-861-1658.

                  how addictive is cocaine FAQs

                  Cocaine is highly addictive due to its ability to produce intense euphoria and feelings of pleasure. It can lead to rapid tolerance and dependence, making it challenging for users to control their drug use and increasing the risk of addiction.

                  Yes, cocaine is highly addictive. Its powerful effects on the brain’s reward system can lead to rapid development of tolerance, dependence, and compulsive drug-seeking behavior, making it one of the most addictive substances.

                  Beating cocaine addiction often requires a comprehensive approach that may include professional treatment, counseling, support groups, and lifestyle changes. Seeking help from addiction specialists, therapists, and support networks can provide the necessary tools and guidance to overcome addiction and maintain long-term sobriety.

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                  Joe Gilmore

                  Joseph Gilmore

                  Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
                  Jenni Bussi

                  Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

                  Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

                  Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

                  Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

                  Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

                  Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
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                  Holistic Therapy

                  Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
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                  An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
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                  Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
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                  Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

                  Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
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                  Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
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                  Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.
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