Cocaine is listed as a high abuse drug and is very addictive in nature. How cocaine addiction affects a person depends largely on the mode of consumption as well as the frequency and amount. Two main modes of cocaine use is through snorting as in inhaling it in powdered form and injecting oneself with a mix of cocaine and water. It is also at times smoked after it is turned into crystals; this form is commonly known as “crack”. Addiction to this drug has very common symptoms including hoarseness of voice, runny nose, irritability, paranoia and finding it difficult to swallow.
How does Cocaine Addiction Make Changes in the Brain?
The “high” that users get from taking cocaine is because it ticks the pleasure center of the brain. Dopamine is the feel good hormone which is generally secreted in normal amounts in our everyday life once the pleasure center of our brain is activated through fun activities that excite us. It is the same hormone that is secreted once the pleasure center is stimulated by the consumption of cocaine. But unlike the normal procedure by which dopamine is re-absorbed in the nerve cells, when it is secreted in large amounts through cocaine use, it is not re-absorbed at the same rate, if at all. It is because of this reason that users get the usual “happy high” feeling which is quite long lasting.
How does one get Addicted to Cocaine?
Once a person starts using this often, the brain sort of adapts to the high level of dopamine secretion and does not provide the same “high” as it did once with the equal level of presence of dopamine as before. So in order to get the same “high” you would now need to use more cocaine to secrete more of the “feel good hormone”, which makes a user feel the need for more of this drug. Learn more about how addictive is cocaine here!
Can Cocaine Addiction be Treated?
Yes, cocaine addiction can be treated but there are certain risks involved. The users who are firm believers in getting the usual “high” will aim to do so to intensify the feeling. This increases the risk of them to get off track while in rehab, and experience adverse psychological and physiological damage. Some cases can even lead to death related to cocaine abuse. It is hence highly essential to get the user treated as soon as they start showing symptoms.
How is Cocaine Addiction Treated?
One of the most difficult aspects for this treatment is that there are no supplements that will help the user get off cocaine use. It takes a lot of will power to either quit it completely or long term medication which mainly focuses on letting the user sleep for as long as possible in order to deal with the feelings of frustration and psychological effects. One of the most important steps to quit cocaine is to remove all equipment’s that were used during the cocaine addiction, like any blades, trays or containers used. Another important step is to stop seeing any friends that one was using cocaine with. Some people also choose to or are forced to go for residential rehab. Learn more about ways to quit cocaine addiction here!
Is Residential Rehab the Right Choice for you?
Only in case of severe cases of cocaine use, residential rehab is suggested as the best route to quitting. Some cases receive a daily set of programs that are developed by the local drug service. There are also many therapy options for all who find it hard to deal with cocaine addiction, although people with extreme psychological and physiological issues are mostly unable to connect or listen to their specialist drug counsellor, so this may not work for all addicts.
A study published by The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, which aimed to find the relation between cocaine addiction and stress showed that people with high levels of corticosterone (a stress hormone), were more prone to get addicted. It was also found that CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone) had a great role to play in being the motive behind this addiction. If abstinence is performed users can feel motivated to use cocaine on exposure to stress. So medications that can fight off stress can help one have a better chance if fighting this addiction.
Another study published the Trends in Neurosciences Journal, tried to find the role of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) on the aspect of addiction to cocaine. From this study carried out on rodents it was observed that ERK seemed to have a role in cocaine psychomotor sensitization, cocaine cues, consolidation, cocaine reward, and increase in cocaine craving during abstinence and more. It was concluded that any mode of pharmacological manipulation that would reduce the activity of ERK could help ward off cocaine cravings and reduce cocaine addiction.
It can hence be stated that both Corticosterone and ERK have major roles to play in inducing and adding to cocaine cues. While the stress hormone makes one more prone to resort to cocaine to feel the “high” and relax, ERK has direct roles to play in providing the self-rewarding experience through psychomotor sensitization that one gets when using cocaine. So in order to get off cocaine it is best to use medication to fight off stress directly and initiate actions to reduce ERK activity.
Stress and Cocaine Addiction – Journal of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics – 2002 – By Nick E. Goeders
Role of ERK in Addiction – Trends in Neurosciences Journal – 2006 – By Lin Lu, Eisuke Koya, Haifeng Zhai, Bruce T. Hope, Yavin Shaham