Cocaine Treatment Tips

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Should I consider the use of medications to aid in crack/cocaine rehabilitation?

Medication and Crack/Cocaine Rehabilitation

The evidence is inconclusive regarding the use of medication in the assistance of crack/cocaine rehabilitation. During drug rehab, a prescription for benzodiazepines (i.e. Xanax, Ativan) is sometimes recommended. This decision is usually based on the physician's desire to ease unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia or severe anxiety. The dilemma is that people can develop a dependency on this class of drugs and they do not alleviate the long-term issues you will grapple with regarding anxiety.

They may alleviate short-term discomfort, but you may also find yourself addicted to yet another substance. Detox/withdrawal from benzodiazepines is sometimes worse than detox from crack/cocaine. While you should always consult with a doctor for your final decision, it is strongly recommended that you work with a doctor who specializes in the treatment of addictions.

How do I seek help for crack/cocaine intoxication?

How To Respond To Crack/Cocaine Intoxication

Cocaine can be referred to as crack, snow and blow, to name a few. The drug is highly addictive and you can show signs of intoxication, or become addicted to crack/cocaine after one use. If you use the drug and show signs of cocaine intoxication, such as excessive perspiration, chills, vomiting, chest pain, or muscular weakness, you MUST seek help immediately. Some options include:

-Checking yourself into an inpatient medical unit to receive help in detoxing your body.

-Go to the closest emergency room and be honest about the fact that you are currently high on cocaine/crack and ask for help. Let them know that you fear you are in trouble and that you want support. They are required to give you medical attention, and they will most likely refer you to another facility to deal with the psychological components of the addiction after you are safely detoxed.

How Do I Practice Long-Term Use Cessation from Crack/Cocaine?

Crack/Cocaine Rehabilitation: Gaining a Network of Support

Once you've given up crack/cocaine and committed yourself to life-long abstinence, you will need a network of support. It's important to know that despite quitting crack/cocaine, you will likely still experience distorted thinking and addictive tendencies.

The unfortunate side is that you will always have the disease of addiction. The good news is that unlike a terminal prognosis for a cancer patient, there is a solution to your problem. It is suggested that you quickly obtain a network of support through Cocaine Anonymous and that you attend as many meetings per week that you were using crack/cocaine. You should put as much, if not more, effort into maintaining your sobriety as you did maintaining your addiction. This may seem strange at first, but you will feel more comfortable around people who are like you.

How do I begin to rehabilitate from Crack/Cocaine Use?

Crack/Cocaine Rehabilitation: Early Stages

The research regarding crack/cocaine use and effective treatment is still in its infancy and inconclusive. However, some useful determinations have been made. It is known that the decision to opt for complete abstinence from drug use after detox is the most effective tool for avoiding recurring (and potentially life-threatening) abuse.

Some data suggests that relapse prevention models and cognitive-behavioral therapy for outpatient treatment is more effective than insight-focused psychotherapy. It is usually recommended that residential treatment and intensive outpatient support take place in the first stages of rehabilitation.

How Do I Cope with Multiple Addictions?

Multiple Addictions: How to Cope

Addiction is a disease that manifests itself in numerous ways. Many people with the disease of addiction struggle with multiple addictive "crutches." For instance, most people who have an addiction to crack/cocaine also have an addiction to alcohol. Many times the "primary" addiction, as it is referred to, seems to be the only one causing the user trouble at the time. However, one very common occurrence is that crack/cocaine abusers will stop using and find themselves drinking excessively or using heroine as a downer. Additionally, the "process" addictions (which are more components of the compulsive nature of the disease), such as gambling, work and sex will also simultaneously manifest themselves within the user.

While it's impossible to rid yourself of every addictive tendency when you cease crack/cocaine use, it is HIGHLY recommended that you cease use of all illegal substances when you decide to recover from a crack/cocaine addiction. If you don't, there is a strong likelihood that you will find yourself starting your recovery process all over again a year or two later.

What are some of the emotional effects of cocaine use?

Emotional Effects of Cocaine Use

Cocaine users may become anxious or paranoid because of the stimulating qualities of the drug. Many experience mood swings or inability to sit still, and aggression is common, particularly as the high wears off. Others suffer panic attacks or episodes that may seem manic. Occasionally, a heavy user may experience psychosis, with hallucinations leading to bizarre or suicidal behavior.

Users may also experience delusions of grandeur, leading them to attempt dangerous acts or believe themselves to be far more competent than they are.

By far the most pervasive effect of cocaine is its addictive quality, which may rob the patient of the ability ever to feel "normal" again without cocaine.

Because cocaine costs money and imperils a person's employability, it is the cause of significant damage to addicts' families, jobs, and communities.

What are some of the physical effects of cocaine use?

Physical Effects of Cocaine Use

People use cocaine for the sense of exhilaration it provides, but this is not long-lasting and requires greater and greater amounts of the drug to provide the same high. At the same time, the drug speeds their heart rate, increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack. Other immediate effects may include nasal irritation (for those "snorting" cocaine), sweating, vertigo, vomiting, and muscle jerks.

Longer-term effects of regular cocaine use include weight loss, dehydration, and decreased sexual performance and sensation. Injecting the drug poses a risk of spreading HIV and AIDS, and cocaine tends to act as a local anesthetic, meaning the user is less likely to know when an injection site becomes infected.

Cocaine also suppresses normal desires for food and sleep, which can lead to malnutrition, impaired judgment, and increased susceptibility to disease. Smoking cocaine impairs the lungs' ability to process air, leaving the user chronically coughing and short of breath.

How should I deal with crack/cocaine withdrawal?

Crack/Cocaine Withdrawal

If you have stopped using crack/cocaine, it's important to know about withdrawal symptoms.

After prolonged use, you may begin to experience such symptoms as chronic fatigue, increased appetite, insomnia or extreme agitation within only a few hours of your last use. The closer your withdrawal symptoms are to your last time of use, the more severe your addiction is. If you are experiencing these severe symptoms, you are in serious danger both physically and psychologically. At this point, the drug is no longer achieving that long-term high and you will never be able to consume enough of the drug to make you feel better again. You should receive medical attention at a drug rehab facility to assure a safe detoxification/withdrawal process, and follow it with an appointment with a therapist, an internist and a series of 12-Step Meetings. A nutritionist may also be helpful in rehabilitating your immune system, which is probably very weak.

Are there drugs to treat cocaine addiction?

Antabuse and Cocaine

Antabuse is a drug that has been around for decades as a treatment for alcoholism. In recent studies, it has been found to be effective, particularly in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy, in treating people recovering from cocaine addiction.

The drug works by causing unpleasant symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, when the patient consumes alcohol. One way it may work with cocaine users is to reduce the chance of social drinking, which can erode the inhibitions that keep them from relapsing. Research suggests that Antabuse may also act to exaggerate the unpleasant effects of cocaine use, thus discouraging future relapses.

What happens when people mix cocaine and alcohol?

Cocaine and Alcohol

Cocaine tends to speed up the user's nervous system, while alcohol tends to slow it down. Some users combine the two in the hopes of moderating the effects of one with the other. Instead, they're creating a deadly combination.

When people mix cocaine and alcohol, the two substances combine in the liver to form cocaethylene, which intensifies cocaine's euphoric effects (including delusions of grandeur). This combination is thought to increase the risk of heart failure and cardiac arrest, and many drug-related deaths occur among people using this combination.

Scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse studied the combination and found that people who used both cocaine and alcohol showed poorer performance on intelligence tests and more impaired decision-making skills than users of either substance alone.

How do users learn the skills to stay off cocaine?

Behavioral Therapy for Cocaine Use

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a common aspect of treatment for cocaine use. It is popular both because clinical trials have found it effective, and because it is relatively short-term and thus less expensive.

Rather than try to untangle the cocaine user's childhood or past issues, the cognitive-behavioral therapist focuses on the user's current situation, with a goal of reinforcing abstinence and teaching the patient skills such as:

-- Recognizing situations that are likely to lead to using cocaine

-- Avoiding those situations

-- Coping with current life stresses without depending on cocaine

Therapist and patient then work together on practicing skills such as planning for emergencies, managing cravings, refusing drugs, and understanding past episodes of drug use.

How Should I Address My Crack/Cocaine Addiction in the Workplace?

Crack/Cocaine Rehabilitation in the Workplace

If you have been at the same job for an extended period of time, it is likely that your boss/peers know about your drug problem. If not, the decision to disclose your medical/mental health issues in the workplace is always a tricky one.

Refer to trusted resources -- such as medical/psychological journals, instead of pop culture magazines -- for support in making this decision. A great article to begin with is "Should I Tell the Boss? Disclosing a Psychiatric Condition in the Workplace" by Diana Ballon, from Journal of Addiction and Mental Health 4(1), 13. It's also suggested that you ask other recovering addicts whom you respect and trust about their opinions and experiences on such matters.

How Do I Manage Other Mental Health Issues During My Recovery from Crack/Cocaine?

Crack/Cocaine Abuse and Mental Illness

Addiction is considered a mental illness according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (IV). There is a very strong link between all addictive processes and other mental illnesses. The research is inconclusive regarding which problem occurs first and it may be different for each person.

Depression (or depressive symptoms) is very common prior to use, during use and after use cessation. If you feel sad, lethargic, empty (a very common expression used by addicts), lonely, worthless, hopeless, or agitated, then you may be suffering with depression. If these symptoms are severe and persist over time, you may be experiencing a Major Depressive Episode. It is recommended that you work with a therapist/psychiatrist to determine if you need psychological or even medical support to battle this depression. Again, it is important to work with a professionally who is well-versed in the disease of addiction so that you receive optimal support. If you are feeling suicidal, homicidal, or having any hallucinations, it is crucial that you check yourself into an inpatient psychiatric facility to meet your immediate needs.

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