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Cocaine Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Cocaine addiction can have devastating consequences on individuals, families, and communities. Many people across the country struggle with cocaine addiction and in 2020, it was estimated that 5.2 million people over the age of 12 used cocaine in the previous year and an estimated 1.3 million had a cocaine use disorder.1

If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine addiction, know that it is a treatable medical disease. There are several cocaine treatment options available depending on your needs, and this article intends to be a helpful resource to understand more about cocaine and cocaine addiction treatment.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive, illicit stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which grows in South America.2  It produces a euphoric, pleasurable feeling that is very desirable but also comes with potentially severe consequences, including overdose.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies cocaine as a Schedule II substance, which means it:3

  • Has a high potential for abuse.
  • Can potentially lead to psychological and physical dependence.
  • Is considered a dangerous substance.

Cocaine is typically distributed on the streets as a very fine white powder. Crack cocaine looks like small, irregularly shaped white chunks or rocks. Powdered cocaine is often diluted by mixing it with other substances such as flour, talcum powder, cornstarch, sugars, and even other drugs such as fentanyl.2

Cocaine can be referred to as various names, including:4

  • Coke.
  • Coca.
  • “C”.
  • Snow.
  • Flake.

What Is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder in which a person continues to seek out and use the drug even though it negatively impacts their life.5

Dopamine levels in the brain are increased by cocaine use, which can cause intense feelings of pleasure, or euphoria. This makes cocaine highly desirable among users, reinforcing repeated use of the drug.

When used regularly, a person builds a tolerance, which means they must take cocaine more often to feel the same effects. Chronic use may also result in physiological dependence, which means that a person will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they abruptly quit taking cocaine or significantly reduce their dose.2

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is diagnosed by medical professionals as a stimulant use disorder. Specific criteria for stimulant use disorders are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). These criteria may help to determine if you or a loved one may be struggling with cocaine addiction.

You may be struggling with cocaine addiction and need to seek cocaine treatment if you or a loved one meets 2 or more of the following criteria over the past 12 months:5, 11

  • Cocaine is taken over longer periods than you had intended.
  • A large amount of time is spent in activities to help you acquire cocaine, use cocaine, and recover from cocaine use.
  • You have tried, on many occasions, to cut down, or control your cocaine use without success.
  • You experience a strong desire or craving to use cocaine.
  • Your cocaine use contributes to an inability to fulfill major obligations at home, work, and school.
  • You continue to use cocaine even though it has contributed to interpersonal problems or social problems.
  • Important social, recreational, and occupational activities are reduced or eliminated to use cocaine.
  • You repeatedly use cocaine in dangerous situations.
  • You continue to use cocaine despite it contributing or causing physical and psychological problems.
  • You develop a tolerance for cocaine which means you need to take more of it or take it more often to achieve the same “high”, or you experience a lessened effect with continued use from the same amount.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using cocaine or significantly reduce the amount you take.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

If you are seeking treatment for cocaine addiction, it’s important to find a program that offers individualized treatment plans that meet your unique needs. No two treatment plans are the same and your plan should take into consideration any co-occurring mental or physical health conditions, other substances you use, how long you’ve been using, as well as your individual genetics and history of substance use.

Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications for treating cocaine addiction. However, there are several behavioral therapies that can help you or a loved one get on a path of recovery.2 Treatment of cocaine addiction can be done in a variety of settings and at various intensity levels.

Inpatient Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Inpatient or residential treatment offers a safe environment for a person to get medically and mentally stable while focusing on the initial stages of recovery. People choosing inpatient cocaine treatment stay in the facility 24/7 with various levels of medical supervision.8 Services may include:7, 8

  • Medical detox.
  • Behavioral therapy.
  • Group therapy.
  • 12-Step facilitation.
  • Post-treatment aftercare planning.

Inpatient cocaine treatment may be a good option if a person has co-occurring mental health or medical conditions, has experienced a relapse following previous treatment, or lacks support at home.8

The length of inpatient cocaine treatment varies depending on the person’s needs, but can range from short-term 28- or 30-day stays to 60-day and 90-day rehab programs. Treatment professionals will evaluate and continually assess your treatment needs throughout rehab to make sure you are receiving the necessary level of care for the appropriate amount of time. While there is no set treatment length, research suggests that positive outcomes are more likely to occur with longer durations of appropriate treatment.12

Outpatient Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Outpatient cocaine addiction treatment involves a person visiting a facility to receive treatment while still living at home. Treatment can range in intensity levels and services may include:8

  • Medical detox.
  • Behavioral therapy,
  • Group therapy.
  • 12-Step facilitation,
  • Post-treatment aftercare planning.

The number of treatment sessions and hours per week at the facility will depend on the level of intensity you require, as determined together with a treatment professional. Time at the facility can range from 9 hours to 20 hours per week.7 Outpatient treatment may start out more intensive and then be reduced (or vice versa) depending on the level of treatment needed.8

Behavioral Therapy for Cocaine Addiction

Behavioral therapies focus on patterns of thinking that contribute to addiction and drug-seeking behaviors and have been shown to be effective ways to treat cocaine addiction.9 There are several types of behavioral therapies and often, more than one type is used. The following therapies have been shown to be effective when treating a person with cocaine addiction:

  • Contingency management uses the concept of positive reinforcement to reward abstinence from cocaine. Contingency management offers points or tokens for clean urine screens which can be collected and redeemed for a reward that is valuable and encourages healthy living.9
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is frequently used to help prevent relapse. CBT teaches people how to critically think and problem solve and cope with thoughts emotions and triggers that may contribute to relapse.9
  • Motivational interviewing can be helpful in guiding patients toward acknowledging their problem behaviors and committing to behavior change.14
  • The Matrix Model was developed during the mid-1980s specifically for individuals with cocaine and methamphetamine addiction. It consists of a collection of group sessions (emphasizing early recovery skills, relapse prevention, family education, and social support) and individual sessions, along with encouragement to participate in mutual-help group activities.14

Other forms of treatment may also be incorporated, as research has supported their use as adjuncts to traditional behavioral therapies. These may include: physical exercise, family and couples therapy, and mindfulness mediation.14

Cocaine Addiction Support Groups

Mutual-help or peer support groups can be an effective component of a person’s treatment as well as aftercare, to support the ongoing recovery journey. These groups can provide community and social support that helps encourage abstinence.10 Well-known support groups include 12-Step based Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Cocaine Anonymous, and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Mutual help groups not affiliated with the 12 Steps include SMART Recovery.

How Much Does Cocaine Treatment Cost?

Cocaine treatment costs can vary widely and depend on various factors such as:

How to Choose a Cocaine Treatment Program

There are several factors to consider if you or a loved one is looking for a cocaine treatment program. When looking for facilities and treatment programs, it may be helpful to ask the following questions:

  • Where are you located?
  • Do you accept insurance?
  • What substance use disorders do you treat?
  • What services and amenities are offered?
  • Do you serve specific populations (e.g., women, men, LGBTQ+, couples, working professionals)?
  • Do the facility and its staff hold any certifications or accreditations?
  • Do you treat co-occurring mental health conditions?
  • Do you offer medication management?

The Dangers of Cocaine Use

Small amounts of cocaine will cause intense euphoria and make the user feel energetic, talkative, mentally alert, and hypersensitive to sight, sound, and touch.13 There are significant dangers associated with cocaine use. Risk severity is determined by many factors including the amount of cocaine used, frequency of use, and how it’s used.

Short-term adverse effects of cocaine use can include:2

  • Dilated pupils.
  • Constricted blood vessels.
  • Nausea.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.
  • Tremors or shaking.
  • Muscle twitches.
  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature.
  • Restlessness.
  • Paranoia.

Some adverse effects are specific to the way cocaine is taken, including:

  • Nose bleeds, loss of smell, or difficulty swallowing due to snorting cocaine.
  • Extreme gum decay and oral problems if rubbed on the gums.
  • Increased risk for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases from injection.
  • Coughing, respiratory problems, and pneumonia from smoking crack cocaine.

Any method of use can at any time lead to stroke, heart attack, or seizures, all of which are potentially lethal and can result in death.

Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine overdose can occur upon first use or unexpectedly after using cocaine for a long time. The risk of experiencing a drug overdose is increased when cocaine is combined with other substances such as alcohol or opioids.2 Symptoms of a cocaine overdose can include:2

  • Trouble breathing.
  • Increase in body temperature.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Extreme agitation or anxiety.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Heart attack.
  • Seizure.
  • Stroke.

If you think you may be experiencing or witnessing an overdose, call 911 immediately as an overdose requires immediate medical attention.

Find Cocaine Rehab Centers Near me

If you or a loved one is seeking treatment for cocaine addiction, American Addiction Centers (AAC) is here to help. Call for free at to speak with our compassionate admissions navigators to learn about treatment options and check your insurance coverage. You are not alone, and help is available.

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