Cocaine Addiction

cocaine-1Cocaine addiction treatment requires a thorough understanding of the nature of this stimulant.  Cocaine can produce dramatic changes in brain chemistry over time so it is critical that those with cocaine addiction understand the physical and emotional challenges they will face during the early recovery period.  By setting clear expectations and arming you with knowledge, real-world tools, and coping skills we give you the best chance of long-term success. Speak Confidentially with a Promises Scottsdale Recovery Advisor at 888-478-0036.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug of abuse known for its ability to seriously alter normal conditions inside the brain. The drug comes in two forms—powdered cocaine and “crack” cocaine—that produce different but highly similar effects. Anyone who regularly uses cocaine has clear risks for developing the long-term physical and behavioral changes that signify the presence of addiction. The current medical consensus views cocaine addiction and all other forms of stimulant addiction as part of a larger condition known as stimulant use disorder.

The Basics

Powdered cocaine and “crack” both come from the chemical manipulation of substances that appear naturally in the coca plant. Powdered cocaine is the product of the basic processing of coca; in turn, “crack” comes from a secondary processing of powdered cocaine. Both forms of cocaine trigger an increased amount of activity inside the body’s central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), as well as heightened levels of a potent form of pleasure called euphoria. People who smoke crack experience a stronger form of these effects that fades away relatively quickly. People who inject a powdered cocaine solution directly into their bloodstreams also experience relatively strong, short-acting drug effects. The longest lasting, least intense cocaine “highs” come from nasally inhaling the powdered form of the drug.

Cocaine Addiction

However it enters the body, cocaine can produce long-term brain alterations in habitual users. Basically, these alterations cause the brain to treat cocaine as an essential component of its everyday mixture of chemicals. People who undergo this basic change in brain function have a chemical dependence on cocaine’s continuing presence. Cocaine addiction sets in when a person dependent on the drug starts to develop symptoms such as a recurring urge to participate in cocaine use, lack of control over how much cocaine he or she consumes, the onset of withdrawal when he or she gets less cocaine than expected or required, resistance to the drug effects of any given dose of cocaine and the establishment of a routine that stresses the importance of cocaine use and diminishes the importance of a generally functional lifestyle.

The stimulant use disorder diagnosis applies to anyone significantly impaired by the impact of cocaine addiction or any other form of stimulant addiction, as well as to anyone significantly impaired by the non-dependent abuse of cocaine or any other stimulant drug or medication. Doctors view impairment as significant when any given individual has at least two symptoms of cocaine/stimulant addiction or cocaine/stimulant abuse. The severity of the disorder increases with the number of symptoms present, and maximally affected people have a total of 11 separate symptoms.


There are no medications currently available that successfully help people recover from cocaine addiction. This means that cocaine treatment programs must rely on other means to help affected individuals. Two forms of organized therapy commonly used in cocaine addiction recovery are known respectively as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM). People participating in CBT-based programs learn how to identify the emotional/psychological viewpoints that tend to support drug use in stressful situations, they then learn how to replace those viewpoints with alternatives that don’t set the stage for drug use. People participating in CM-based programs receive cash incentives or vouchers for doing such things as submitting drug-free urine tests and staying actively engaged in the treatment process.  Speak Confidentially with a Promises Scottsdale Recovery Advisor at 888-478-0036.

Another form of therapy, called a therapeutic community, calls for recovering cocaine addicts to live together for anywhere from half a year to a year in a supervised community environment that emphasizes both group involvement and personal responsibility. Some recovering addicts also gain critical help from participation in 12-step mutual assistance groups that emphasize abstinence from drug use and provide sponsors to help keep the long-term recovery process on track.