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Is cocaine addictive and what are the symptoms?

In this blog Port of Call asks just how addictive is cocaine, what are the physiological and psychological effects of cocaine addiction, and what are the symptoms of cocaine dependency?

Is cocaine addictive

Cocaine is the seventh most addictive drug known to man according to research by the UK Government’s former top drug adviser, professor David Nutt, and separate studies by Dutch scientists. They assigned cocaine a “dependency rating” of 2.13 out of a scale of three, making it slightly more addictive than amphetamines but slightly less addictive than alcohol.

It is fair to say that Cocaine is an extremely addictive substance, one which may require treatment within a drug rehab facility.

Physical and psychological addiction

According to DrugScope, nearly 700,000 people aged 16-59 are estimated to take cocaine every year in Britain. The presence of cocaine in the brain causes confusion in neural receptors and inhibits the natural production of dopamine. Once dopamine production falls below a certain level, the brain begins to crave cocaine as its replacement, which therein is the physiological basis of cocaine addiction.

Physical dependence happens when a person begins to rely on the drug to function properly and can be characterised by intense cravings for cocaine, fatigue and an increase in appetite. The brain stimulation from cocaine use effectively creates a powerful craving to use more. Chronic users can become tolerant to the drug, and therefore used to the drug’s effects, which means that they need to take increasingly bigger doses to achieve the same feelings of euphoria.

The psychological symptoms of cocaine addiction usually manifest in a significant change to a person’s personality. Cocaine becomes their number one priority and they may lose interest in hobbies and other factors of their life that they’d normally consider important. They may also become obsessed with making sure that they’ve always got enough cocaine at hand.

The symptoms of cocaine addiction

General signs of drug addiction can include the following:

  • Neglecting responsibilities at school, work, or home because of your drug use.
  • Using drugs under dangerous conditions or taking risks while high.
  • Drug use is leading to legal trouble.
  • Drug use is causing relationship problems.

Addiction symptoms specific to cocaine usage can include:

  • Depression and anxiety.
  • Fatigue.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Inability to feel pleasure.
  • Increased cravings for cocaine.
  • Physical symptoms such as aches, pains, tremors, and chills.

If you notice any of the above symptoms in yourself, or someone you know and would like to help, contact our trained addiction counsellors for free please call us on 08000029010. We will be able to help you access the help you need.

Treating cocaine addiction

Treatment for cocaine addiction can take various different forms. Unlike heroin, there are no medicines that act as a substitute for cocaine. However, medication may be offered for other related symptoms like sleep problems.

Residential rehabilitation programmes are recommended in particularly severe or complicated cases.

Some people manage to quit cocaine on their own but evidence shows that for many a combined approach of social support and specialist drugs counselling produces the best results.

Mutual help groups, like Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, can also be helpful. They are based on the same 12-step programme as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Contact Port of Call now to find out more about our services for cocaine addiction. We can help you, or someone you would like to help overcome their addiction to cocaine.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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