Sobriety Home Foundation

Cocaine Addiction

Sobriety Home Foundation remains one of the best drug addiction treatment facilities in Canada. Located in idyllic Godmanchester County, we provide individuals struggling with substance use disorders a variety of evidence-based addiction services and addiction treatment options. At Sobriety Home Foundation, individuals living with cocaine addiction have access to individualized cocaine recovery programs with a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. It is our goal to provide our patients with individualized evidence-based addiction treatments to move towards living a cocaine-free life. Patients at Sobriety Home Foundation can look forward to the following:

  • Detoxification from cocaine
  • Cocaine treatment in a residential setting
  • Cocaine intervention
  • Rehabilitation from cocaine
  • SMART Recovery Meetings

Cocaine – What is it?

Cocaine (aka: coke) is an illicit drug that often comes in the form of a white powder. Originally, it was extracted from the coca plant and used for medicinal purposes. However, it became a popular substance among civilians towards the mid to late eighties. As it happens, the invention of “crack” cocaine is what introduced the drug to lower socioeconomic city areas. It has served as a cheap alternative to pure powder by cutting it with baking soda. This crystalizes the drug into a smokable form which produces more rapid effects. Conversely, coke in powder-form gained a reputation among rich and powerful individuals which perpetuated its use among upper-class individuals. In the powder form, it is insufflated (snorted). Overall, usage of this drug tends to be concentrated within certain demographics in Canada such as street-involved individuals or youth.

Cutting a line of cocaine, also known as coke or blow.

Cocaine Addiction – What does it look like?

This drug is an extremely addictive drug. Roughly 0.8% of Canadians over the age of 25 use cocaine. Moreover, usage is higher among youth ages 15 – 24 at 3.5%. In fact, it is the third most used substance in Canada. In Montréal, coke accounts for 60% of recreational drug use, 61% of drug use in street-involved adults and 50% of street-involved youth. Thus, cocaine accounts for a high proportion of drug use in Canada.

First-time coke users are at risk for addiction, especially with crack. Researchers credit the inhibition of dopamine reuptake by neurons as the cause for both the addictive and stimulating properties of the drug. In other words, coke blocks a neuron’s ability to recycle already released dopamine into the brain. The addiction is so powerful that animal studies have shown once rats and monkeys learn how to self-administer the drug, they will spend most of their time doing only this. As it happens, they will resist eating, sleeping, and other functions of survival to self-administer the drug for as long as possible.

Man putting a small baggie of Cocaine in his back pocket.

Addiction cues have also been linked to compulsive coke-seeking behavior. In other words, when individuals who are addicted to cocaine encounter a cue associated with the drug (e.g., crack pipe, alcohol, familiar places, etc.), their heart rate will rapidly increase in conjunction with intense feelings of craving. This immediately drives the individual to seek out the drug.

Finally, the development of tolerance through prolonged use is another driver for addiction. When individuals consume cocaine on a daily basis, they build a significant tolerance for the drug. This subsequently requires consumption of larger doses to achieve the same effects or to dissipate symptoms of withdrawal.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine

  • Increased energy
  • Increased alertness
  • Euphoria
  • Increased body temperature
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stroke
  • Fainting
  • Overdose

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Tolerance
  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Kidney failure
  • Throat and lung damage
  • Headaches
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Problems with memory and attention

Intoxication and Overdose

Overdose is a serious concern in individuals with a coke addiction as it can happen unexpectedly and easily. Typically, initial signs of intoxication can include acute agitation, seizures, strokes, or overheating. These can be accompanied by psychosis, blood clots, or rhabdomyolysis. Organ failure and heart attacks are other serious consequences of an overdose. In addition, some individuals may experience failure or complications in the respiratory system. This is most common in individuals who smoke crake. A common consequence of chronic crack smoking is “crack lung”, which causes alveolar hemorrhaging (i.e. bleeding in the lungs). Furthermore, it can worsen already present asthma problems.

Pharmacology

Blood and liver-borne enzymes break down cocaine into 12 different inactive metabolites. Of the 12, norcaine is the only active substance. As previously mentioned, coke prevents the proteins in the brain responsible for maintaining neurotransmitter concentrations from doing its job. Therefore, there are excess amounts of dopamine, serotonin (5-HT) and norepinephrine in specific brain areas when one consumes cocaine.

Dopamine is a major neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure. Normally, it is released by neurons and then taken back up into the neuron by transporter proteins. These proteins are not able to recycle dopamine when cocaine is in the brain, leading to an excess circulating dopamine. This occurs in nucleus accumbens of the brain which, in turn, produces the hallmark feelings of euphoria associated with this drug. However, the neurotransmitter eventually becomes depleted, leading to subsequent depression and symptoms of withdrawal when the drug leaves the system. This is part of the addiction process. These symptoms drive the urge to seek out the drug in addition to tolerance.