After long-term cocaine use, cocaine addiction recovery is almost universally an uphill battle. Despite their best intentions, many cocaine addicts relapse when the side effects of crack and cocaine hit with a vengeance. It may be somewhat comforting to know, however, that with some of the common challenges in cocaine recovery, there are effective methods to beat them after long-term cocaine use.
Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?
The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimated that 5.5 million people were past-year users of cocaine in 2019 and one million people had a cocaine use disorder. One reason those numbers are not lower is that cocaine is very addictive: It’s very potent high can hook even first-time users.
Using cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain, then prevents the brain’s ability to clear out the dopamine until the drug is completely gone from the body. It only takes about 15-20 minutes for the brain to again absorb dopamine, but this leaves the brain exhausted and unable to produce dopamine naturally. The result is a crash, with cocaine users and addicts needing to use again. Further complicating the issue, addiction can occur even after the first use.
Once someone tries cocaine, the highly addictive drug can ensnare the individual in a short time. This can lead to dependence and then addiction. Long-term cocaine use carries challenges that are unique as well as common to other drugs of abuse.
Cocaine addiction, a chronic disorder, has a high rate of relapse. Besides being one of the illicit drugs most abused in the United States, cocaine is involved in more than 50 percent of the overdose deaths in this country. Cocaine use is often combined with other substances of abuse, which adds to the danger of overdose.
Challenges in Cocaine Recovery and How to Overcome Them
As is the case with many substance use disorders, cocaine recovery can involve multiple challenges. A case in point: Since a large proportion of people in cocaine recovery suffer from another mental health disorder (like depression, for example) the challenges of managing two diagnoses can complicate recovery and make it harder.
There are also physical and psychological challenges that present themselves when someone is in recovery from long-term cocaine use. On the physical side, crack cocaine tends to be more addictive than cocaine. In detox from cocaine, the psychological challenges tend to be more addicting than the physical ones.
Here are five challenges in cocaine recovery, with tips for how to beat them….
1. Intense Cravings
Even with a firm resolve to quit, when intense cravings and other withdrawal symptoms hit, many recovering cocaine addicts experience a relapse.
How to Beat It
Medically assisted detox helps ease cravings and urges that occur during cocaine and crack cocaine withdrawal. A 2016 systematic review noted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that acupuncture or relaxation response intervention helped reduce cravings and anxiety.
2. Overwhelming Withdrawal Symptoms When Stopping Use
Nobody wants to go through painful or uncomfortable withdrawal when quitting long-term cocaine use. Even those who have previously participated in cocaine addiction treatment and who think they can detox on their own and manage a cocaine relapse without outside can find themselves unable to withstand the often overwhelming withdrawal symptoms.
Side effects of crack and side effects of cocaine after prolonged cocaine use vary by individual, but none is pleasant and few are easy to overcome alone. Indeed, crack addict can experience some serious withdrawal symptoms, including fever and even seizures.
While detoxing from cocaine usually takes only a few days, during that time someone undergoing detox to overcome cocaine addiction often experiences difficult symptoms. These can include:
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of enthusiasm for living
- Sleep difficulties
How to Beat It
Getting professional help through additional treatment at an inpatient or residential drug and alcohol rehab center, or entering in-hospital treatment, or taking part in outpatient services that may be available is the best way to deal safely and effectively with cocaine detox and treatment following long-term cocaine use.
Managing stress is beneficial for everyone, especially those in recovery from cocaine addiction and the side effects of crack and other substance use disorders.
How to Beat It
Yoga is often cited as helpful in improving symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety experienced by those in cocaine recovery. According to the NIH, 17 studies on managing stress with yoga showed improvement in physical and psychological stress-related issues. Ten studies showed beneficial improvement in general mental wellbeing and resilience using yoga.
Try different forms of yoga, including Kundalini, guided, body scan, focused, visualization, movement, loving-kindness, mindfulness, mantra, and Vipassana. The latter requires a higher commitment level, as it involves 10 days of silence and body scans, although some participants have found Vipassana yoga practice helpful in healing from substance abuse. Kundalini may be easier to utilize to manage stress and pain.
Spirituality and prayer, as well as mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques, can help ground the individual and relieve anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, mood disturbances, and other stress-related symptoms.
Triggers include the sights and sounds of people, places, and things associated with past cocaine use.
How to Beat It
First, identify the triggers and then learn what works to effectively deal with them. It may be that environmental changes are necessary. Getting rid of all cocaine paraphernalia is a must. It’s also wise to stop associating with cocaine and other drug users.
5. Easy Street Availability of Cocaine
Cocaine, including crack cocaine, is readily available on the street for those seeking to score the drugs to satisfy their addiction. Recovering cocaine addicts face the challenge of being tempted to use the drug again once they’re clean and sober. Without strong coping mechanisms in place, it’s highly likely recovering cocaine addicts will return to use.
How to Beat It
The best way to beat the easy availability of cocaine is to make use of the tools and strategies learned during cocaine rehab to learn how to refuse to engage with cocaine and walk away from the temptation to use again.
Why Professional Help Is Often the Right Solution
Getting back on track following relapse, or seeking help for the first time after long-term cocaine use, is a tough yet necessary approach if genuine sobriety is the goal. Research suggests that cocaine addiction rehab should last at least 90 days to increase the likelihood of maintaining sobriety.
In a quality rehab center, medical professionals skilled in treating cocaine addiction are there 24/7 to supervise a medically monitored detox. At the same time, other treatments and behavioral therapies administered by addiction clinicians and specialists can address the individualized roots of long-term cocaine use. Some of these therapies include:
- Contingency Management – which reinforces positive behaviors with rewards that are low-cost.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – which assists in improving coping skills and altering maladaptive behaviors. Including CBT within an integrated treatment program helps the recovering cocaine addict identify and replace unhealthy thoughts and behaviors while developing new and healthier ways of functioning.
- Matrix Model – which combines individual, group, and family therapy with relapse prevention and education about addiction. Individual and group counseling helps those in recovery from long-term crack or cocaine use heal psychologically.
There’s no need to go it alone when facing the challenges of cocaine recovery. At FHE Health, we have helped many people overcome these hurdles and find freedom from crack or cocaine addiction. Contact us today to get started.