According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 35 million Americans over the age of 12 reported to having used either cocaine or crack at some or other stage. Cocaine addiction accounts for approximately 14% of rehab center admissions.
The drug is particularly addictive, both physically and mentally. The “high” associated with cocaine use tends to be short lived; with the result that many addicts tend to combine it with other drugs such as heroin, marijuana and/or Valium. Frequent bingeing or taking multiple doses at once is also common. For these reasons, cocaine is responsible for more emergency hospitalizations than any other illicit drug.
Treating cocaine addiction with medication
As it currently stands, no pharmacological treatment has as yet been developed for the successful treatment of cocaine addiction. Although several experimental medications have shown moderately promising results in clinical trials, these have not been approved by the FDA for treatment regimes.
Other medicines, such as Prozac and/or Disulfiram may be prescribed during the recovery process. Prozac is used to treat depression which is associated with cocaine withdrawal while Disulfiram, which is usually prescribed to treat alcoholism, has produced fairly consistent reductions in cocaine abuse.
Additional medications are also being developed to treat the frequent hospitalizations that cocaine is responsible for. Among these is a cocaine vaccine which is designed to block the entry of cocaine into the brain. Although still very much in a clinical trial phase, this vaccine shows great promise in preventing relapse.
As with any other form of addiction, the successful treatment of cocaine addiction is a complex issue. There is no “one size fits all” technique. What may work for some individuals may prove to be counter-productive to others. Although many patients are able to achieve sobriety through traditional 12 step programs, others find that these approaches are ineffective.
Research has shown that a 12 step approach on its own offers a reduced chance of successful recovery. Thanks to advances made in the fields of psychology and psychiatry, the more modern rehabilitation facilities are able to design a treatment regime which is specific to each individual case.
Individualized rehabilitation programs are able to include a range of behavioral therapies. These assist the individual in working towards achieving his or her goals. They help to identify triggers, teach the individual to cope with stressful situations which may trigger abuse, and help to develop strong and lasting support networks.
Behavioral therapy can be divided into four categories. These are:
- Group Therapy. This type of therapy aids the recovery process and teaches the addict how to deal with personal and unresolved issues.
- Cognitive therapy. This teaches the addict how to recognize and avoid situations in which they may find themselves pressured or wanting to take drugs.
- Motivational encouragement – recovering addicts respond well to a system of incentives and rewards. For example, failure to attend counseling could mean losing privileges while staying clean could be rewarded appropriately.
- One on one therapy with a counselor to discuss personal issues and play an active role in the recovery process.
When undergoing cocaine rehabilitation, it is important that the addict has access to a full range of holistic treatment services. These include attending group and family counseling meetings. It becomes important for the addict to realize that his or her behavior affects others too. Concerned parents, loving spouses and siblings all suffer when they see their loved one submitting to addiction.
Private and confidential therapy with a healthcare professional is important as it enables the addict to discuss any personal issues they may have. The patient may feel uncomfortable discussing his or her situation in a group. Here the healthcare professional will be able to answer their questions and deal with concerns without them feeling threatened in any way.
Education regarding the hazards of cocaine addiction is also fundamental to the recovery process. These programs teach the individual about the life-threatening situations they may be exposing themselves to. Having the option to partake in a healthy alternative lifestyle, which includes taking up a hobby or participating in a sport is also key to a successful rehabilitation.
Finally, while cocaine addiction is very serious, it is important to remember that all hope is not lost. With the right treatment and dedication, it is possible for addicts to recover fully and return to society as healthy and happy individuals.