Cocaine Regrets

Picture this. You wake in the morning with a headful of WTF. WTF did I say last night? WTF did I do? To the social cocaine user, it's an all too familiar ill-feeling. To someone suffering from cocaine addiction, it's the story of their life.

That ill feeling is called cocaine regrets. In 2014, that stat applied to nearly 1.5 million Americans. Of those about 913,000 met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for dependence or abuse of cocaine (in any form) during the past 12 months. So says the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) anyway. And since NSDUH is directed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), you can bet the numbers don't lie.

In other words, NIDA found out there's a whole lot of cocaine being shot, snorted and smoked in this country. And while the number of cocaine users and abusers remained relatively steady up till then, SAMHSA says an estimated 1.1 million Americans are thought to have tried cocaine for the first time in 2016. That's up from about 970,000 in 2015 and 900,000 in 2007. All evidence indicates that stat's increasing still.

Worse, that stat's gonna include an increasing number of fatalities. Indeed, investigations by Mother Jones and BuzzFeed have found that there's been a spike in cocaine overdoses, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. Why? Because dealers are now mixing cocaine with the deadly fentanyl. It's unclear whether most cocaine users are deliberately seeking out the potentially lethal drug combo. But any cocaine user who isn't expecting to take an opioid can easily overdose or die from the fentanyl. And death is unquestionably the worst of all cocaine regrets.

The Science of Cocaine Addiction

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According to the Drug Facts page from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cocaine increases levels of the natural chemical messenger dopamine in brain circuits related to the control of movement and reward.

"Normally, dopamine recycles back into the cell that released it, shutting off the signal between nerve cells. However, cocaine prevents dopamine from being recycled, causing large amounts to build up in the space between two nerve cells, stopping their normal communication. This flood of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit strongly reinforces drug-taking behaviors, because the reward circuit eventually adapts to the excess of dopamine caused by cocaine, and becomes less sensitive to it. As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses in an attempt to feel the same high, and to obtain relief from withdrawal."

Stronger and more frequent doses, of course, leads to cocaine addiction. Indeed, says NIDA, repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit, as well as other brain systems. And once that happens, a cocaine addict will do just about anything to keep those reward circuits firing away.

Getting Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Right now, behavioral therapy is the best way to treat cocaine addiction. That includes:

  • cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • contingency management or motivational incentives (providing rewards to patients who remain substance free)
  • therapeutic communities (drug-free residences)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy gets to the root of an addict's problems. Contingency management and motivational incentives reinforce the rewards of sobriety. And drug-free residencies allow folks in recovery from substance use disorders to help each other. It's much easier for an addict to understand and change their behavior while surrounded by strong sober support. It's even easier for sobriety to stick when an addict is involved with community based recovery groups such as 12-step programs.

Recovery Boot Camp offers all of the above and then some. We call it Basic Training, and the program that not only gets to the root of an addict's substance abuse issues, but it also helps deliver on the promises made by the 12 Steps. RBC is built upon the fellowship found in our adjacent Healing Properties sober living facility, so there's never a shortage of strong sober support. In other words, we provide you with the tools to succeed in sobriety. All you've gotta do it commit.

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