Making a full recovery from cocaine is important for several reasons. Aside from the obvious physical risks involved with cocaine addiction, there are numerous mental side effects. Did you know cocaine and depression often go hand in hand?
The longer an addict uses cocaine, the higher the potential for serious mental consequences. However, through a serious effort toward recovery and the right recovery program, many addicts find relief from these side effects.
The first step in assisting someone with cocaine addiction is to understand the effects on the user. The following section contains an overview of cocaine effects.
An Overview of Cocaine Effects
Cocaine affects addicts in various ways, depending on the method of ingestion and duration of use. The frequency in which an addict also uses significantly affects the severity of effects.
The physical effects are also the first thing that comes to mind regarding cocaine addiction. Listed below are some of the most common physical cocaine effects.
- Users will experience elevated heart rates and high blood pressure. A significant risk exists for heart attack, stroke, and other heart-related issues. Many addicts also experience challenges with blood vessels and artery constriction.
- Significant risks exist for area-specific damage depending on the method of ingestion. Users that smoke cocaine will experience lung issues and serious breathing problems. Throat and mouth issues may also manifest, including ulcers and other infections. Snorting cocaine presents the risk of a deviated septum and deterioration of the nose structure. Users also risk contracting serious facial skin infections as well. When the drug is administered on an IV basis, the chances are high that users develop abscesses and other infections related to needle use. There is also a significant threat for HIV and Hepatitis.
- Users also develop stomach and colon issues from continued cocaine abuse. It’s not uncommon for addicts to develop issues with the GI tract and challenges with food digestion. The acid contained within cocaine can also trigger stomach ulcers.
Despite the severity and high risk for physical side effects, cocaine and mental health should be taken very seriously.
Cocaine and Mental Health
Cocaine and mental health are interconnected in the lives of addicts. Because of the stimulating and psychoactive properties of the drug, cocaine poses a significant risk of completely rewiring a user’s brain.
The longer addicts engage in abuse, the more significant the issues. Cocaine interacts with chemicals and neurons in the brain that plays roles in confidence, enjoyment, and happiness. When these neurons and chemicals become activated in the wrong manner, the potential exists for long-term mental health issues.
Many users display signs of neurological and cognitive issues. It’s not uncommon for long-term addicts to develop a stutter and inability to process complete thoughts. Cocaine also affects short-term memory and decision-making functions.
Long-term cocaine use and symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal have been known to cause the following mental health issues:
- Many recovering addicts and active cocaine users develop issues with bipolar disorder. The wide range of emotions and roller coaster ride of cocaine often causes users to develop intense mood swings that impact them for the rest of their lives.
- Cocaine-induced psychosis is usually a short-term problem, although side effects may extend for long periods. This condition is often triggered by overuse or overdose of the drug and produces side effects such as hallucination, paranoia, violent tendencies, and extreme anxiety.
- Cocaine withdrawal also produces a high level of depression in many recovering addicts. The lack of the body’s ability to produce feel-good chemicals such as dopamine prevents individuals from becoming naturally happy. This is especially prevalent in users that use cocaine to combat depression initially.
- In certain cases, many cocaine users develop issues with gambling. Cocaine causes issues with spontaneous behavior and poor decision-making. This could be the reason why so many cocaine addicts turn to gambling during their addiction.
Many addicts name depression as a reason for turning toward cocaine. Is this a legitimate reason, and does cocaine help with depression?
Does Cocaine Help with Depression?
Cocaine may help with depression in the short term and only acts as a Band-Aid to cover the real problems at hand. Using cocaine for depression often leads to subsequent usage to obtain that feel-good high again.
However, a dependence develops when users must consume higher amounts of the drug to manifest these same feelings. Many times using cocaine for depression leads to the potential for suicidal ideation when the inevitable crash occurs after an expensive dose of cocaine as an anti-depressant.
The Suicide and Cocaine Connection
Unfortunately, a high rate of suicide exists among cocaine users attempting recovery. Because of the havoc wreaked on the dopamine and serotonin levels in the body, many users are unable to cope with the inability to experience joy and pleasure.
Anhedonia from cocaine is a common occurrence in the lives of many addicts. Anhedonia is the inability to experience feelings of joy, pleasure, and excitement. Users are unaware of treatment options and turn to suicide in many cases.
However, the existence of rehabilitation facilities is made exclusively for these issues. This is why it’s important for users to seek treatment and receive diagnoses regarding underlying issues.
Because of the risk for suicide and depression, self-medicating with this drug is incredibly dangerous. The following section outlines the risks of self-medicating with cocaine.
Risks of Self Medicating with Cocaine
Users that self-medicate with cocaine may experience temporary relief from the issues at the center of their addiction. However, engaging in this behavior can be extremely dangerous in the end.
Cocaine may end up only intensifying these conditions in the long run. Additionally, self-medicating leads to dependence and addiction when higher amounts of the drug are needed to produce relieving effects.
One of the most important elements of cocaine detox and rehabilitation is receiving dual diagnosis during treatment. Dual diagnosis cocaine treatment will identify underlying causes and allow addicts to remedy them correctly.
Dual Diagnosis Cocaine Treatment
Dual diagnosis cocaine treatment entails working with a counselor or psychiatrist to identify addiction’s underlying causes. Many specialists believe that mental health issues lead to addiction and not the other way around.
However, the relationship the two have with each other seems to be a revolving door. Treating one without treating the other leads to a failing effort in many situations.
Dual diagnosis cocaine treatment often identifies the following underlying mental health issues:
- Multiple personality disorder
- Anxiety/panic disorder
- Severe mental trauma
When users participate in dual diagnosis cocaine treatment, the chances of a successful recovery increase significantly. The underlying causes require the correct attention, and this treatment can prevent relapse.
However, these changes don’t happen for users battling their issues alone. Developing resources for support is vital in the battle against cocaine addiction and underlying mental health issues.
Developing Resources for Support
Developing resources for support in the fight against cocaine addiction is vital for a successful recovery. An addict must remain open-minded regarding these resources to give them the best chances and multiple options for success. Support resources may include but aren’t limited to the following:
- Cocaine detox and inpatient rehab
- Outpatient rehab options
- Support from family and loved ones
- Medical therapies
- Holistic therapies
- Peer groups and other meetings
- Individual activities and hobbies
All of the above elements may prove to be effective in cocaine recovery. By using multiple resources, individuals give themselves the greatest chances for long-term recovery from cocaine.
Long Term Recovery from Cocaine
Long-term recovery from cocaine is possible with the right amount of effort, willpower, and support structures. There isn’t one sole element or dynamic responsible for success, as it takes a combination of many for an addict to be successful.
Perhaps one of the most important characteristics regarding long-term recovery from cocaine is treatment or cocaine and depression. Because depression is so common among cocaine addicts, many times, treatment must be continued even after rehab.
Treatment for Cocaine and Depression
Treatment for cocaine and depression looks different for every recovering addict. Many addicts may experience success from continued therapy with counselors and psychiatrists.
Other users may prefer group meetings or engage in a certain activity or hobby. Regardless of the method, it’s important that focus remains on not only sobriety but treating depression as well.
The failure to continue to treat the underlying symptoms of addiction, such as depression, may result in a relapse in some cases. A strong support system consisting of family and loved ones is important for any recovering addict to continue thriving and progressing through stages of addiction.
One of the most important things to understand is that recovery never ends. It is a lifetime process that requires constant effort and attention. Users must always make a conscious effort to say no and abstain from use and show the right amount of attention to underlying conditions.
The underlying conditions may never go away, but there is a significant relief through education and therapy. Education, awareness, and motivation are possibly the three most important dynamics in the life of a recovering addict. With these elements and the right treatment and support system, beating cocaine and depression is very realistic.