Cocaine Addiction Treatment Scottsdale | Phoenix

Dr. Jack Shier, Psychiatrist in Scottsdale, AZ specializes in the treatment of cocaine addiction. Our private outpatient clinic offers a comprehensive psychiatric/medical assessment and treatment plan. Treatment may include medications, behavioral therapies or a combination of treatments.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant derived from leaves on the South American coca plant; it is widely known for its addictive properties. Cocaine can be snorted, rubbed into gums, injected or smoked. In its most common street form, cocaine is a fine, white powder.

What is Cocaine Used For?

Cocaine is an illegal substance most often used recreationally. Historically, however, it has been used by healthcare providers for valid medical reasons such as anesthesia.

What are the Effects of Cocaine?

The effects of cocaine, which generally appear immediately and take minutes to an hour to disappear, may include dilated pupils, nausea, increased heart rate, body temperature, increased blood pressure, constricted blood vessels and/or tremors. Individuals may experience extreme energy, irritability, hypersensitivity of the senses, and paranoia. Some individuals report heightened performance and concentration on mental and physical tasks after using cocaine, while others report deficiencies. When used in large amounts, violent or bizarre behavior is possible.  The intensity and immediacy of these effects depend on the method of use; the injection or inhalation of cocaine are associated with stronger, more immediate effects, however, these effects subside quicker than when cocaine is snorted. The duration of the high may range anywhere from 5-30 minutes.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?

Many of the long-term effects of cocaine stem from the method it is used. For example, the act of snorting cocaine has been linked to loss of smell, problems swallowing, and nosebleeds. When ingested by mouth, cocaine use may lead to bowel decay due to reduction in blood flow. Needle injection puts a user at higher risk for bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Some suggest that long-term cocaine use may also be associated with movement disorders, psychological disturbances such as hallucinations (even after the cessation of use), significant weight loss, jitters, and rapid speech.

What Causes Cocaine Use Disorder/Addiction?

As with any substance use disorder, there are genetic and environmental factors that influence the development of a cocaine use disorder. At a cellular level, cocaine works by increasing dopamine in areas of the reward center brain that control pleasure and movement. In the normal brain, dopamine produced is recycled back to the cell it was released from, preventing build up, however, cocaine interferes with this process. The disruption in brain communication caused by excessive dopamine this build up is what causes the high. Further, the increased stimulation to the reward center of the brain influences an intense rush of chemicals. In order to achieve these effects consistently, a cocaine user will often need to continuously increase their frequency and/or amount of the substance used. Some individuals with naturally higher levels of dopamine production may receive greater pleasure from using cocaine and therefore more susceptible to developing a cocaine use disorder.

What is a Stimulant Use Disorder?

In the DSM-5, cocaine use disorder is under the overarching stimulant use disorder. The DSM-5 criteria for stimulant use disorder are as follows:

A pattern of amphetamine-type substance, cocaine, or other stimulant use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring within a 12-month period:

  1. The stimulant is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control stimulant use.
  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain the stimulant, use the stimulant, or recover from its effects.
  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use the stimulant
  5. Recurrent stimulant use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  6. Continued stimulant use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the stimulant
  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of stimulant use
  8. Recurrent stimulant use in situations in which it is physically hazardous
  9. Stimulant use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the stimulant
  10. Tolerance as defined by a need for markedly increased amounts of the stimulant to achieve intoxication or desired effect or a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the stimulant
  11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either the characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the stimulant or the stimulant (or closely related substance) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

What Are The Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?

After long-term cocaine use, the brain is likely to adapt to the increase in chemicals brought on by its use. Withdrawal is most commonly characterized by intense craving or desire to use a substance shortly following the cessation of use; this may lead to the use of the substance or similar substances in strong or frequent doses to decrease negative symptoms. Cocaine withdrawal differs from alcohol or heroin withdrawal in that there fewer physical symptoms. Instead, individuals most commonly experience depressed mood, malaise, tiredness, unpleasant dreams or trouble sleeping, paranoia and/or agitation.

What is the Treatment for Cocaine Addiction/Use Disorder?

Treatment for cocaine use disorder may include cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy, motivational or rewards therapy, support groups and 12-step programs and therapeutic communities. There are not currently any FDA approved medications to treat cocaine addiction, however, several are being tested.

How to Cope?

  1. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle can help an individual manage addiction.
  2. Relaxation techniques – Mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises can reduce an individual’s overall stress level and may help curb maladaptive urges to use cocaine.
  3. Exercise routine – 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise may help manage cocaine addiction by reducing anxiety and diverting an individual’s attention away from its use.
  4. Good sleep hygiene – Healthy sleep patterns promote a stronger ability to maintain emotional equilibrium, making it easier to maintain stress and avoid the use of cocaine.
  5. Avoid activities surround ETOH use – Engage in activities that are not associated with cocaine use in order to prevent urges. Increase number of social contacts that are not associated with cocaine use/that do not promote the use of cocaine.
  6. Find new interests – Partaking in hobbies, interests or work that you find fulfilling will strengthen self-esteem and self-concept and may reduce the appeal of drinking alcohol.
  7. Join 12-step/support group – Support groups will help you meet others with similar experiences, share coping strategies, and gain a sense empowerment and connection.

Last update: August 30, 2017

The content on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.