Cocaine and Crack Treatment
Crack and cocaine are stimulant drugs that are often highly addictive and habit-forming. These drugs speed up the central nervous system to increase a person’s energy, concentration, and alertness, but they also increase the risk for serious long-term health problems, including asthma, pneumonia, and drug dependence.
People who struggle with crack or cocaine addiction can be safely and effectively treated at addiction treatment centers that offer medical detox and a variety of behavioral therapies.
Crack is a cooked-down version of cocaine and will be referred to as cocaine for the rest of this article, however, the same symptoms and treatments apply to both. Here’s more about the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction and about how this drug use disorder is typically treated.
The Prevalence of Cocaine Use and Addiction
In 2019, an estimated 5.5 million people in the United States reported using crack/cocaine during the past year, reports the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Crack/cocaine addiction affected 1 million Americans, representing an estimated 0.4% of the population aged 12 years and older.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), crack/cocaine was involved in 15,883 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2019. Many of these deaths also involved opioids—particularly synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Signs of Cocaine Use and Addiction
The effects of crack/cocaine appear almost instantly and go away within a few minutes to an hour, depending on whether these drugs are injected, smoked, or snorted. Injecting or smoking cocaine produces effects that last for between five and 10 minutes, while snorting cocaine produces effects that last up to 30 minutes.
People who are using crack or cocaine may be:
- Euphoric (extremely happy)
- Highly energetic
- Mentally alert
- Highly sensitive to light, sound, and touch
Physical symptoms that may indicate crack/cocaine use include:
- Tremors and muscle twitches
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Increased body temperature
- Increased blood pressure
Signs of crack or cocaine addiction are usually more behavioral and similar to the behaviors of people who abuse alcohol and other types of drugs. The NIDA defines addiction as a brain disorder and mental illness characterized by a set of compulsive behaviors that are difficult to control.
People who are addicted to crack or cocaine may exhibit the following behaviors:
- Using crack or cocaine in increasingly higher amounts or for a longer time than initially intended.
- Wanting to stop using crack or cocaine but have problems controlling their drug use.
- Spending lots of time trying to obtain cocaine, using cocaine, and recovering from the effects of cocaine.
- Having strong cravings or urges to use crack or cocaine.
- Continuing to use cocaine even when it causes problems with their career, education, and home life.
- Continuing to use cocaine even when it causes social and relationship problems.
- Giving up long-held hobbies and favorite activities to use crack/cocaine instead.
- Continuing to use crack/cocaine even when it’s physically hazardous to do so.
- Continuing to use cocaine despite knowing it’s causing or worsening physical and mental health problems.
- Having a higher tolerance for crack or cocaine.
- Experiencing crack or cocaine withdrawal symptoms when not using cocaine.
What Is Cocaine Withdrawal?
Crack/cocaine withdrawal refers to the set of symptoms a cocaine-addicted person will experience if they suddenly stop using this drug. According to the World Health Organization, cocaine withdrawal symptoms usually begin within 24 hours after stopping the drug and last for about three to five days.
Crack or cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Slowed activity
- General feeling of discontent
- Muscle aches
- Increased appetite
- Vivid, unpleasant dreams
- Sleeping for longer periods
- Suicidal thoughts
Psychological symptoms of cocaine withdrawal may last for several weeks or months. Some people in recovery from cocaine addiction may need psychotherapy and/or medications to manage their psychological symptoms during the months after stopping cocaine use.
How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated?
Crack/cocaine addiction is typically treated using behavioral therapies, though medical detox may be used to treat those who experience physical withdrawal symptoms or who were using other drugs with cocaine. According to the NIDA, the majority of people (up to 68%) who seek addiction treatment for cocaine are likely to also use other drugs.
Crack/cocaine detox helps patients manage the physical symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. At this time, there are no medications approved specifically for the treatment of cocaine addiction. However, those who experience anxiety and aches may be given over-the-counter medicines or prescription medications to reduce these symptoms. Those who suffer severe agitation may be given diazepam, which is a benzodiazepine and sedative medication that helps them relax.
After acute crack/cocaine withdrawal symptoms have ended, many patients transition into a drug rehab program to receive behavioral therapies that address addiction and compulsive behaviors. These individuals may also receive medication management services to help them reduce and control post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
Many addiction treatment centers offer several levels of care. Residential rehab is the highest level of care and is ideal for patients who may be continuing to experience severe psychological symptoms after cocaine detox. Residential rehab offers 24-hour monitoring and supervision for those at high risk for complications due to paranoia, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts. Partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs are also available for patients who have safe home environments and who want to visit the treatment facility several times a week for therapy.
The most common behavioral therapies used to treat crack and cocaine addiction include:
- Contingency management (motivational incentives)
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Therapeutic communities
- 12-step support group programs
Contingency management programs use a prize- or voucher-based system that rewards patients when they abstain from cocaine. Patients who have drug-free urine tests are given points to save and apply toward gym memberships, restaurants, and other activities that promote a healthier, sober lifestyle. Contingency management programs are shown to be especially useful at helping patients achieve long-term sobriety from cocaine.
Most addiction treatment centers will develop individualized treatment plans for each patient. Some patients may receive different behavioral therapies than others based on their lingering psychological symptoms and the reasons they initially started using crack/cocaine.
Recovering From Cocaine Addiction at Haven New England
Haven New England offers detox and residential programs as well as evidence-based treatment and therapy for those who need professional treatment for cocaine dependence and addiction.
Contact us today at (844) 933-4145 if you or a loved one needs help recovering from cocaine addiction or another substance use disorder. Our team is devoted to helping you or your loved one achieve long-lasting recovery from addiction.
Let’s get you or a loved one help with a few simple steps.