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Cocaine Addiction Treatment and Rehab Help

What Is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addiction is a chronic relapsing disorder that occurs when a person loses control over their drug intake. As addiction escalates, a person will go from casually taking cocaine to fully abusing it. Over time, a person will entirely lose control over cocaine-seeking and taking. This can lead to many drug-related activities, most of which are illegal.10

As a person abuses cocaine repeatedly to get the pleasurable effects it has on the brain, tolerance builds up. This requires the person to take not just higher doses of cocaine, but also to take it more frequently. When you’re abstaining from cocaine use, your brain remembers the euphoria that you experienced while using it. This, together with cues that trigger your brain to desire the good feelings a person has while using cocaine, causes cravings that can lead to relapse.15

Overall, any drug addiction is a significant medical problem. Not only can it make an individual unhealthy and lead to comorbidity with many other mental health disorders, but it also has a huge socio-economic impact on society. It’s estimated that drug addiction, including cocaine addiction, is responsible for approximately 40% of the financial costs of all neuropsychiatric disorders.10

How Addictive Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a rather addictive drug. Even after just one use, an individual might have trouble predicting or even controlling how much they’ll use it in the future. This is because cocaine is a stimulant that inhibits the nerve cell dopamine reabsorption. Dopamine is a hormone that the brain releases to reward us. Unfortunately, dopamine is also the leading cause of addiction, as it’s directly involved in dependency on all major drugs people abuse.15

When it comes to cocaine, tolerance can be built up rather fast. This is why most users start using larger dosages rather quickly, trying to reach the same amount of pleasure as the first time they used it. However, this usually isn’t possible. This leads to users frequently increasing the doses, trying to prolong the euphoric feeling cocaine gives them. The same euphoric feeling seemingly cannot be reached without the drug, 15

At the same time, it’s common for the user’s sensitivity to cocaine’s convulsant and anesthetic effects to increase, even though the doses aren’t increased. Unfortunately, this is the leading cause of deaths that might occur even if the individual doesn’t seem to be intaking a large dose of this drug.15

What are Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction (Abuse)?

These are some of the signs and symptoms of a cocaine addiction (or stimulant use disorder):1,3

  • Taking larger amounts of cocaine or using cocaine longer than originally intended.
  • Strong urges/cravings to use cocaine.
  • Inability to cut down or totally stop cocaine use, despite expressed intent or attempts to do so.
  • Neglecting important obligations (job, family, school) as a result of cocaine use.
  • Using cocaine in situations where it is dangerous to do so (driving a car, operating machinery, while watching children).
  • Becoming isolated from others as a result of cocaine use.
  • Giving up activities that were once important to use cocaine.
  • Continuing to use cocaine despite obvious problems resulting from cocaine use (at work, in relationships, at school).
  • Developing tolerance (needing more cocaine to get the same effect that was once achieved at lower amounts); experiencing both tolerance and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Spending a lot of time using cocaine or trying to get cocaine.
  • Exhibiting periods of elation, hyperactivity, inability to sleep, or extreme talkativeness followed by periods of lethargy, sleepiness, irritability, or depression.
  • Displaying episodes of suspiciousness or seeing or hearing things that are not really there (psychosis).
  • Disappearing for days at a time with no explanation.
  • Displaying specific physical symptoms: frequent nosebleeds; frequent runny nose; sores around the mouth; needle tracks on the arms, legs, or other areas.

When someone exhibits two or more of these signs or symptoms, there may be reason to suspect that the person has a problem with cocaine.

What Does a Cocaine Overdose Feel Like?

A person can overdose on cocaine. In fact, as previously mentioned, this can sometimes happen even after a rather small intake if the person’s sensitivity has grown.15  In regular cases, however, an overdose occurs when an individual uses too much cocaine. This can lead to severe adverse effects and symptoms that can be life-threatening or even lethal. The overdose can be both intentional or unintentional.23

Overdose from cocaine can sometimes happen even after the first intake. More often, though, it happens unexpectedly after prolonged use.23

Many cocaine users also consume alcohol. This often happens at the same time. Unfortunately, the combination of alcohol and cocaine is very risky, and it can often lead to overdose. Another deadly combination is combining cocaine and heroin.23

Other than death, a cocaine overdose can have severe health consequences. This includes:23

  • Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
  • High body temperature.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Difficulties breathing.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Anxiety.
  • Extreme agitation.
  • Heart attack.
  • Seizures.
  • Strokes.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific medication that can successfully reverse overdose on cocaine. Typical management depends on the symptoms. For example, as cocaine overdose can lead to potentially deadly symptoms, such as seizures, stroke, or heart attack, first responders usually try to treat these conditions by:23

  • Stopping the seizure. 
  • Restoring blood supply to the brain.
  • Restoring blood flow to the heart.

What Are Some Important Cocaine Addiction Statistics?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) managed to collect significant data in the past few years, including the following:16

  • In 2020, about 1.9% of people aged 12 and older have used cocaine in the 12 months prior to the survey. This is approximately 5.2 million people in the U.S. alone.
  • Among the same age population, about 0.5% of people surveyed have been fulfilling the criteria for a cocaine use disorder in the 12 months before the survey.
  • In 2019, almost 16,000 people died from a cocaine-involved overdose. 

Unfortunately, cocaine abuse is rather prevalent among the younger population. This is what NIDA has found out about cocaine abuse in the population under 18 years of age in 2021 alone:16

  • Approximately 1.2% of 12th graders have reported using cocaine in a year before they were surveyed.
  • 0.6% of 10th graders reported using cocaine in the same time frame. 
  • Unfortunately, cocaine was used by about 0.2% of 8th graders. 

As the survey only collected reported uses, these numbers could be much higher.16

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

To understand how long cocaine stays in your system and how long it can be detected on drug tests, it’s important to understand the drug’s half-life. A half-life is the time period required for the amount of drug in your system to drop to 50%. For a drug to be considered eliminated, up to 97% of it needs to be excreted. This can be the length of 5-6 half lives.17

Cocaine has a half-life of about one hour. It takes the body up to an hour to eliminate half the cocaine from your body or, to be more precise, from the bloodstream.11 However, if you’ve been using cocaine for a prolonged period of time, the elimination time will take more and cocaine will be detectable longer.19

However, there’s still some general information on how long cocaine stays in the system:

  • Cocaine’s metabolites stay in saliva or blood up to 2 days after the drug has last been used.20
  • While a standard detection time in urine is about 3 days, if you’ve been using cocaine frequently or in large quantities, it might stay detectable for up to 2 weeks.20
  • Cocaine stays the longest in hair, where it can be detected in months, sometimes even years later.21

The standard testing procedure involves using urine toxicology, as it seems to be the least invasive method with a long enough detection time.20

Cocaine Detox: What You Can Expect

Man with head in hands detoxing from cocaine
Although the term detoxification or “detox” is often used to mean a formal program of medication-assisted withdrawal management, some clinicians no longer use this term in this way.4 The term detoxification technically describes a natural process the body uses to rid itself of waste materials and foreign substances, mostly via the liver. This process of detoxification occurs naturally whether you continue to use drugs or not.

If you stop using drugs after having developed a physical dependence to them, you are at risk for experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The concept of withdrawal management describes supervision and medical assistance to ease the withdrawal process in those who have developed physical or psychological dependence on a drug and are at risk of experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue the drug.4 Professional detox programs can provide the best support, both medically and psychologically, for a recovering cocaine user. These programs tend to cost between $600 and $1,000 per day and will provide around-the-clock care to ensure the safest detox experience.7

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms and Stages

Some common cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:1

  • Depression, apathy, uneasiness (and sometimes anxiety).
  • Fatigue and sleepiness.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Very lucid, often frightening dreams.
  • Restlessness.
  • Agitation.
  • Feeling or appearing as if you are moving in slow motion.

Other sources also report the following:4

  • Severe mood issues: apathy; an inability to experience pleasure
  • Headaches
  • Psychotic symptoms: paranoia; hallucinations
  • General feelings of malaise, such as mild flu-like symptoms

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Cocaine?

If a person detoxifies from stimulants, they’ll likely experience withdrawal symptoms that are rather different from the ones seen with sedative, opioid, and alcohol dependence. The most common form of cocaine withdrawal detox is managed through intensive outpatient therapy at a cocaine addiction treatment center and there isn’t a set length.24

In general, there is an acute phase that usually doesn’t last long and isn’t as severe as withdrawal from opioids and alcohol. However, once it ends, it’s followed by a protracted withdrawal phase. This can last longer, sometimes up to 2 months after the acute withdrawal has ended. It’s characterized by unstable emotions, anxiety, irregular sleep patterns, lethargy, and strong cravings for cocaine and other stimulant drugs.25

Still, this doesn’t mean that there are no symptoms of withdrawal when a person is weaning off cocaine. Depression is the most common symptom, as it comes due to the realization that the brain is no longer feeling the euphoria and rush it used to feel. Other common symptoms are cardiac complications, which can be rather mild such as arrhythmia, or more severe such as myocardial infarction or even heart attack. While you’re in the worst danger a few days after weaning off cocaine, relapses can occur throughout your lifetime, putting you in danger once again.12,24

How to Quit Using Cocaine?

A decision to quit using cocaine and seek professional help can be life changing and must be taken seriously. It is important to understand that people who attempt to do this alone may have significantly higher relapse rates than people that choose formal cocaine addiction treatment programs.4 The withdrawal management program for people recovering from cocaine abuse will vary from person to person, depending on the severity of the person’s disorder, but often include medications to address the specific symptoms.

These are several things you should think about when you have decided to quit using cocaine:

  • Find a Competent Program: Choosing a qualified treatment program to deal with your cocaine addiction is extremely important. Take a little time to look for programs that have licensed treatment providers, offer withdrawal management, and have long-term aftercare programs built into the overall program.
  • Listen to Your Treatment Providers: Addiction medicine physicians and mental health care professionals have the training, experience, and desire to produce the best outcome for you. Listen to them. Follow their instructions. If you have questions, make sure to ask them. However, do not always expect to get the answer you want. Trust your treatment providers. It is also important to listen to others recovering from cocaine addiction and learn from their experiences.
  • There Is No Time Like the Present: The quicker you can get involved in formalized treatment, the quicker you can address your issues and start to get back on track. If you think you have a problem with cocaine, the best time to do something about it is now.
  • Stick with It: Recovery from a substance use disorder is a complex and difficult process for anyone. There will always be bumps in the road and there will always be situations that are frustrating and discouraging. Recovery is a process and represents an ongoing and evolving route of self-improvement. The only guarantee you have is that if you stay focused, refuse to give up, and endure despite everything that happens, you will eventually move toward recovery.

Types of Cocaine Addiction Treatment

People with cocaine addictions also often have psychological/psychiatric conditions—known as co-occurring conditions, or a dual diagnosis—that may complicate the treatment process.1,4 Fortunately, decades of research, successful outcomes in treatment, and the development of formalized approaches to treatment can help someone recovering from cocaine addiction in the most-efficient and least-stressful manner.4,5,6

Addiction Treatment principles for Cocaine Addiction

Primary principles directing any form of treatment include:

  • An effective treatment program addresses both the general principles of recovery (e.g., the notion that a person in recovery should remain abstinent from alcohol and drugs) and a person’s specific needs.
  • Medication-assisted treatments are often extremely useful for people in recovery and should be used when deemed necessary by a medical professional.
  • Co-occurring psychological and medical conditions should be addressed along with the substance use disorder.
  • People with co-occurring psychological and medical conditions should have these treated alongside their substance use disorder. For example, if a person has clinical depression and a cocaine addiction, just treating the cocaine use disorder may not be as successful in the overall progress of recovery.
  • Lapses and relapses are common in people recovering from substance use disorders. While people in treatment should work hard to avoid these, they should also not catastrophize the situation if a lesser relapse occurs. Instead, lapses and relapses should be viewed as an opportunity to learn and improve.
  • Therapy, particularly cognitive behavioral therapy, is extremely important in helping a person understand the reasons that drove his or her substance use, to teach coping strategies, to learn new skills, and to avoid relapse in the future.

In the initial stages of recovery, people may choose between starting treatment on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is better depends on a number of factors, including the severity of the person’s substance use disorder, the presence of any co-occurring conditions, and the need for the person to be isolated from potentially toxic environmental conditions (e.g., cocaine abusing friends and other triggers) that can increase the probability of relapse.

People who have complicated co-occurring disorders (e.g., severe depression, trauma- or stress-related disorders, personality disorders), have complicated living situations (e.g., are homeless, have an abusive relationship), or have very severe addictions that require close supervision during the withdrawal management process are often better off beginning in an inpatient treatment program.

Inpatient Rehab for Cocaine Addiction

Inpatient treatment programs are time-limited, at the end of which a person has the option to transition to an outpatient program. Inpatient programs can cost between $200 and $900 per day, depending on the length of the program, with longer treatment duration costing less per day.7 Following the withdrawal management process, most people will continue long-term aftercare treatment in an outpatient or in a partial hospitalization program (where a person spends several hours a day in treatment and then goes home).4 It is important for those entering treatment for a cocaine addiction to discuss these options with their physicians and therapists.

You can expect to receive both individual and group therapy in an inpatient program, and also may be required to participate in social support groups such as 12-step groups.

Outpatient Rehab for Cocaine Addiction

Outpatient treatment allows the recovering individual to live at home throughout treatment. These tend to cost between $100 and $500 per treatment session, with longer treatment plans costing less per day.7 In some outpatient programs, people may choose between individual or group therapy. The research indicates that both are equally effective,4, 5, 6 however, some may prefer individual therapy since it is more confidential, focused on the person, and allows for the development of a more personalized therapeutic relationship. And still others may prefer group therapy because they find that they learn better from the other group members.

Cocaine Anonymous and Other Support Groups

Getting involved in social support groups such as 12-step groups (e.g., Cocaine Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.) should always be considered for people recovering from substance use disorders. These groups are not formally therapy groups because they are not run by professional therapists, however, they offer a number of advantages that include:

  • Running indefinitely (therapy eventually terminates).
  • Extremely accessible (meetings offered nearly every day at different times).
  • Offer the development for positive social support focused in one’s recovery.

Finally, it is important to remember that just going through rehab does not automatically result in a successful recovery process.4 People in recovery from cocaine abuse or addiction need to follow up with targeted therapy that addresses the root causes of their substance abuse, teaches them new living skills, and prepares them to confront potential issues in the road that can result in relapse.

What Is a Typical Day in Cocaine Rehab Like?

No matter what type of rehab program you go to, they all have a similar set of steps for every client that starts treatment. In the case of cocaine rehab, these steps are:29

  • Intake and assessment, during which a trained professional will determine what type of treatment will be the best for your cocaine addiction.
  • Detoxification is normally the first step in rehab and comes after undergoing an assessment for cocaine addiction
  • Starting treatment at inpatient or outpatient rehab.

The exact schedule while in residential treatment will vary depending on the treatment center, but the basics are pretty much the same. For example, if you go to the AAC’s Oxford Treatment center, these are activities you can expect:

  • Mornings: Mornings are rather structured, and as such have a waking time. Nurses make sure everyone is up and assign chores that need to be completed. Then, everyone will have breakfast. After that, there will be morning therapy sessions.
  • Afternoons: After lunch, you can expect intensive therapy sessions, either group or individual. This is also the time for exercise programs or other fitness activities.
  • Evenings: After dinner, there might be a rather short group session, as well as support group meetings.

Does Insurance Cover Cocaine Addiction Treatment?

While this depends on your insurance provider and the program you have, most insurance carriers will cover at least some costs of cocaine treatment. In fact, this is stipulated under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). According to this act that was voted in 2008, the treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues has to be covered the same way as other types of medical treatment.30

To find a cocaine addiction treatment center that will accept your insurance provider, your best option is to call the carrier and ask them to provide you with more detail about your coverage and the centers available. However, you should count on a deductible. This is a specific amount you’ll have to pay before your carrier starts covering rehab costs. Your provider will be able to give you more information.30

When you find a treatment center that you’re eligible for, you will have a copay. This is a small cost you need to pay upfront. Then, the insurance will cover your treatment according to your plan.30

You can also contact AAC and ask them to verify your insurance. While on the phone, use this opportunity to check your benefits and see if you can get treatment at one of their treatment centers.

How to Pay for Cocaine Rehab Without Insurance?

If you don’t have insurance, this shouldn’t stop you from getting help for your cocaine addiction. Many facilities have payment assistance and various options for people without insurance. This includes sliding scale fees, low-cost care, or other payment assistance options.30

Keep in mind that for each of these options, you’ll need to give an estimate of your annual income, as well as the number of your family members. This is the information needed to see whether you’re eligible for most financial options.30

Each state also has funding that helps people without insurance get treatment. You might also want to check whether you’re eligible for this. Your state agency should have more information about the process and the conditions required.30

This might also be the moment to consider getting insurance. Here are some of your options:30

  • Wait for the open enrollment period. During this time, which is usually around the end of the year, anyone can sign up for a new plan or change their existing one. 
  • If you have a qualifying life event, such as getting married, divorced, or having a baby, you are eligible for new insurance.
  • Medicaid has options for individuals with low income

Even if none of those options sound like they’ll work for you, don’t worry. There are many treatment facilities that offer free treatment for those who are unable to pay.31

How to Find the Best Cocaine Rehab or Treatment Centers Near Me?

One of the ways to find a cocaine treatment and rehab center is to call your local hotline number. This will connect you to the trained dispatcher who will listen to your story and let you know what some necessary steps to start treatment are. One of the things they can help you with is to give you referrals to cocaine addiction treatment centers near your location.27 

Another thing you can do is contact your insurance provider and ask them what you need help with. They can tell you where to find a cocaine abuse treatment center near you that your program is compatible with, and list your other available options. This is one of the most common ways many struggling individuals find help and treatment location.27,28

You can also call a recognized provider such as American Addiction Centers and ask them about available treatment programs. AAC is a reputable treatment provider that has centers all over the country. No matter where you live, you’ll be eligible for treatment at at least one of the professional rehabs AAC offers. This includes many treatment centers with some specialty services, such as same-day admission, women-only rehabs, treatment for LGBTQ+ and other sensitive groups, and luxurious treatment options.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction Near Me

People who have substance use disorders (the diagnostic term that clinicians use to define substance abuse and addiction1) present with a number of different mental and physical symptoms. A core feature of a substance use disorder is the person’s inability to control his or her use of the drug or alcohol in spite of substantial problems resulting from the substance use.1 Very often this inability to moderate one’s drug or alcohol, given the obvious negative consequences, is puzzling to those who witness the behavior. Even more puzzling to friends and family members of these people is the common observation that they act as if everything is just fine.

Although the overall numbers of people with stimulant use disorders in connection with cocaine abuse are declining, cocaine still remains a very common drug of abuse. In fact, cocaine remains one of the most commonly implicated illicit drugs seen in association with emergency room visits in the United States.2 The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s most recent figures regarding drug-related emergency department visits indicate that cocaine is responsible for the most visits of all the illicit drugs.2

Frequently Asked Questions

*This information is provided to educate only, and should not be used make a diagnosis; consult a licensed mental health care professional to diagnose any mental health or substance abuse disorder.