According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIHA), cocaine amounts for more than 6% of admissions to addiction treatment facilities each year, with the majority of those people seeking treatment using the drug by smoking it in crack form. In many cases, people who use cocaine are more likely to be taking more than one substance, which complicates their addiction issues and also their treatment needs.
There is a range of different approaches used to treat cocaine addiction as follows:
At the current time, there have been no medications to treat cocaine addiction approved by the FDA although there is research underway into exploring different neurobiological targets. The focus of most research carried out in the past has been on dopamine production but it has since been shown that cocaine stimulates other neurotransmitters that induce changes in the brain’s function such as serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate and norepinephrine. Research is currently underway to develop a vaccine that can be used in cocaine addiction treatment and also to potentially reverse an overdose.
In the absence of any specific medication for cocaine addiction, other therapies and treatments are used in combination with other medical options. Behavioral treatments are particularly useful in cocaine addiction treatment and have been proven to be effective in both an inpatient and outpatient setting. One form of behavioral therapy is CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy, which allows patients to develop critical skills to support them in recovery and prevent relapse. One of the skills learned through CBT is how to cope more effectively with daily stressors and triggers by modifying behavior patterns and thought processes that have a negative influence.
Another type of behavior intervention is DBT or dialectical behavior therapy, which is a treatment designed for those patients who have experienced significant negative thought processes and patterns. DBT is very effective in dealing with patients who have had suicidal thoughts or ideation and works by teaching them how to recognize and re-direct negative thoughts and replace them with more positive and progressive ones.
Activities like yoga and meditation are excellent therapies for people in cocaine treatment, particularly because the drug is a stimulant and patients may also still be suffering from its side effects of hyperactivity, racing heartbeat, and high blood pressure, even after abstinence. Mindfulness practices are designed to give patients a greater self-awareness through deep breathing and with yoga, gentle movement. Aside from providing patients with a mechanism they can use to help them relax when they’ve left cocaine treatment, mindfulness practices also act as strong protection against triggers of relapse.
Individual and Group Therapy
Learning how to communicate openly and honestly is something that is very important for patients in rehab, as it helps to build a strong support network for their years in recovery. An addiction treatment program includes a big element of therapy both one-to-one and group, (and also family at some centers) and it is more often than not the first time patients have felt able to open up about their issues to another person.
Talking things through in an individual session, where a therapist is able to guide the conversation to address relevant issues for the patient allows individuals to identify where their issues emanated from. Group therapy is just as beneficial as it allows communication between patients who have been through similar feelings, experiences and situations and it is not uncommon for lifelong bonds to be created in rehab as a result of the unique understanding between recovering addicts.
Treatable and Smart
Cocaine addiction is eminently treatable despite there being no specific medications for use in rehab. So many advances have been made in treatments and therapies for addiction that there are sufficient solutions available that effectively combat addiction to the drug. With the appropriate aftercare program for relapse prevention and a personalized treatment program, there is absolutely no reason why a former cocaine addict can’t enjoy a much fuller life in recovery.