Nearly half a million people arrive in emergency rooms annually to get help for problems related to their cocaine use. Add to that the fact that more than 160,000 people go to rehab to get help for cocaine addiction each year and you can understand the severity of cocaine addiction in our communities. 

Whether snorted, smoked or injected, cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive drug that has an immediate impact on your brain. 

Cocaine use potentially increases the risk of developing certain brain conditions or impairments, such as loss of memory and judgment later in life — leaving many to wonder if cocaine use and dementia are linked. MRI scans of the brain indicate that misusing cocaine is associated with structural and functional  changes to the brain, both of which lead to an increased risk of dementia.  

Cocaine Use & Dementia

Recent studies have found significant abnormalities in the brains of people struggling with a cocaine addiction. This could explain some of the compulsive behaviors typically associated with using the drug and may provide insight into why some people are more prone to addiction while others aren’t. 

In these studies, brain scans have shown that individuals who abuse cocaine consistently have a dramatic decrease in the grey matter located in their frontal lobes which can affect key functions, like decision-making, memory and attention. 

In addition, studies have found the longer a person has used cocaine, the worse their attention and the more compulsively they used the drug.1

What Does the Research Tell Us About Cocaine Use & Dementia?

Research has shown that excessive cocaine abuse can lead to iron buildup within the body that causes cell death, similar to the way cells in the brain die from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

One study in particular examined the brains of individuals who had been addicted to cocaine and compared them to the brains of healthy people. They found that the individuals who had used cocaine regularly had a much higher accumulation of iron, specifically in the globus pallidus area of the brain.2

Additionally, high levels of iron have been associated with the death of brain cells, which has been directly linked to neurodegenerative diseases.  That’s because the concentration of iron in this area has been linked with the duration of cocaine use — meaning, the longer that participants had used cocaine, the greater the accumulation of iron. 

The study also showed that increased concentration of the mineral in the brain was accompanied by mild iron deficiency in the rest of the body. This suggested that iron regulation in general is disrupted in people with cocaine addiction. 

  • Iron is used to produce red blood cells, which help store and carry oxygen in the blood. So, iron deficiency in the blood means that organs and tissues may not get as much oxygen as they need.3

Add to these findings the fact that the habitual use of cocaine induces long-term changes in your brain. This is because, when you’re abusing cocaine, dopamine floods your brain cells but then has nowhere else to go. This excess dopamine then blocks your brain cells from communicating with one another, which causes your brain to become less sensitive to dopamine. 

What does this mean? You need to use larger amounts of cocaine to produce the same effects of a dopamine high, damaging the structure and functionality of your brain. 

This is why heavy cocaine use often leads to seizure disorders and other neurological conditions, such as the slowing of the glucose metabolism in your brain that can cause the neurons to work more slowly and even begin to die off completely.4

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Your Cocaine Substance Abuse Can End. A Clean Future is Possible.

Finding a way to overcome your cocaine addiction requires planning, preparation and proper support from loved ones and friends. 

Additionally, it’s important to identify a treatment facility that can accurately diagnose the severity of your substance use disorder and help you create a comprehensive treatment plan to safely detox off cocaine while also building up your physical and mental health. 

You see, the physical damage inflicted by a serious cocaine addiction is devastating to your entire being. 

That’s why the process of healing takes proper guidance to address all the damage the disease has inflicted through a holistic therapeutic approach focused on repairing your mind, body and soul simultaneously.

Stop Cocaine Addiction at a Rehab Facility that Specializes in Cocaine Abuse

Regardless of where your cocaine addiction has landed you — if you’re in financial ruin, your family has stopped communicating with you until you quit using cocaine, your career is hanging on by a thread, or any number of other reasons — you can stop cocaine addiction and get your entire life back on track.

Don’t let cocaine claim your life or hurt those you love the most any longer. There is life-changing support and a sober future is possible. 

At Ranch Creek Recovery, your precise detox needs are our main priority; your successful recovery and sober re-entry into society is our utmost mission. 

At our non-12-Step rehab and holistic recovery center, our cocaine abuse treatment program delivers all-encompassing methodologies of medical and physical treatment, psychology, holistic and experiential therapies, and preparation to forge the drug free future you desire. 

Learn more about Ranch Creek Recovery, including our cocaine abuse treatment program and dedication to individualized care. 

Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us today.  


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1 Science Daily. Cocaine addiction leads to build-up of iron in brain. Accessed July 28, 2021.

2 UCLA Newsroom. UCLA study suggests iron is at core of Alzheimer’s disease. Accessed July 28, 2021.

3 IFLScience. MRI Scans Show The Horrific Effect Cocaine Abuse Can Have On Your Brain. Accessed July 28, 2021.

4 Live Science. Cocaine Eats Up Brain Twice as Fast as Normal Aging. Accessed July 28, 2021.