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Cocaine Addiction Treatment - Withdrawal

Cocaine addiction treatment - withdrawal happens when a regular cocaine user stops using cocaine or tremendously cuts down use. Cocaine produces a sense of extreme joy by causing the brain to release higher than normal amounts of specific biochemicals. However, cocaine's effects on the body can be very serious or even deadly. When cocaine use is stopped or when a user's binge ends, a crash follows almost immediately. This is accompanied by a strong craving for more cocaine, fatigue, lack of pleasure, anxiety, irritability, sleepiness, and sometimes agitation or extreme suspicion. When cocaine indulgence ends, the "cocaine crash" quickly sets in. This crash causes the cocaine user to have extreme fatigue, sleepiness, anxiety and depression along with intense cravings for more cocaine.

Cocaine withdrawal does not come with the severe physical withdrawal symptoms such as with heroin or alcohol, however many cocaine addicts claim that the level of craving, irritability, delayed depression, and other symptoms produced by cocaine withdrawal exceeds that felt with other withdrawal syndromes. In the past, people underestimated the addictive properties of cocaine. However, cocaine is addictive when addiction is viewed as a condition involving the desire for more of the drug despite negative consequences. The level of craving, lack of pleasure, and depression produced by cocaine withdrawal rivals or exceeds that felt with other withdrawal symptoms.

Regular use of cocaine can lead to strong psychological dependence (addiction). Those who abruptly stop their cocaine use can experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms as they readjust to functioning without the drug. The length of cocaine withdrawal varies from person to person and on the amount and frequency of use. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are strongest during the first week after the last use, however, the cocaine craving and depression can last for months after heavy, long-term cocaine abuse. Cocaine addiction treatment - withdrawal symptoms include: Fatigue, excessive sleeping, increased appetite, extreme depression, loss of interest, generalized malaise, irritability, agitation and restless behavior, slowing of activity, vivid and unpleasant dreams, and intense cravings for cocaine.

Because of the intense cocaine craving as well as the depression and anxiety that occurs during cocaine withdrawal, it is important that cocaine withdrawal takes place under the supervision of professionals at a highly skilled rehab center. Cocaine addiction treatment - withdrawal can help create a comfortable, supportive environment for the individual that will help them through this difficult time.

While in cocaine addiction treatment - withdrawal symptoms that will be addressed include but are not limited to:

  • agitation
  • angry outbursts
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • disturbed sleep
  • extreme fatigue
  • intense craving for the drug
  • irritability
  • lack of motivation
  • muscle pain
  • nausea/vomiting
  • shaking

How can I take care of myself during cocaine withdrawal? If you are already enrolled in cocaine addiction treatment - withdrawal, it is important to see the program through and not discontinue once cocaine withdrawal symptoms have subsided. Changing your lifestyle can also help you to during cocaine withdrawal. Make the following a regular part of your life:

  • Ask for assistance at home and work when the load is too great to handle.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Develop and maintain an attitude that things will work out.
  • Do progressive relaxation exercises daily.
  • Eat balanced, nutritious meals.
  • Exercise 30 minutes three times a week.
  • Get 6 to 8 hours of rest per night.
  • Imagine, or call to mind, your positive life experiences often.
  • Listen to music to help you relax.
  • Participate in relaxing recreation activities at least once or twice a week.
  • Practice deep breathing exercises during times of high stress.
  • Seek professional help to talk through anxiety-producing life events. Ask for help in developing positive coping methods.
  • Talk with friends and develop other support systems.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment - Withdrawal Research Study

Cocaine appears to damage and perhaps destroy the brain cells associated with the "high" it produces, researchers reported Wednesday.

"For a long time we have known that cocaine causes a pleasure response immediately after it is taken because it increases dopamine levels in the brain," Dr. Karley Little, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan School of Medicine, told United Press International. "But now we see that the specific neurons interacting with cocaine are disturbed, damaged and maybe destroyed in the drug-use process."

Dopamine is the brain chemical responsible for causing feelings of pleasure. Along with inducing a cocaine high, its release contributes to pleasurable feelings associated with ordinary human activities such as eating, working and sexual relations.

The researchers examined brain samples removed during autopsies of 35 known cocaine abusers and 35 non-drug users chosen for similar age, sex, race or cause of death. They used three standard molecular measurements to evaluate the condition of dopamine brain cells. They found levels for all three standards were significantly lower for cocaine users than for the control subjects. The levels were lowest among cocaine users who had been diagnosed with depression.

"About a third of cocaine users feel markedly depressed, listless, anxious, and uncomfortable when they stop using cocaine, and this persists in a sizeable number," Little said.

Little, who also is chief of the VAHS Affective Neuropharmacology Laboratory in Ann Arbor, said, "We know that people who have those symptoms are likely to become more dependent on the drug and find it harder to quit. So, cocaine is most addicting to those individuals who experience not only pleasure from its use, but are also punished by its withdrawal. Our results provide a very good biochemical basis for cocaine withdrawal symptoms."

The research results appear in the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. They are the latest from brain tissue research begun in 1993 comparing samples from cocaine abusers and control subjects.

"This is a pioneering study," Cindy Miner, chief of science policy at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, told UPI. It raises the possibility that cocaine use causes damage to the brain, which is an unexpected result following prior animal studies that seemed to suggest otherwise. It isn't possible to say yet whether the cellular damage observed by these researchers is temporary or permanent, but at the very least it is a 'first' and intriguing finding that sets a direction for further research."

Little added: "What we need to do now is to count the dopamine neurons and axons in our remaining samples, which is a big undertaking. If we find they are not decreased then it will mean we are dealing with a down-regulation process, a reduction in cellular activity in response to cocaine use. If the numbers are diminished then were are dealing with unprecedented neuronal loss. If the change is permanent it's a serious problem, and if it is reversible then we must find out the mechanism by which it can be reversed."

The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and by a Veterans Administration Merit Award.