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5 Ways To Stay Off Cocaine

Young man cocaine addicted

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug, categorized as a stimulant, that is made from the leaves of the coca plant. When taken as a drug, cocaine produces short-term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness in addition to dangerous physical effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure. Although the majority of the population in the United States does not use cocaine, this country is nonetheless the world’s number one importer and user of the drug. These are the disturbing facts:

  • 1.5 million United States residents are believed to use cocaine at least once per month
  • 25% of all Americans between the ages of 26 and 34 have used cocaine at least once in their lives
  • Over 8% of all high school seniors report having used cocaine at least once during their high school years
  • Over 5% of college students reported having use cocaine during their time in school
  • It is the third most widely available drug on high school and college campuses in the United States
  • Over 20% of those individuals in the United States prison system were under the influence when they committed their crimes.

It is, therefore, not a surprising fact that many cocaine users will want to quit their habits. However, quitting cocaine, especially if you have been using for any considerable length of time and have developed a physical or physiological dependence to it, can be just as hard as crack addiction recovery. In addition to the assortment of withdrawal symptoms common when quitting any addictive substance, cocaine withdrawal can also lead to an initial ‘crash’ that can last from just a few hours to several months (known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome).

The so-called ‘crash’ is really nothing more than your body’s very natural way of maintaining homeostasis, which is the process by which the body attempts to reach a stable physiological balance. Nonetheless, this crash can, and often does, result in the following negative side effects:

  • Stimulant cravings driven primarily by the natural desire to reduce the withdrawal symptoms and to re-experience the undeniable ecstasy of the cocaine high
  • Mood changes that evolve into intense depression that is a response to the opposite feelings of euphoria triggered by the cocaine
  • Overall fatigue caused by a lack of sleep and energetic activity that the cocaine may have encouraged
  • Insomniac tendencies, as well as unpleasant and sometimes intense dreams
  • Increased appetite that is usually exacerbated by improper eating habits while high on cocaine
  • A general sense of agitation and nervousness, and even a slowing down of all physical responses known as psychomotor retardation

Because quitting cocaine is a different experience for every person, the withdrawal symptoms mentioned above are not always present and are often far more severe in one user compared to another. Therefore, what works for one person might not work for the next. These 5 ways to stay off cocaine, however, all have successful track records and should, whether combining two or of them or following one in isolation, at least be considered:

  1. 1. Enter a detox center
    Quitting cocaine, especially for those who have been addicted for any length of time, can be both physically and physiological dangerous; extreme withdrawal symptoms can lead to heart complications and suicidal thoughts. The safest approach to staying off cocaine, therefore, is to enter a detox center where the entire process is supervised by medical professionals who specialize in lessening, controlling, and analyzing withdrawal symptoms, and then taking the measures they have been trained in to ensure that a patient leaves the detox center cocaine free. While undergoing detox, a team of doctors and nurses can monitor your health in a controlled atmosphere with all the necessary equipment at hand in case of an emergency, and will ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
  2. 2. Go through a treatment program
    Although it is difficult to gather accurate statistics concerning drug recovery and program admissions in relation to success rates because of their inherently confidential nature, data gathered for the year 2008 regarding the number of admittances into treatment programs for cocaine addiction show that there has been a 23 % decline in admission since 1998. Therefore, going through a treatment program, especially after detoxing, is proven to help you get off and stay off cocaine. It is, however, important to enter the treatment program that suits your particular needs. Some programs, for example, offer long-term flexible outpatient opportunities for those attending school or with demanding jobs. Others, however, are residential based and require complete dedication, but are usually of shorter duration.
  3. 3. Join a 12-step group
    Many people trying to stay off cocaine benefit from participating in a 12-step group. Such groups consist of meetings where your peers, who are going through what you are going through, provide support and encouragement. According to The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, many ex-addicts who join such a community see more improvements in their symptoms than those who do not. Although there is no centralized organization or group behind 12-step meetings, most follow similar formats — consisting of generic prayer, introductions, personal stories, and a general sense of comradeship — with the same goal: help you stay off cocaine.
  4. 4. Take part in cognitive-behavioral therapy
    Not only is such therapy relatively short-term and inexpensive, but it also helps you change the behavior that led to your cocaine addiction in the first place. Instead of focusing on childhood or past issues, the cognitive-behavioral therapist’s primary goal is to look at your current situation, and teach skills to reinforce cocaine abstinence. With your therapist’s help, you will learn to recognize situations, such as social or stressful, that in the past led to cocaine use and then learn how to avoid such situations or diffuse those that cannot be avoided. You and your cognitive-behavioral therapist will work together to learn skills such as planning for crisis, controlling cravings, refusing offers, and deciphering and understanding past relapses.
  5. 5. Change your life perspective
    Perhaps the most effective and essential way to stay off cocaine is by changing your life perspective. Put simply, if you do not want to start doing cocaine again, then you have to start doing new things instead. If when you used to do cocaine, you were overly social, always going to bars and parties, then, going forward, you should become less social and start going to libraries and classes. If you used to be relatively inactive, then start exercising and participating in sports. If you used to stay up late and sleep in late, then start going to bed early and waking up early.


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