What is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine is a substance produced from the plant called Erythroxylon Coca, which grows in South America and has a stimulating effect. Its regular use results in cocaine addiction. Cocaine was classified as narcotic in 1914, considering its side effects and addiction.

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance. Psychological cocaine addiction can occur even after a single dose. Susceptibility to some of its effects may occur as a result of repeated use of cocaine. As these susceptibilities may be related to many factors, it is not clear when they will emerge. Cocaine stimulates, invigorates and gives pleasure. However, these effects are short-lived and disappear within an hour.

The purity of cocaine differs due to the processes their dealers apply to the cocaine. It is also seen that cocaine is sometimes mixed with amphetamine. It is the most commonly used form to be taken through the nose as a powder. Taking it from the nose by smelling is called snorting, and pulling it into the nose with a stick is called tooting. Apart from this, it is used by subcutaneous or intravenous injection and smoking with cigarette (freebasing). Oral use is also possible. However, since it is the method with the least effect, it is rarely used. While the least dangerous method is nasal ingestion, the most dangerous methods are injection and mixing cocaine with pure cocaine alkaloids and using it as cigarettes.

The substance called base cocaine is in the form of white crystalline powder. It is odourless and has the characteristics of white and soft. Addiction can develop very quickly and in a short time. With the repetition of use and the increase in the amount used, the person develops tolerance to the substance. Withdrawal symptoms occur when cocaine is not used or discontinued. Withdrawal symptoms of each substance vary among each other. Withdrawal symptoms of cocaine substance; A depression-like condition occurs within an hour of cocaine ingestion. This situation is called “crash”. It is manifested by depression, unhappiness, not enjoying anything, boredom, anxiety, irritability, weakness, desire to sleep a lot, and frightening dreams. These symptoms last up to 18 hours. In heavy use, it extends up to a week. It reaches its most severe level, especially between 2 and 4 days. During this period, suicidal thoughts and actions can be observed.

What Are the Risk Factors That May Cause Cocaine Addiction?

The way cocaine is used is a factor influencing its addiction potential. As is known, cocaine is a stimulant substance. It causes an increase in mental alertness and arousal, energy and self-confidence. In addition, people who use cocaine have a decrease in appetite, an increase in sexual desire and activity. These effects of cocaine create the potential for addiction.

Of course, there is no single cause of cocaine addiction. Many factors play a role in the development of cocaine addiction. One of these factors is genetics. Individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) struggling with addiction are more likely to develop addiction. Another factor is that because cocaine acts on the brain’s pleasure centre, individuals who may have been born deprived of the neurotransmitters associated with pleasurable activities may use cocaine’s symptoms as an attempt to self-medicate. We can consider the importance of the environment as another risk factor. Individuals who work or study in difficult conditions at work or school are at greater risk for developing cocaine addiction. Psychological factors are of great importance in the development of cocaine addiction. Various psychiatric problems increase a person’s addiction potential. For example, a person with attention deficit and hyperactivity may use cocaine to calm down and increase their concentration and develop addiction as a result. Among the psychological problems most frequently accompanying cocaine addiction, we can list the following; depression, bipolar mood disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorders, alcohol use disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, antisocial personality disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity, gambling disorder.

This potential varies according to the way cocaine is used.

Cocaine Use Patterns

Cocaine hydrochloride is the pure chemical form of cocaine and comes in powder form. It is mostly used by drawing thin lines and pulling through the nose. This usage is called “line”. It can also be used orally or intravenously. Use by intravenous injection or inhalation has a higher potential for addiction than other forms of use.

How to Tell if a Person is Addicted to Cocaine?

Cocaine, which can be recognized immediately from the movements of the person, shows its effect in a short time such as 30-60 minutes. Although it acts for a short time, its presence in blood and urine can be detected for up to ten days.

Among the withdrawal symptoms are mental depression, weakness, sleeping too much, and unhappiness. The period of withdrawal varies according to the frequency and amount of use.

There are a number of signs to watch out for in order to tell if a person is using cocaine. The symptoms written here indicate the possibility of cocaine use, but do not necessarily mean that he is using it.

  1. Emotional swings: In the early stages of taking cocaine, the person feels very sociable, talkative, energetic, lively, and almost on top of the world. When the effect of the substance begins to decrease, the mood of the person using it begins to change. He may start acting hostile and not wanting to participate in the conversation. Many cocaine users may choose a sedative, such as alcohol, to suppress these cocaine withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Financial problems: Cocaine is an expensive substance, so many cocaine users have financial problems. Spends large sums of money in a short period of time. For this reason, debts may occur or the demand for money may increase. Since the effect of the substance is short-lived and withdrawal symptoms cause distress, the person will need to take a new dose again. This will require frequent cocaine intake and will result in spending a lot of money.
  3. Physical changes: Changes in brain structure occur when a person abuses cocaine over the long term. Because of these changes, family members may observe behavioural changes in their relatives. The person may be more emotionally resilient when not under the influence of drugs. In addition, continued use can cause chronic nosebleeds, severe intestinal gangrene, runny nose, loss of sense of smell, and more.
  4. Mental health problems: People who use cocaine often experience mental health problems due to continued use of the substance. Paranoia, anxiety, and depression can develop when the person is not under the influence of the substance. As a result, the person deals not only with cocaine addiction but also with the accompanying mental health problem.
  5. Cocaine withdrawal symptomsCocaine withdrawal progresses with various symptoms such as fatigue, lack of energy, lack of enjoyment of life, restlessness and loss of interest in the environment, which develops between a few hours and days. It becomes most intense between 2 and 4 days. These symptoms can last from one week to three weeks. However, the desire to use cocaine persists for a longer period of time. The severe acute withdrawal state observed a few hours after high-dose use is called “crash”. The person may need to rest for a long time in order to overcome this period in which severe fatigue and depression symptoms are observed. Since withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming for the cocaine user, it is beneficial for cocaine users to get support from experts and institutions in their field to quit cocaine.
  6. Apparatus: Objects such as small pipes, razor blades, cut small water bottles, straws are auxiliary objects for cocaine use.
  7. Cocaine effects: Enlarged pupils, nasal discharge or bleeding may occur when used through the nose. An overstimulated state, an increase in the amount and speed of speech, restlessness, and unrealistic fears are seen. After the effect of cocaine wears off, fatigue, insomnia and malaise occur.

What are the Problems Caused by Cocaine Addiction?

In cases where cocaine is taken directly, cardiac anomalies, cerebrovascular disorders and death can be seen. As a result of long-term use, occlusion of cerebral vessels, cerebral haemorrhage, sexual impotence, headaches and nosebleeds occur. Cocaine use has important effects on the brain as well as the damage it causes in the bronchi and lungs. It has been observed that cocaine use causes intracerebral hemorrhages and epileptic seizures due to its vasoconstricting effect. Paranoid delusions and hallucinations may occur due to cocaine use. Having dreams and doubting everything resembles the picture of psychosis.

Hyperarousal, anxiety, tension, and aggressive behaviour may occur shortly after cocaine use. Headache, tinnitus, chest pain may occur. High doses of cocaine can cause severe episodes of hypertension and heart attack, resulting in death. In addition to all these, cocaine is the substance that most frequently causes epileptic seizures. With long-term cocaine use, nosebleeds, perforation of the nasal wall, respiratory tract and lung diseases, stroke, cardiovascular diseases can be seen. Cocaine produces strong effects by acting on the brain. However, it circulates in the bloodstream and damages the whole body. If we list the problems caused by cocaine one by one;

  1. Heart attack
  2. Cardiac arrhythmias
  3. Strokes
  4. Seizures
  5. Permanent damage to the lungs
  6. Perforation of the nasal cavities
  7. Rhabdomyolysis
  8. Decreased sexual function
  9. Contracting blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS
  10. Serious skin infections and abscesses
  11. Death

What are the Psychological Problems Most Commonly Accompanying Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine users often have emotional disorders, anxiety disorders, sexual dysfunctions, and sleep disorders. Cocaine use causes serious damage to the brain. It has a very destructive effect on the memory, emotion, thought and control centre of the brain. For this reason, a person who uses cocaine develops memory problems due to the destruction of the memory part. Gaps occur in the person’s memory, forgetfulness is seen. Sudden emotional swings occur due to the destruction of the emotion and thought part of the brain.

When a person is happy, they can become unhappy in a short time. Reasoning ability weakens, healthy decisions cannot be made. Depending on this, difficulties may be experienced in social life. Another is that due to the destruction of the control mechanism, the person may find himself using cocaine despite wanting to quit. A person with a cocaine addiction feels stuck in a vicious circle. These mood swings can make a person depressed. In addition, a person who uses cocaine may experience deterioration in his daily life, loss of interest in social activities, and withdrawal from his hobbies. The reason for this can be explained by the demotivation syndrome. During the use of cocaine, the person who uses cocaine stays away from many activities that he used to enjoy, symptoms such as not being able to enjoy life, not wanting to do anything, and alienation from social environments can be seen.

How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated in Moodist in Turkey?

At Moodist Psychiatry and Neurology Hospital, cocaine addiction is handled with a holistic approach. Initially, the cocaine user enters the detoxification process. During the detoxification process, the person’s blood is detoxicated of cocaine. Medication support is provided for withdrawal symptoms, and serum support is provided for vitamin and mineral loss during the cocaine use process In addition, interviews are conducted by psychologists to determine the individual’s needs. Initially, the emphasis is on evaluation and diagnosis. The addiction status of the person is evaluated with psychogenic tests and individual interviews. Individual interviews are made with the cocaine addict as well as participation in group therapies and art therapies every day. Participation in sports activities is provided two days a week to improve physical skills. When a person with cocaine addiction arrives at the Moodist Psychiatric and Neurology Hospital, they undergo a comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation. Interviews are made with the family of the person to the extent that the patient has permission, and psychosocial needs are determined. Psychoeducation for the addiction process is applied to family members and appropriate behaviour patterns are explained. In the medical support section, withdrawal-relieving and desire-reducing drugs determined by the person’s psychiatrist are used in the treatment. If needed, medical and psychological support is also provided for other psychological problems caused by cocaine use.

Information for Those Who Have a Relative with Cocaine Addiction

As we mentioned above, cocaine addiction has many effects and it is a very difficult process for the cocaine addict to live through. Addiction is a brain disease. If your relative has a cocaine addiction, you should definitely get support. The person with cocaine addiction needs support in this process. If you want to support your relative, you should be open to being guided by an addiction specialist to learn about the effects of cocaine, the withdrawal symptoms, the behaviours that should be followed to get rid of cocaine addiction, and similar needs. Addiction is not a matter of will, it is a disease. In order to cope with this disease, first and foremost, the disease must be recognized. Do not hesitate to seek help and do not delay. Your relative with cocaine addiction may not want to seek treatment.

Remember that you cannot force him to quit cocaine unless he wants to quit. Try to stay cool. Your first goal may not be to get him to quit, but to try to increase his motivation to quit. If your relative who uses cocaine does not seek treatment, a relative of that person can receive counselling. From time to time, informing family members and changing their behaviour alone may be sufficient. Learning functional and dysfunctional behaviours will also help you in this process. Continue to support, love and be there for your loved one. It is necessary to be consistent in this process. It is necessary to manage the process as calmly and rationally as possible without getting angry. It is necessary to exhibit consistent behaviour and approach with rules and boundaries. Take a clear stance on your boundaries.

If your loved one doesn’t feel ready to talk about their cocaine addiction yet, don’t push it. Avoid judgmental and accusatory speech. Try to understand. Do not hesitate to discuss this matter with him. Get plenty of information about addiction from the right sources in this process. Join support groups for families of addicts. Remember that you also need support during this process. State your rules clearly and precisely. Open and transparent communication is the most valuable step of this process. This may not be easy at first. Don’t be in a hurry to change. You are entering a mutual exchange process, do not hesitate to get support.

The information on this page has been prepared by the Moodist Psychiatry and Neurology Hospital Medical Team.

Request an Appointment

      This will close in 20 seconds

      Hemen Ara

      Hemen Ara  



      Randevu Talebi

      Randevu Talebi  

      Uzmana Sorun

      Uzmana Sorun