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Cocaine Addiction: Treatment and Rehab

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Cocaine use and cocaine addiction can be dangerous for your physical and mental health and have a detrimental impact on your life. If you or someone you care about is struggling with cocaine addiction, you know how difficult it can be to stop using the drug, even if you want to. Addiction, also known as a substance use disorder (SUD), can become worse if left untreated and can lead to harmful and potentially fatal consequences.1

Cocaine addiction treatment programs provide comprehensive treatment plans to address all of your treatment needs, including any physical, psychological, social, or other concerns. Treatment involves learning to change the behaviors that led to addiction and developing positive coping skills as well as relapse prevention skills.2

Here, we will talk about cocaine use and help you understand treatments for cocaine addiction, types of treatment and treatment settings you might consider, and practical considerations, like the cost and length of cocaine addiction treatment.


What is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant drug that is made from the leaves of the coca plant, found in many parts of South America.2 When it’s in powdered form, people snort cocaine, rub it on their gums, or mix it with water and inject it directly into the bloodstream; people smoke cocaine in rock crystal form.3 Cocaine produces a rapid high due to the increases in brain chemicals that are associated with pleasure. Two of the key chemicals involved in producing cocaine’s effects include dopamine, a brain chemical associated with reward and motivation, and serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood.3, 4

Cocaine’s rapid, euphoric effects can lead to a desire to repeatedly use the drug. Over time and with chronic use, your brain adapts to the presence of cocaine.3 This can mean that you need to take more cocaine to feel its effects and/or you have to keep taking it to prevent unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.3 Many people use cocaine in binges, meaning they take it repeatedly at increasing doses to maintain their high, which can lead to overdose and possibly death.3

Chronic use of cocaine can lead to changes in the brain and behavior that develop into a cocaine addiction.3 Cocaine addiction is diagnosed as a stimulant use disorder, a type of SUD. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive and continued drug or alcohol use despite the significant negative impact it has on your life.1


How is Cocaine Addiction Treated?

Addiction is treated as a chronic medical condition. This is because substance misuse causes lasting changes and effects to the brain and behavior related to stress, reward, and impulse control.1

Treatment for cocaine addiction primarily involves behavioral therapies and other methods to address the consequences of addiction as well as any other mental health issues. Unlike treatments for opioids or alcohol, there are no FDA-approved treatment drugs for stimulant use disorder, although potential medications are being researched for intoxication, withdrawal, and rehab treatment.3, 4

Other mental health concerns may need to be addressed during treatment of cocaine addiction which can affect your treatment plan and level of care. This can include your risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. Depression, suicidal ideas, and suicide attempts can also be a significant and potentially lethal risk of cocaine withdrawal.5

When possible, discuss your plans to stop using cocaine with a doctor or other treatment professional. They can provide an evaluation, help you understand your cocaine treatment options, and help determine the appropriate level of care for your needs.


What Rehab Services are Available for Cocaine Addiction?

Treatment begins with detox, which involves a period of abstinence from cocaine, stimulants, and other addictive substances.5, 6 After detox, you will likely enter a professional inpatient or outpatient rehabilitative treatment program. Treatment settings and types will be determined after your evaluation. Keep in mind that you can step up or step down to different levels of care as your needs change.

Treatment Types and Settings

Depending on your needs, you can enter different types of treatment programs for cocaine addiction. Regardless of the setting, a treatment plan should be personalized for you.7

Treatment settings can include:6, 8, 9, 10

  • Detox. This can occur at a hospital or other inpatient setting, as well as via outpatient clinics. Detox alone is typically not sufficient to support long term abstinence because it doesn’t address the underlying behaviors that contribute to addiction, but it helps you rid the body of the drug and become medically stable so you can begin formal treatment.
  • Inpatient/residential treatment. This means that you live onsite for a few weeks or months to help you become stable and address immediate needs. This can be beneficial for individuals who have severe addictions, who have unstable living environments, or who need a high level of support. You may then transition to an outpatient form of care or aftercare to continue learning improved coping and relapse prevention skills.
  • Outpatient treatment. This means you live at home and travel to a cocaine abuse rehab for care. Outpatient treatment can have various levels of intensity depending on your needs. The most highly intensive level of outpatient cocaine rehab programs are partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), with 20 or more treatment hours per week. A step down from that level are intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), which require treatment for at least 9 hours a day, while less standard outpatient programs may only require 1-2 hours of treatment for 1-2 days per week.
  • Co-occurring disorder treatment. People with co-occurring disorders have a mental health disorder (such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, schizophrenia, or depression) in addition to a substance use disorder. Treating both disorders is crucial, as each can worsen the other. Treatment can include a combination of medication and behavioral therapy to address your individual needs and specific mental health conditions.

Types of Treatment

Behavioral therapies include individual and group counseling and are the primary treatment method for stimulant use disorder. This includes evidence-based therapies such as:4, 8

  • Contingency Management (CM). This involves principles of positive reinforcement. You receive vouchers or other tangible rewards, known as motivational incentives, in exchange for positive behavioral changes, such as negative drug screens.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This helps you recognize and change negative or unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. It is a useful treatment for preventing relapse and helping maintain long-term abstinence.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI). This is designed to increase your motivation to make positive life changes and stop cocaine abuse.
  • Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA). This is often used in conjunction with CM. CRA therapy also focuses on building social and drug refusal skills to decrease substance use and reduce addiction severity.

Treatment Considerations

When choosing a program, you may wish to consider a number of factors, such as:

  • Location.
  • Amenities offered at the rehab.
  • Types of treatments used at the facility.
  • Cost of the program.
  • Length of treatment.
  • The program accreditation.
  • The training and qualifications of treatment staff.
  • Whether they offer treatment for co-occurring disorders.
  • Whether you can complete the full continuum of care (from detox to aftercare) at the same facility.

What is the Treatment Process Like During Cocaine Rehab?

During your initial intake, you will undergo a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the severity of your addiction as well as your unique medical, social, psychological, legal, and vocational needs. This helps determine the appropriate level of care and assists with the formulation of your treatment plan.11 Your needs may change throughout the course of treatment, so your treatment plan may be adjusted as often as necessary.

Treatment typically begins with detox, which helps you safely rid the body of the presence of cocaine.11 After completing detox, you will likely continue to a professional rehab. You may enter an inpatient facility, or you may directly enter outpatient treatment. Many individuals start at a high level of intensity such as an inpatient or residential treatment facility and step down to a lower level of care.9

However, recovery doesn’t end once formal treatment is complete. Most treatment facilities establish an aftercare plan to help you maintain lifelong sobriety.

How Long Does Rehab for Cocaine Addiction Take?

The length of treatment can vary based on your specific needs, including the duration and severity of your addiction as well as any relevant mental and physical health concerns. Inpatient stays often range from 28-30 days to 90 days or longer.12 Outpatient treatment typically lasts anywhere between 2 months and 1 year.12


Cocaine Rehab: Aftercare

Aftercare is a type of continuing care that can have various forms. You may combine or switch between different types of aftercare over time. It is an important component of the addiction treatment process that may help avoid cocaine relapse and increase the likelihood for long-term abstinence.13

Some common types of aftercare for cocaine addiction include:8, 12, 14

  • Sober living homes, which provide a safe place to live as you gradually transition back to your day-to-day life.
  • Individual counseling/psychotherapy, which means you meet with a counselor on a one-on-one basis for weekly or regular therapy.
  • Telephone or online counseling which may be combined with motivational incentives.
  • Mutual help meetings such as Cocaine Anonymous (CA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which are 12-Step programs, or non-12-Step programs like SMART Recovery.
  • Family therapy, which can help address relationship issues related to addiction.

How to Pay for Rehab

You may be concerned about the cost of treatment. Although the cost of rehab can vary widely depending on different factors, such as the length and type of program, some of the ways you might pay for rehab can include:15, 16, 17

  • Health insurance.
  • Paying out-of-pocket.
  • Medicare/Medicaid.
  • Going to a facility with public funding.
  • Applying for a sliding scale plan, which is typically based on your income.
  • Using a payment plan.
  • Taking out a loan.
  • Asking family or friends for help.

If you don’t have insurance, you should know that states have funding to help those who are uninsured pay for treatment.15 If you have insurance, it’s important to be aware that the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act states that health insurers and group health plans must offer the same level of benefits for mental health/substance abuse treatment as they do for medical and surgical care.16

However, depending on your specific plan, such as whether it’s an HMO or PPO, you may have different levels of benefits. You may have to cover your deductible or pay a copay.17 You may have different costs depending on whether you choose an in- or out-of-network provider, and you may need prior authorization for certain services.17


How to Find Cocaine Rehab

If you or someone you care about is struggling with cocaine addiction, finding and entering a treatment facility is the first step toward recovery and greater health and well-being. The best way to check your insurance coverage is to call your provider or verify your insurance now.

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Ryan Kelley is a nationally registered Emergency Medical Technician and the former managing editor of the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS). During his time at JEMS, Ryan developed Mobile Integrated Healthcare in Action, a series of in-depth articles on Community Paramedicine programs across the country that go beyond transporting patients to emergency rooms and connects specific patients, such as repeat system users, the homeless and others with behavioral health issues and substance use disorders, to definitive long-term care and treatment. In his current capacity as Medical Editor for American Addiction Centers, Ryan works to provide accurate, authoritative information to those seeking help for substance abuse and behavioral health issues.
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