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Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the last several years, cocaine abuse among people 12 years and older has remained stable. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that in 2014, 1.5 million people reported to using cocaine within the last month and the majority of these users were in the 18 to 24 age group. This means a lot of families around the country are struggling with loved ones who are suffering from cocaine addiction—and they may not know what they can do to help. This page provides the information these families need most, including how to know if someone is using cocaine, how to find an intervention specialist and a rehab facility, and what they can do to support their loved one with cocaine symptoms.

Expert

Dr. Matthew J. Bruhin
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According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the last several years, cocaine abuse among people 12 years and older has remained stable. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that in 2014, 1.5 million people reported to using cocaine within the last month and the majority of these users were in the 18 to 24 age group. This means a lot of families around the country are struggling with loved ones who are suffering from cocaine addiction—and they may not know what they can do to help. This page provides the information these families need most, including how to know if someone is using cocaine, how to find an intervention specialist and a rehab facility, and what they can do to support their loved one with cocaine symptoms.

Signs of Cocaine Use

When someone is abusing cocaine, certain behaviors emerge that their family members may begin to notice. The following are some of the symptoms of cocaine use.

    • Aggression
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Dilated pupils
    • Financial problems
    • Insomnia
    • Nosebleeds
    • Overconfidence
    • Paranoia
    • Problems with the sense of smell

How to Help a Cocaine Addict

Helping someone who has been abusing cocaine is not easy, but it is possible. This section explores what the loved ones of a cocaine addict can do to help them get the treatment they need.

Someone who does not use drugs may not know for sure if a friend or family member has been using cocaine. There are signs to look for, however, if someone suspects their loved one is a cocaine addict. Some of the obvious signs are physical: Someone who is abusing cocaine may have nasal problems, such as nosebleeds and a regular runny nose, as well as dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, powder residue on their nose and mouth, and burn marks on their lips and hands.

Also, people who have a cocaine addiction will also undergo changes in their behavior. They may become more dishonest, experience sudden financial problems, begin to steal from their friends and family members, and show signs of paranoia and mood swings. In addition, cocaine abusers tend to have the paraphernalia of their addiction in their clothes or room, such as razor blades, plastic baggies, and spoons.

Talking to someone about their cocaine addiction may be necessary if they won’t get help on their own, but it’s not easy. This is a delicate situation that people must think through carefully before they begin the conversation. The following are some do’s and don’ts on how to speak to a cocaine addict about their problem.

DO’S
DON’TS
Do think about what to say. It’s a good idea to think about what to say to a cocaine addict before having the conversation. Doing research about cocaine addiction and treatment options can help to prepare for this difficult discussion.
Don’t talk to someone when they’re high. They won’t be thinking clearly and may become agitated or even violent. Waiting until they’re sober increases the chances that the conversation will result in the person getting help.
Do be honest. An addiction can affect the whole family, but someone who is abusing cocaine may not see that. It’s important to be honest with someone about the effects their addiction has had on everyone in the household.
Don’t lecture. While it’s important to lay out the case for getting help in an open and honest way, it’s important not to come off as judgmental during the conversation. This will only turn the person off and may result in an argument. Also, the person may start to feel so bad during the conversation that it actually triggers more cocaine use.
Do stay calm. Dealing with someone abusing cocaine is stressful and upsetting. But when confronting them about their drug abuse, it’s important to remain calm in order for the conversation to be productive.
Don’t get baited. When a cocaine addict is confronted about their behavior, it’s not uncommon for them to get defensive and angry. Don’t take the bait and allow them to derail the conversation. Although it will be difficult, it’s important to remain composed and stay on track, focusing on the need for them to get treatment and not their confrontational behavior.
Do get a professional to help. Someone who is at their wit’s end dealing with a cocaine addict may benefit from working with an intervention specialist. These professionals can coach friends and family members on what to say during an intervention, as well as advise the person abusing drugs on their options. Having a neutral party in the conversation may help it run smoother that it otherwise might.
Don’t blame. When people use “I” statements during these conversations, they are explaining how an addiction affects them. By using “you” statements, it may make the person struggling with addiction feel like they’re being blamed for all of the problems in the household. This generally will not convince them to get the help they need.
Do use tough love. It may be necessary to let the person addicted to cocaine know that their actions have consequences. People can think about what those consequences will be if their loved one doesn’t get help, and then be prepared to follow through.
Don’t give up. It may take multiple conversations or interventions to convince someone to get help for cocaine addiction. If the first try doesn’t work, people should not automatically assume this approach won’t work and give up entirely.

An intervention is a meeting where the loved ones of a cocaine addict confront them about their behavior and try to convince them to enter treatment. These meetings can be informal or formal. During an informal intervention, someone will have a private conversation with the person abusing cocaine and discuss the problem. During a formal intervention, the friends and family members of a cocaine addict work with an intervention specialist to have a structured conversation about the addiction. Generally, people turn to an interventionist for help when their one-on-one conversations with the person have not been successful.

People who are looking for a cocaine rehabilitation center for their loved one can start by searching for programs on the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The agency also offers advice on a helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers also has a directory to help people find high-quality rehab centers with experience treating those with cocaine addiction.

Some interventionists work on staff at rehab centers, so people can speak to facilities directly to find someone to help them organize a meeting. Also, the Association of Intervention Specialists provides guidance on how to contact an interventionist.

In some cases, the family members of cocaine addicts need legal assistance. For example, if they want to get the person out of their home, they may need to go through the formal eviction process and explain to a judge why it’s necessary for them to leave. Just throwing someone out of the house because of their drug addiction can leave people open to a host of legal problems, such as lawsuits and even criminal charges.

Also, it may be necessary to call the police on someone with a cocaine addiction if they’re being violent. Although it may be difficult for family members to do this to their loved one, violence should not be tolerated and it’s more important to protect everyone in the home.

Having a family member who is addicted to cocaine can be a stressful experience, so often people dealing with this need to get their own help to cope with the situation. The following are some support groups that can assist them.

What to Expect from a Cocaine Addiction Treatment

When people enter a rehab center for cocaine addiction, they will get a combination of pharmacological and psychological treatments. At the beginning of treatment, patients are given medications to get the cocaine out of their system and help them safely get through withdrawal. The next step of the process includes counseling, which allows patients to confront their addiction and understand the impact that abusing cocaine has had on their life, as well as the lives of the people they care about.

  • Detox: Withdrawing from Cocaine
  • Visiting Someone in Rehab
  • Addiction Therapy: Participating in Treatment
  • The family of a cocaine addict may be surprised when they witness their loved one going through the painful withdrawal process, and may not understand what is happening. The following are some symptoms a person may experience when they’re withdrawing from cocaine:

      • Agitation
      • Anxiety
      • Chills
      • Depression
      • Fatigue
      • Increased appetite and cravings for cocaine
      • Irritability
      • Muscle aches
      • Nightmares
      • Paranoia
      • Problems with concentration
      • Restlessness
      • Sleepiness
      • Slower thinking
      • Suicidal thoughts
  • Visiting a loved one in a cocaine rehabilitation center is a great way to show support and give them something to look forward to during their treatment. It is also a good way for family members to actively participate in the treatment process, since many programs include family therapy.

    When people visit someone in rehab, they should remember to really listen to the person when they share information about the program, give them praise for how far they’ve come, and avoid dredging up past problems unless it’s during a counseling session. Also, it’s important to always be on time for the visits because it shows the person that they’re a priority and teaches them the importance of keeping commitments—something they’ll need to get used to when they’ve been released from treatment.

  • Addiction is a family disease, so it’s important for people to participate in therapy with their loved one in rehab so that every member of the family gets the chance to heal. During this process, a therapist will address the issues in the household related to the addiction and help everyone improve communication with each other. Also, family members learn how to set healthy boundaries and avoid enabling behaviors that will derail their loved one’s sobriety.

Life After Cocaine Abuse Programs

Going through a rehab program is just the first step in a cocaine addict’s road to long-term sobriety. It is a huge adjustment to leave addictive behaviors behind, but family members can help by creating a drug-free environment in the home and encouraging the person to attend support groups, eat healthy, and get exercise.

Also, people should keep in mind that there’s a possibility their loved one will go through a relapse. If this happens, they should continue to support the cocaine addict and encourage them to get additional help from a rehab program or twelve-step group. It’s important to remember not to blame their loved one or blame themselves. Living a clean and sober lifestyle is a process, and sometimes the person who went to rehab will experience a setback—which doesn’t mean the situation is hopeless.

Find Personal Support

Dealing with a family member’s addiction can take its toll, so it’s important for people to support themselves as they support their loved one. Self-care must be a priority, and getting help from others who understand what it’s like can go a long way toward getting through the situation. Attending support groups for family members of cocaine addicts can help people understand that they are not alone. Also, individual therapy allows people to process their emotions in a private setting.

Q&A With Cocaine Addiction Experts

Dr. Matthew J. Bruhin is the Chief Executive Officer of APEX Recovery. Along with Co-Founder Fred Bowen, Dr. Bruhin utilized his experience in the creation of high-end rehabs to construct a facility that was cutting-edge and affordable, yet lacked nothing. His vision, eye for detail, and desire to lead have created an unparalleled vision for treating additive illness coupled with mental and emotional disorders.

Dr. Bruhin treats every staff member and participant like family and hopes to bring his clinical and administrative vision to many.

Dr. Bruhin is a State of California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, as well as an Addiction Specialist registered by the Breining Institute. He Bruhin earned his Doctorate in Addiction Psychology, has a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with a Minor in Addictive Disorders. Additionally, he holds many other certifications and has tens of thousands of hours of clinical and training experience.

  • What are some of the major signs of cocaine use?

    You can tell if a loved one is addicted to cocaine when you begin to notice decreasing finances, erratic sleep habits, emotional volatility, and even reddening of nose.

  • What is the best way to talk to a family member or friend about cocaine abuse?

    The best way to talk to a family member or friend about their cocaine addiction is with a professional. Though you may be able to make somewhat of a breakthrough, it can be challenging to make a long-term impact when there are emotions and memories attached. Though you will likely play a critical role in the success of the treatment, your best bet is to seek professional help as soon as possible.

  • Is it a good idea to stage an intervention for someone addicted to cocaine?

    Yes, it is a very good idea to stage an intervention for someone addicted to cocaine.

  • How can someone find a treatment center for their loved one? What criteria should they use to choose the right one?

    In order to find a treatment center for a loved one, you should ask your physician and research online for the best fit. Regarding criteria, all treatments should use evidence-based treatment modalities and be Joint Commission accredited. In addition, you should schedule a tour with the facility prior to admitting.

  • What can people do to support their loved one going through addiction treatment?

    One of the major ways to support a loved one going through addiction treatment is by maintaining good and healthy boundaries, while supporting and encouraging them to maintain treatment. In addition, it’s really important to be engaging in the family therapy process.

  • Once someone completes rehab for cocaine addiction, how can their loved ones contribute to their sobriety?

    Once someone completes rehab for cocaine addiction, loved ones can contribute to their sobriety by being supportive of the sobriety and not putting them into situations that might surround drugs and alcohol. Also, work in the family therapy process and encouraging their family members to maintain outpatient treatment is a critical element to maintaining success overall.

    Dr. Sal Raichbach of Ambrosia Treatment Center earned both a doctorate in psychology, as well as a master’s degree in clinical social work. He is actively licensed in the states of Florida, New Jersey, Nevada, and New York.

  • How can someone tell if their loved one is addicted to cocaine?

    Cocaine is a stimulant, so it speeds up brain activity and bodily functions. Signs that someone is currently high on cocaine include sniffling, agitation and hyperactivity or alertness. But, once the drug wears off, cocaine users experience a “crash” similar to caffeine, but much more intense. The signs someone is crashing after using cocaine include irritability, lethargy, tiredness, and depression or anxiety.

  • What is the best way to talk to a family member or friend about their cocaine addiction?

    When talking to a loved one about their cocaine addiction, remember that they are dealing with a very serious disease and are most likely in denial, so it’s likely you are going to face some pushback and excuses. Start off by telling them that you love them, and you want to support them in getting better. Then describe the specific behaviors that are causing you concern and detail the consequences that they have faced in the past. Finally, ask them to commit to doing something about it, whether that be therapy, treatment, or attending support groups.

    Remember that it’s never too early to talk to your loved one about your concerns. It isn’t necessary to wait for them to be “ready” as they may never reach that point. It’s also a good idea to go into the discussion with treatment options on the table, making it easier for them to take you up on the offer.

  • Is it a good idea to stage an intervention for someone addicted to cocaine?

    If done right, an intervention can be a turning point in getting your loved one the help they need, so it is absolutely a good idea. It doesn’t have to be a single, surprise meeting like you might see on TV. Interventions work best when they are a series of honest, open talks where everyone is involved, including the individual in question. It’s very important to hold an intervention when your loved one is most likely to be sober. They will be much more receptive to get help when they aren’t high.

  • How can someone find a treatment center for their loved one? What criteria should they use to choose the right one?

    Finding the right treatment center is all about doing research beforehand. A reputable drug and alcohol treatment center will have accreditations from their state, as well as accreditations from national organizations like The Joint Commission (JCAHO). Additionally, they should be using evidence-based treatment methods, and have a Medical Director on staff. Most facilities have an admissions department that is specifically dedicated to answering your questions, so don’t be shy about asking. You can even request to tour the facility before your loved one admits so you can have a better idea of how the facility is run. Things like the cleanliness of the facility can tell you a lot about the quality of a treatment center.

  • What can people do to support their loved one going through addiction treatment?

    The best way for a family member or friend to support their loved one in treatment is to be involved in their recovery and the treatment process. Many treatment centers offer family sessions where loved ones can come into the treatment center and engage in family therapy sessions with their loved one. You can also support your loved one by helping them follow treatment recommendations, such as adhere to medications, further therapy, and attending support groups.

  • Once someone completes rehab for cocaine addiction, how can their loved ones contribute to their sobriety?

    Recovery from addiction is a life-long process. 30 days in a treatment facility isn’t enough to cure someone of their addiction. Instead, it provides a foundation for them to build a sober life. Loved ones are a huge part of this process, and they can start by communicating the fact that they will always love the individual and support their recovery, but will not continue to support their addiction. It’s difficult to do because family members often assume the role of caretaker for their struggling loved one. This kind of relationship will only hinder recovery by keeping the person in the addiction mindset, even if they aren’t actively using drugs.