Is Cocaine Addictive?
Is cocaine addictive and, if it is, then is the treatment for this drug unique, or do all treatment modalities treat all types of addiction?
Before addressing cocaine addiction, it is important to understand some of the history of cocaine in America, and to eliminate the false data that has been part of the general public's understanding of cocaine.
In the 1880s, cocaine was first introduced to mainstream America as a non-addictive drug, mostly because it didn't produce the withdrawal effects of alcohol or opiates, which were two commonly, used drugs at that time that had predictable withdrawal symptoms. Pharmacist and traveling medicine-men were aggressively selling these types of drugs as over-the-counter medicines to treat anything from women's "vapors" to snoring. However, the withdrawals for these opiate preparations were so debilitating that there was a need to come up with a drug that would give the public a feeling of releasing them from their tensions and freeing up their feelings and wouldn't cause severe withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine laced medicines and drinks that contained cocaine, like Coca Cola seemed to fit the bill. It was from these early beginnings that the myth was established that cocaine isn't an addictive drug. Even as late as the 1980s there were articles that professed this misinformation.
The regular use of cocaine causes some physiological changes that when the drug is removed from one's metabolism, these changes will revert back to one's normal chemistry. These changes are not significant enough to cause any major sickness or seizures as ones finds in other addictive drugs, but the emotional and psychological changes are profound and the withdrawals from cocaine will cause enough untoward effects that it can be categorized as causing an addiction or dependency.
The use of cocaine can immediately cause mood swings, paranoia, insomnia, psychosis, high blood pressure, fast heartbeat, panic attacks and thinking disorders. Prolonged use can cause drastic changes in one's personality that can lead to aggressive, compulsive, criminal and/or erratic behaviors.
After reading that list you probably were wondering why anyone would use cocaine. These are the side effects of cocaine, which everyone will experience to some extent, but the sought after feelings that produced by using cocaine or crack cocaine is euphoria and/or sexual excitement and sexual cravings.
To keep these untoward effects to a minimum, cocaine is rarely used alone, but is accompanied with alcohol or some other depressant that will counteract the uncomfortable anxiety, nervousness and paranoia that comes from repeated cocaine use.
An estimated two to four million people in America are classified as chronic cocaine users, which is defined as someone who is a continual user and/or having continual craving for cocaine. The National Household Survey estimated the extent of drug use in American and in 1997 they reported that there were 600,000 crack users in America. This estimate has been fairly stable since the early 1980s.
Cocaine differs from alcohol or opiates like heroin, in that it is common for a person to use cocaine for one to three days and then feel the exhaustion from the stimulating effects of the drug and take a break from its regular use for the same amount of time or longer. However, if you track the thinking of the cocaine or crack cocaine user after he has been on one of these "cocaine runs", you will see that his thinking is impulsive and he is compulsively thinking about the ways that he can ensure that he will have plenty of this drug in the future. Many people addicted to cocaine will admit that they were emotionally addicted to the drug after their first euphoric high.
When you analyze the addictive potential of cocaine versus opiates, such as heroin, you can see that it is qualitatively difference, but the addiction could be considered as debilitating and as strong as any other addiction, and more severe than many. If you look at the side effects listed above that are part of a cocaine user's experience, you must question the power of the addiction potential to think that these painful side effects accompany cocaine use, but they don't inhabit someone from compulsively seeking and using the drug. When alcohol and opiates are first used, there are euphoric benefits without these cocaine-like side effects, so it could be construed that cocaine has a higher addiction potential than other drugs that have long been known to be addictive.
Surveys of treatment professionals will reveal that crack addiction is the hardest addiction to curtail and can cause more devastation in a shorter amount of time to one's finances, families and sanity than alcohol or heroin. Biophysical treatment is the only modality of treatment that has a better than fifty/fifty chance of curing someone's cocaine addiction. Most addiction treatment programs have the philosophy that addiction is a chronic and progressive disease, so it can't be cured, but further investigation into the Narconon Rehabilitation programs shows that many cocaine and crack addicted individuals who have completed their program will attest that they are free of the addictive behaviors and thoughts that keep all cocaine addicts entrapped.
Narconon uses the biophysical model of treatment, which recognizes that since cocaine is a fat-soluble drug, its metabolites are lodged in the body causing continual drug-affected behaviors and physical cravings and other symptoms. These Narconon graduates are the best sources to relay the power of addiction and how incipiently it gets into your life without your being fully aware of the changes. But when this influence is removed, a person can see the dichotomy of their drugged feelings compared to their drug-free feelings. The difference is dramatic and settles any argument on whether cocaine is addictive.