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How is the treatment of cocaine addiction?

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Cocaine is probably the most widely used illegal drug in Spain, and each year it leads to addiction to thousands of people.

Unfortunately, this reality contrasts with another: this substance is, at the same time, one of the most normalized among adults, especially in nightlife contexts. Many times, when you react to stop this dependence on cocaine consumption, it is already very strong and it is necessary to have professional help to overcome it.

In this article we will see a summary about how is the treatment of cocaine addiction, to understand the way in which the patient and the therapist are putting a brake on this disorder.

  • Related article: "The 5 types of cocaine (and differences in addiction)"

How does dependence on a drug occur?

There are at least two ways to understand the way addictions develop: one neurological and the other psychological.

The neurological perspective

At the neurological level, addiction to a substance such as cocaine begins to emerge when, after consuming it several times, our nervous system gets used to the presence of these new molecules that enter the body.

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This substance comes into contact with our neurons and, by interacting with their membrane, triggers nerve reactions that activate the areas of pleasure, that is, those that predispose us to repeat the action that has resulted in experiencing that sensation. In this case, the behavior that triggered this experience is snorting a line of cocaine, for example.

Over time, cocaine use is transforming the way in which the neurons of our brain interconnect among themselves, and little by little they are organizing themselves in such a way that the consumption of this drug becomes one of the most important priorities of the person. Thus, other pleasant experiences such as eating or reading a good book take a back seat at the cost of focusing psychological activity on getting and consuming the addictive substance.

In addition, another of the effects of cocaine on the brain is that at the same time it triggers what is practically the only sensation pleasurable for the person, this is more and more fleeting, and he needs more and more amount of drug to feel satisfied his need.

The psychological perspective

If the treatment of cocaine addiction includes psychotherapy, it is because psychology has a lot to say about this disorder. And it is that the fact of depending on a drug is not only a neurobiological phenomenon, but it is also something in which the way in which the addicted person interacts with the environment matters, and the environments to which they are usually exposed.

If a person who finds it difficult to stop using cocaine always goes out partying in the same places and interacts with the same people, it is practically impossible to overcome the addiction.

On the other hand, there are some people who, without going to therapy, overcome their addictions after moving, almost spontaneously. This is something that was proven by a very radical case: the heroin addiction crisis of soldiers sent to the Vietnam War. Upon returning home from the United States, a very high percentage of them had managed to stop depending on heroin use.

Obviously, the vast majority of people will never go through the experience of developing an addiction restricted to a radically restricted environment. different from his hometown and in a war context, so in the vast majority of cases intervention by professionals.

The keys to treating cocaine addiction

Here we will see the main key ideas to understand how to treat cocaine addiction.

1. Medical examination and follow-up

Substance addiction involves very delicate biological processes, especially since it involves a set of organs as important for survival as the brain.

For this reason, the teams of experts in the treatment of addictions work with doctors supervising patients, something of special importance in the detoxification phase but which is also relevant in later phases, especially if the patient feels discomfort due to other health complications and tries to "compensate" with the pleasant sensation of consuming drug.


The first days after having stopped using cocaine are the hardest for patients, since it is at this stage when withdrawal symptoms emerge with greater intensity. For this reason, in the detoxification phase, in which the body eliminates the remains of the drug that remain in the blood and tissues, it is delicate and requires special attention from specialists.

  • You may be interested: "Treatment of addictions: what does it consist of?"

3. Consumer background check

As with any other disorder of this type, cocaine addiction expresses itself in moments in which the person feels the urge to get drugs and alleviate the discomfort generated by the lack of consumption.

In this phase thoughts and feelings arise that indicate when there is a greater risk of giving in to the temptation to relapse, and that is why addiction intervention professionals train patients to be able to identify very well these psychological processes that serve as a warning. In this way, it is much easier to stop its effects, preventing them from leading the person to consume.

4. Search for new incentives

It is of little use to curb the urge to use drugs if alternatives are not offered. Therefore, in the treatment of cocaine addiction also the context in which each patient lives is analyzed on a case-by-case basis, as well as your interests, personal characteristics and potential tastes, to offer you many other activities to concentrate on and with which to overshadow the power of influence of the disorder addictive.

5. Search for new contexts

Another key to the success of therapy against cocaine addiction lies in helping the patient to generalize the results obtained in the therapy sessions to different areas of his life. This includes guide you in behavior guidelines that you can follow to avoid exposing yourself to the temptation to use again, or directly to not feel interest in that activity again. For example, this happens because a group of friends in which most people have problems is not limited addiction, or nightlife plans in which not consuming psychoactive substances is almost a eccentricity.

It also helps you to uncover harmful beliefs that facilitated the addiction: beliefs that maintained a low self-esteem, which led him to believe that this drug does not have too many adverse effects on the health, etc.

Looking for professional support to overcome addiction?

CITA Clinics

If you live in or around Barcelona and are interested in addiction therapy services, we invite you to come to our facilities in Barcelona or in Dosrius (Mataró).

At CITA Clinics we specialize in the treatment of addictions, and we have therapeutic treatment and hospitalization services in a space surrounded by nature and with many activities to carry out. If you are interested in knowing more, visit this page.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (1999). Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 33.
  • Goldstein, R.A.; DesLauriers, C.; Burda, A.M. (2009). Cocaine: history, social implications, and toxicity - a review. Disease-A-Month. 55 (1): pp. 6 - 38.
  • Kalivas, P.W., Volkow, N.D. (2005). The neural basis of addiction: a pathology of motivation and choice. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 162 (8): pp. 1403 - 1413.
  • National Collaborating Center for Mental Health (2008). Drug Misuse: Psychosocial Interventions. Leicester: British Psychological Society; NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 51.
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