More Americans have a cocaine addiction than you’d think. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), approximately 1.5 million Americans struggled with cocaine abuse in 2014. Of these people, 913,000 Americans met the criteria for cocaine dependence. They develop intense cravings whenever they come down from the drug, and exhibit signs and symptoms of an addiction. When they’re not high, many of these people will also develop withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are usually not life-threatening, although they can be very intense and uncomfortable.
Cocaine, nicknamed coke, blow or snow, comes in the form of a white powder, and is one of the most common drugs of abuse. It’s usually used as a party drug because it’s a stimulant that gives users a short-term high. The length of the high varies depending on the method of administration. If cocaine is snorted, the high lasts about 15 to 30 minutes. If it’s injected, the high lasts about 5 to 10 minutes. The residual effects of cocaine can last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.
Whether a person will try cocaine or get addicted to it depends on many factors. While addiction does not discriminate, some risk factors make a person more prone to addiction than others. This article will explore some of the most common risk factors for cocaine addiction. These risk factors often apply to those who seek addiction treatment.
#1. Women Are More Likely to Get Addicted
Women are more likely than men to become addicted to cocaine according to a study published in Nature Communications. This study found that women are more likely to:
- Use cocaine at a young age
- Take cocaine in larger quantities and doses
- Have difficulties staying sober
- Experience an increased risk of relapse
The reason for this all boils down to biology. Women have higher hormonal fluctuations throughout the month. During their period, they experience a high-estrogen phase. There’s a greater concentration of dopamine in the brain. The higher dopamine levels interact with cocaine molecules for a stronger and more intense high.
The increased estrogen levels also cause dopamine to stay active in the brain for a longer period of time. This also contributes to a stronger and longer lasting high. Female cocaine users get more enjoyment from using cocaine than male cocaine users. This increases their chances of getting hooked on the drug. The fluctuating hormonal levels may also contribute to a higher risk of developing co-occurring disorders. Substance abuse and mental health disorders are often strongly linked together.
Substance abuse treatment for cocaine abuse must account for the fact that cocaine affects women’s brains in a different way. The drug affects different regions of the brain. It’s also absorbed and metabolized slightly differently in women than in men.
#2. Age Plays a Part
Cocaine use and abuse is most prevalent among adults who are between the ages of 18 and 25. In some other age groups, cocaine use is actually on the decline. With that said, those who are in this age range are usually more likely to abuse cocaine because cocaine is a party drug. It’s not unusual for many drug abusers to mix these drugs and alcohol together. Many drug abusers that seek cocaine abuse treatment will also need alcohol abuse treatment. Some abusers even mix cocaine with prescription drugs, like opioids and other stimulants.
Cocaine is a common drug found in college parties. Studies show that 36% of college students have been offered cocaine by their 4th year of school. Of these students, approximately 13% will try the drug. Cocaine is by far one of the most popular party drugs out there. It’s also fairly accessible.
Crack cocaine is also another drug that many adults between the same age range abuse. These drugs are also more likely to be abused by certain races and ethnicities than others within this age range.
#3. Displays Narcissistic Personality Traits
Certain personality disorders are more likely to abuse cocaine than others. Studies have shown that cocaine users are more likely to be narcissistic. The definition of a narcissistic personality disorder is a pervasive pattern and belief of grandiosity. Narcissists have a need for admiration and have a lack of empathy. In general, the onset of a narcissistic personality disorder happens during early adulthood. These people are more likely to become dependent because they are more likely to enjoy the feelings of superiority that cocaine gives them.
Personality disorders are considered mental health disorders. The treatment centers must treat the cocaine addiction with the personality disorder in mind. Patients must undergo behavioral therapy, like one-on-one counseling, group counseling and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Certified mental health professionals can help cocaine users regulate their behavior and thoughts. The professionals can also help patients learn how to interact with others in a positive manner. They teach them how to develop and use sober social skills. Counselors and therapist need to be patient in helping cocaine abusers. It’ll take time for them to develop self-worth and a stable self-identity.
Treating a narcissistic personality disorder with cocaine abuse and addiction is much more challenging. Medical professionals must account for how the changes in the brain may affect their mental health.
Signs and Symptoms of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder
If you haven’t gone through our admissions process yet, here are some signs and symptoms of a narcissistic personality disorder:
- A grandiose sense of self. Narcissists often feel special or unique, and look down on people they deem to be ‘ordinary’ or ‘average’. They believe that they’re better than everyone else, and only want to associate with high-status people, places and things. They often exaggerate or lie about their talents and achievements.
- A sense of entitlement. Since narcissists believe that they are superior to others, they often believe that they deserve better treatment than others. They often ask others for favors, and will expect others around them to comply. They may also lash out at those who defy them.
- Exploits others without feeling any shame or guilt. Those who struggle with narcissism also tend to lack empathy. They don’t think twice about taking advantage of others. Sometimes their actions are malicious. Other times, they are oblivious to it.
- Lives in their own fantasy world. Their beliefs may stray far from reality. Anything that threatens that will be met with aggression and defensiveness.
- Needs constant praise and admiration. Narcissists need constant praise. They need others around them to boost their ego. As a result, their relationships often end up very one-sided.
Due to how difficult it may be to interact with a narcissist, narcissists need specialized mental health treatment. The behavioral health specialist should specialize in treating narcissism.
#4. The Use of Gateway Drugs, Especially at a Young Age
Studies show that those who abuse gateway drugs are more likely to abuse cocaine. The risk of cocaine abuse increases 266 times among children between the ages of 12 and 17, and up to 323 times in adults. Gateway drugs include tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. These drugs may seem harmless, but they can do irreparable damage. Those who struggle with substance use disorders are most likely to get addicted to cocaine.
Compared to those who use just one gateway drug, children who use all three are actually 777 times more likely to abuse cocaine. Surprisingly, this risk decreases among adults. Adults who abuse all three drugs are 104 times more likely to try cocaine. Patients who abuse various substances at once will need substance abuse treatment for all of the drugs for a successful recovery. Look at the various treatment options that are available to make an informed decision.
The study also shows that children who abuse drugs earlier are more likely to abuse hard drugs, like cocaine. The frequency of the drug use is also a contributing factor. For example, children who smoke more than 5 times a day are more likely to abuse cocaine than children who only have a smoke once a day.
Mixing cocaine and alcohol together increases the risk of an overdose. Cocaine is a stimulant, and alcohol is a depressant. When taking both together, the alcohol will suppress the effects of cocaine. The cocaine will also decrease the effects of alcohol. As a result, drug addicts will take a larger dose of cocaine and will also drink more.