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Abusing cocaine

The UK is a cocaine-loving country, and its love for the drug is growing. The country uses more cocaine than anywhere in Europe and in some big cities like London 23kg of it is being used every day. In fact, Londoners use more cocaine that the combined cites of Berlin, Amsterdam and Barcelona combined and other major UK cities like Manchester and Bristol are not far behind.

The short and long term negative effects of cocaine use are often overlooked and underplayed by individuals that use the drug. Most cocaine users will also not entertain going to residential rehab for 28 days mainly because they do not think that their drug use is that severe. Residential rehab is also a put off for cocaine uses as for the most part they are working at a functional level and certainly don’t want to take, or can’t afford to take, 28 days or more out of their work life to deal with their cocaine use. And by “afford” I mean not only financially, as a 28-day residential stint can cost in the realm of £15,00 or more, but also employment wise.

Its not easy telling your boss that you have a drug problem, and can you have a month off, and if you are self-employed its not easy to step away from a months’ worth of business. Stepping away from work is never easy, but in a climate of COVID-19 holding onto your job or your business is even more critical.

Many might look to Local Authority mainstream drug treatment services for support but often find the bulk of their clients and treatment focuses on primary heroin and crack users based on the fact that is what the bulk of the services funding is for. This in itself creates a block to those seeking cocaine treatment who struggle to identify with this client group so don’t proceed further with their enquiry into treatment as they don’t feel what is offered is for them.

The idea of identity is really important in treatment, especially if the treatment provided has group work components, so it is really important when looking for treatment to explore who else you might be coming into treatment with.

One of the first solutions in stopping cocaine use and staying stopped is to understand why you want to do it? What’s your motivation to stop, what are the benefits of stopping when compared with the benefits of continuing using? If the benefits of stopping do not outweigh the benefits of continuing, then you are not going to succeed. So getting a bit of paper and making 2 columns and listing out the pros and cons is a good start.

Cocaine user

The Negative Effects Of Cocaine

When it comes to the pros of stopping try to be specific. Don’t just put stopping will improve my mental health. To help you here is a list of some of the negative consequences of using cocaine that you might want to put in your list of reasons to stop.

Because cocaine affects the central nervous system, there is a wide range of negative effects that result from using it. Here are some commonly reported downsides of cocaine use:

  • Nose bleeds
  • Trouble breathing
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Chest pains
  • Inability to get or keep an erection
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Talking rubbish
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Extremely low blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled weight loss

And of course, cocaine use may lead to sudden death often due to cardiac arrest or seizures.

Heavy cocaine use also brings in additional consequences such as:

  • Kidney failure
  • Brain haemorrhage
  • Lost sense of smell.
  • Reduced cognitive abilities. This includes memory loss, lowered attention span, or decreased decision-making ability. Attention span may be permanent, and some may experience a shrinkage of grey brain matter and premature aging
  • Inflammation of nose tissues. Prolonged inflammation can lead to collapse of the nose and nasal cavity, as well as holes in the roof of the mouth
  • Lung damage. This can include scar tissue formation, “cracked lung”. internal bleeding, new or worsening symptoms of asthma, or emphysema.
  • Increased risk of nervous system disorders. Risk of conditions affecting the central nervous system, such as Parkinson’s, may increase.

Then there is also the added risk of combing alcohol and cocaine that causes the liver to manufacture a third substance, cocaethylene, that intensifies the drugs euphoric effects but also increases the risk of sudden death.

So hopefully by now you have your list of pros and cons. And hopefully on your list are a number of non-health related pros about stopping your cocaine use such as more money and less arguments at home.

So What Else Is Known About Stopping And Staying Stopped?

Expect some withdrawals. We have written about this before so we will not repeat it here but for those that do not know what to expect then take a look at this blog https://helpmestop.org.uk/blog/cocaine-come-down-withdrawal

Read this blog and take on board some of the suggestions to help manage your withdrawals and cravings.

Stopping And Staying Stopped Based On Will Power Does Not Work!

Stopping and staying stopped is not easy. It cannot be done on will power alone. You may be able to stop for a few days or even a week or so, but it won’t be long until you are back at it again.

Until you try to stop and stay stopped you will not appreciate that it is not easy and certainly those around you will not know how difficult it is.

Stopping and staying stopped is a about a psychological shift and lifestyle change which best comes about through psychological therapies and peer support. Peer support like SMART or CA is great and is highly recommended but they are not psychotherapy, neither are they run by trained addiction psychotherapists and they will not get to the bottom of your use from a psychological perspective. Getting to the psychological reasons why you use cocaine and doing something about this is fundamental to long term behaviour change and staying stopped.

There is no magic pill or magic wand to stopping and staying stopped. There is no quick fix, it takes the right levels and types of support, time, motivation and hard work.

Giving up cocaine after prolonged use can be extremely difficult because the body is so used to functioning with the substance. Dealing with the come down is one thing but learning to stop and stay stopped is another. Long term cocaine use will ultimately negatively affect the body and mind and in some cases, it is fatal and there is no chance of getting on top of it at that point.  In some respects, cocaine use is akin to Russian roulette – you are never quite sure whether the next line will tip you over.

If you are concerned about your cocaine use, or someone else’s, and want to know what the options are for stopping and staying stopped then call us now on 0208 191 9191 or jump onto Live Chat/email us directly at https://helpmestop.org.uk/contact-us

Help Me Stop’s intensive non-residential outpatient Dayhab cocaine treatment programme is an effective solution that also offers 3 months of free accessible aftercare and family support options. Treatment is delivered face to face either in the mornings or afternoons over 6 weeks.

For those adults who are working and can’t access services in London we offer a 6-week online outpatient cocaine treatment programme, run by the same therapists that provide the face to face programme.

Chris Cordell is Help Me Stop’s Director of Operations and is a senior associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, Certified International Recovery Specialist, member of the International Society of Addiction Medicine and a member of the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals.

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