Cocaine and Crack Abuse (cont.)

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What is the treatment for cocaine and crack addiction?

An unfortunate fact about the treatment of cocaine and other drug addiction is that it continues to be unutilized by most addicted individuals. For example, less than 10% of people with a substance abuse disorder and less than 40% of those with a substance dependence disorder receive treatment. Those statistics seem to be independent of socioeconomic or other demographic characteristics but do seem to be associated with the presence of other mental health problems (comorbidity).

The primary goals for the treatment of addiction symptoms (also called recovery) are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation. When the addicted person first abstains from using drugs, he or she may need help avoiding or lessening the effects of withdrawal. That process is called detoxification or detox. That part of treatment is usually performed in a hospital or other inpatient setting (often called detox centers), where medications used to decrease withdrawal symptoms and frequent medical assessments can be provided. The medications used as part of detox depend on the substance the individual is dependent upon. As with many other drugs of abuse, the detox process from cocaine is the most difficult aspect of coping with the physical symptoms of addiction and tends to last days. Medications that are sometimes used to help cocaine addicts abstain from drugs use include propranolol (Inderal, Inderal LA, InnoPran XL), which decreases some of the physical symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal, as well as vigabatrin (Sabril), a medication that treats seizures.

Usually much more challenging and time consuming than recovery from the physical aspects of cocaine addiction is psychological addiction. People who may have less severe psychological symptoms of cocaine dependency may be able to be maintained in an outpatient treatment program. Those who have a more severe addiction, have relapsed after engaging in outpatient programs, or whom also suffer from a severe mental illness might need the higher level of structure, guidance, and monitoring provided in an inpatient drug treatment center, often referred to as "rehab." After inpatient treatment, many cocaine addicts may need to reside in a sober-living community, that is, a group-home setting where counselors provide continued sobriety support and structure on a daily basis.

Another important aspect of treating cocaine addiction is helping family members and friends of the addicted person refrain from supporting addictive behaviors (codependency). Whether codependent loved ones provide financial support, excuses, or fail to acknowledge the addictive behaviors of the addict, discouraging such codependency of friends and family is a key part of the recovery of the affected individual. Focusing on the cocaine-addicted person's role in the family likely becomes even more urgent when that person is a child or teenager, given that underaged people almost always come within the context of a family. Cocaine dependency treatment for children and adolescents differs further from that in adults by the younger addict's tendency to need help finishing their education and achieving higher education or job training compared to addicts who may have completed those parts of their lives before developing the addiction.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2012

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