Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine, also called coke or blow, is a popular central nervous system stimulant derived from the coca leaves from the coca plant in South America and is available in powder, liquid, and rock (crack cocaine) forms. Cocaine is one of the most used illicit substances in the United States, with around five million people reporting using it in the past year.

It is an expensive, even glamorous drug despite the mental and physical health dangers of cocaine use. It is popular for the intense energy and increased confidence that it provides due to how it affects your brain’s neural pathways.

Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine’s effects can be felt almost immediately after a single dose is consumed and subside within a few minutes to an hour. The length of time the effects are felt depends on the method of administration. The faster cocaine is absorbed into the body, the quicker the high is felt and the shorter the duration.

For example, in relatively small doses, five to 30mg—snorting cocaine will generally make the user euphoric, energetic, talkative, mentally alert, and confident. Cocaine blocks pain receptors, so it can also make the user feel ‘invincible’ However, it is also common for these results to reverse as the user comes down as they begin to feel paranoid, aggressive, and anxious.

Psychostimulants such as cocaine have been used as performance enhancers throughout history. Some studies show a link between light cocaine use and short-term prospective memory performance. Many college students are misusing psychostimulants such as cocaine for cognitive enhancement. However, the long-term effects of cocaine abuse have negative consequences for the brain and cognitive performance.

Psychological and Physical Symptoms of Cocaine Use:

  • Increased energy/alertness
  • Talkativeness/sociability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Palpitations
  • Aggression
  • Poor decision-making
  • Lack of self-awareness
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased Heart rate
  • Heightened blood pressure
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diminished need for sleep

Forms of Cocaine

People abuse two chemical forms of cocaine: the water-soluble hydrochloride salt and the water-insoluble cocaine base.

Powder Cocaine

The hydrochloride salt is powder cocaine; this is most commonly snorted through a straw or rolled up banknote. Finding rolled-up banknotes and straws can be signs of cocaine abuse or other drug use.

Snorting cocaine risks nasal congestion and damage to the nose and the other physical and mental health symptoms of cocaine use.

Crack Cocaine

The other form of cocaine, crack, is created by combining the drug with ammonia or baking soda and water. Crack is produced when this is then heated to remove the hydrochloride, and a solid rock or crystal is made.

Although powder cocaine and crack are derived from the same drug and produce similar effects, society often views them very differently. The price of each form, the way they are consumed, and how they are made are all factors that affect this.

Dangers of Cocaine Abuse

Regular cocaine users will quickly build a tolerance to the drug, requiring more and more to produce the same euphoric effects. The more cocaine a person takes, the higher the risk of cocaine toxicity and addiction. In addition to the increased risk of addiction and overdose, cocaine has lasting effects on the body and the brain.

Dangers of Cocaine Use on The Brain?

Cocaine produces the effects that users seek by triggering a release of hormones, including dopamine and norepinephrine, responsible for feelings of confidence.

Cocaine use also prevents dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin from taking up into the nerve cells. This can cause many neurotransmitters to accumulate, stimulating the surrounding nerve cells and increasing the pleasurable sense of euphoria.

One of the effects of cocaine addiction is that the brain becomes less sensitive to dopamine. This means that more significant amounts of cocaine are required to produce the same high that the user once felt, encouraging those abusing cocaine to consume more of the drug and increasing the risk of overdose. This can also cause certain mental illnesses, including chronic depression.

Due to the confidence-boosting effects of cocaine, those with an undiagnosed mental health disorder such as anxiety may use cocaine to feel more comfortable in social settings. Still, it is essential to remember coke is a hazardous drug and can worsen the effects of mental illness in the long term.

Cocaine use causes blood vessels to constrict, and chronic, regular use can decrease the quantity of oxygen delivered to the brain. This can cause brain damage and increase the risk of aneurysms. Other health risks of cocaine use include strokes, seizures, brain shrinking, and inflammation of blood vessels in the brain and spinal column.

Dangers of Cocaine Use to The Body

Cocaine can reduce the blood flow to the stomach and intestines, leading to tears and ulcers. Chronic or acute substance abuse can cause muscle fibers to die, and these dead fibers enter the bloodstream. This can both cause muscle damage and severe damage to the kidneys. Cocaine also causes a great deal of stress to the heart and can cause the following effects on the body:

  • High blood pressure
  • Poor lung function
  • Permanent damage to vital organs
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Overdose

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 1.3 million people had a cocaine use disorder in the past 12 months, with drug abuse becoming an increasing problem in the US. If you think someone you know might be abusing cocaine or has developed a cocaine addiction, there are signs to look out for. There are physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms to look for.

Behavioral Signs:

  • Increased aggression
  • Out-of-character lying or stealing
  • An increase in risk-taking behaviors
  • Increased energy or hyperactivity
  • Hurried speech

Physical symptoms:

  • High body temperature
  • Regular nose bleeds
  • Profuse sweating
  • Dilated pupils and wide, intense-looking eyes

Psychological Symptoms:

  • Euphoria
  • Psychosis
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic
  • Paranoia

Psychosocial Symptoms:

  • Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities or hobbies
  • Depressed mood
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Increased anxiety

Substance Abuse; Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Cocaine addiction treatment must start with detox so that all drug traces can be removed from your system. Those who have become dependent on the drug will likely experience withdrawal symptoms such as; depression, fatigue, increased appetite, insomnia, restlessness, and cravings. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are generally not life-threatening but can be incredibly distressing and cause a person to relapse, so it is never recommended to attempt withdrawal alone. Treatment centers offer medical detox to help the patient manage cocaine withdrawal. A medical professional will monitor the patient’s physical and mental health during medical leave and encourage them to continue with addiction treatment.

NPAC is a dual diagnosis treatment facility, so we support patients to overcome their drug addiction and provide support for any mental health disorders. Behavioral therapies, including contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapies, have been shown to help treat cocaine addiction.

If you are worried about the drug use of a loved one or are struggling with addiction yourself, contact NPAC today to find out more about the cocaine addiction treatment process.

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine