Did I Ruin My Recovery from Cocaine Addiction By Relapsing?

Cocaine relapse is an unfortunate part of recovery, but it is also common. Cocaine relapse doesn’t mean that recovery has been ruined or that treatment has failed. It simply means that increased attention needs to be paid to the recovery process: it may be time to evaluate whether further or different treatment is needed.

How Cocaine Relapse Works

Although there are a number of reasons that people may relapse, the heart of the matter is that people recovering from cocaine addiction have significant cravings for the drug. These cravings can be both physically and psychologically based. On the physical level, cravings occur because users’ brains have been changed, both by the drug and by the body’s adaptation to it.

Cocaine produces most of its effects by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. It affects dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. When people use cocaine habitually, the body adapts to the increased levels of these chemicals, thereby it feels out of balance when the drug isn’t present. It craves the higher levels of neurotransmitters and therefore craves the drug that will produce that effect.

Fortunately, the brain is an adaptable organ that can heal with time. As it heals, the cravings will weaken. Although recovering addicts must remain vigilant against relapse, the longer one is abstinent from drugs, the easier abstinence becomes to maintain. After three years, the likelihood of relapse drops substantially.

Treatment Options after Cocaine Relapse

After a relapse it’s wise to evaluate whether a return to some sort of treatment is needed. Some people may need a full course of treatment in a residential facility, while others may need outpatient treatment or simply some extra sessions with an aftercare counselor. Use relapse as a learning experience to determine what can be done differently in the future. Some actions that may be needed after a relapse include the following:

  • Participating in a support group
  • Finding new drug-free hobbies and activities
  • Improving personal relationships with friends and family
  • Keeping a journal to help determine if there is a pattern to your drug cravings
  • Determining if there’s a co-occurring mental health condition that needs to be treated

Cocaine Relapse Help

If you’ve relapsed on cocaine and are ready to resume your recovery process, we can help. Call our toll-free helpline, available 24 hours a day, and talk with us about treatment options for your situation. We can check your insurance coverage if you wish at no cost or obligation. A relapse is a bump in the road to recovery, not a dead end. Call today.

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