Is Addiction to Cocaine a Disease?

It is no surprise to learn that cocaine addiction is powerful. Breaking the habit is, therefore, very difficult. What many people may not know is that the drug affects the brain, and even changes the way the brain functions. In other words, the body itself adapts to the drug in ways that are beyond the control—beyond the willpower—of the person who is addicted.

How Cocaine Affects Your Brain

Like many drugs, cocaine is an effective pain killer also promotes feelings of ease and euphoria. It also, over time, changes the way the chemicals in the brain function. As a result, the person who is addicted will experience the following side effects:

  • Tolerance for the drug
  • Impulsive cravings for the drug
  • Inability to control these cravings
  • Use of the drug despite clearly dangerous and harmful effects

Cocaine Addiction as a Disease

Cocaine addiction is defined as a disease. The following are characteristics of addiction:

  • Despite good intentions, the addicted person cannot, through willpower, change her brain chemistry. As a result of long-term drug use, the brain chemistry changes as it adapts to the drugs. This adaptation cannot be changed; it does not simply disappear through an act of the will.
  • Addiction as a disease therefore is best overcome through medical supervision. Because there are changes to the body, specifically to the brain, a treatment program that addresses these changes is far superior and more effective than merely quitting “cold turkey.”
  • Addiction as a disease implies that research will lead to more effective treatments. Since the addiction is a chemical, physical issue, scientists can study these bodily changes and test various treatments.
  • Addiction affects thinking and decision-making. The drugs that lead to serious addiction affect the brain in ways that hamper learning, interfere with memory, and distort rational and common-sense decision-making. Again, this happens in spite of native or natural intelligence and even strong intentions otherwise.

Factors that Affect Cocaine Addiction

The following are factors that affect cocaine addiction and recovery:

  • Genetic inheritance: The biology of one’s genetic makeup has some effect on a predisposition to addiction
  • Development: If there is exposure or use of the drug at early stages of development, there appears to be a greater likelihood of addiction in adulthood
  • Situation: The environment can influence drug use through social pressure

The social and cultural pressures of life today can contribute to the spread of the disease of addiction. The stresses of life and the way that drugs are accepted as “solutions” of first resort to our problems creates an social environment that makes drug use—and misuse—more common.

Help Finding Cocaine Addiction Treatment

To learn more about how addiction can be a disease, and how this disease can be treated, call our toll-free helpline, which is open 24 hours a day. We can help you reclaim your life. It is never too late; call now.

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