Ready To Book?

Cocaine Addiction: Treatment, Recovery, and Relapse Prevention

It’s no secret that cocaine is one of the most addictive illicit drugs on the market, with a high risk of relapse. What makes it so addictive? Cocaine, like other drugs, releases large amounts of dopamine into the brain, triggering the brain’s reward system and providing pleasure.

This type of stimulation is powerful and highly addictive, thus resulting in the individual wanting it more and more. However, over time, the body builds up a tolerance to cocaine and requires additional doses more often to acquire the same effect as before.

Cocaine addiction, like any addiction, is a treatable disorder. This treatment leads to recovery. Given that addiction treatment is not a cure but instead a way to manage your addiction, every day may not go according to plan. Some days you may fall. This setback is called relapse.

When you fall, it’s important to get back up, dust yourself off and keep going. Does a relapse mean your treatment has failed? Not at all. No one is perfect, and your treatment team doesn’t expect you to be either. They are ready for any setback and want to be there to help you get back on track.

What Is Relapse?

A relapse is when an individual ceases to maintain control of their addiction by reverting back to their substance of choice. Relapse is not to be confused with a lapse, however. A lapse is considered to be a temporary departure from a person’s recovery goals where the individual returns to their original goals without issue. A lapse is different than a relapse, where returning to the original goals is not easy for the individual.

Why Do People Relapse on Cocaine?

Relapse is common in recovery. According to a study by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA), roughly 40% of people in recovery had relapsed at some point. But why do so many people relapse? There are many reasons that may contribute to an individual relapsing on cocaine or other substances. Here are the top five reasons this may occur:

#1. Withdrawal

Many uncomfortable and painful side effects accompany the withdrawal process. Some of these include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, sweating, and muscle pains. When a person experiences these symptoms, they may be tempted to use cocaine to relieve their pain.

#2. Mental Health

Unaddressed mental health issues can also play an integral role in relapse. Disorders such as depression, anxiety, personality disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), if left untreated or unmanaged, can trigger an individual into relapse.

#3. Surroundings

A person’s environment, such as a place that is frequented or others around, can also play a role in relapse. Those who use drugs tend to hang around with like-minded individuals, which leads the person in recovery to relapse. If the individual frequents bars and other places where substances are openly used, relapse becomes a higher risk.

#4. Poor Self-Care

Personal care is essential in the recovery process. When a person partakes in self-care activities, they receive a confidence boost and feel better about themselves. Poor self-care leaves an individual feeling down and possibly depressed. These feelings of worthlessness can bring on a relapse.

#5. Isolation

People in recovery often isolate themselves because they normally spend their time doing drugs and are not sure what to do now that they are in recovery. This isolation leads to severe boredom and loneliness. Without activities to fill time or people to be around, individuals may return to cocaine use.

What Are the Warning Signs of Cocaine Relapse?

There are a number of warning signs associated with a relapse. The most common include skipping peer-support meetings, glamourizing previous drug use, behaviour changes, and reverting to former friends and places from drug-use days.

Knowing the signs of the three stages of relapse can also help individuals identify the warning signs of cocaine relapse. The three stages are as follows:

  1. Emotional relapse: Individuals are not planning to relapse, but intense emotions may lead to skipping meetings and isolation
  2. Mental relapse: Individuals experience an internal struggle with returning to substance use vs. remaining in recovery
  3. Physical relapse: A person has returned to using drugs

Treatment After Relapse and Effective Relapse Prevention

There is no shame or judgment when returning to treatment after a relapse. It takes courage to seek help, and it’s a step to be proud of. Reaching out right away after a relapse is essential to your progress. Your treatment team has plans in place for a relapse and is prepared to help you get back on track.

One important step you can take within your recovery program is developing an effective relapse prevention plan. A strong prevention relapse plan may include the following:

  • Goals
  • Lifestyle improvements and healthy self-care plans
  • Identify triggers and how to manage them
  • Routine plan for day-to-day activities
  • Communication methods/ideas for loved ones
  • Accountability plan

It can be beneficial to brainstorm and develop a relapse prevention plan with a recovery team. This provides multiple perspectives and ideas for an effective plan.

The great thing about recovery is you don’t have to do these things alone. You can call on your team and lean on them when things get hard. Recovering from cocaine addiction or other substances takes time and is not without its setbacks. The most important step you can take is to reach out when you fall.

A relapse can be a scary and discouraging event. At BeWell, we understand your fears and worries. Know that there is no judgment in your cocaine addiction recovery. No one is perfect, and no one expects you to be either. What is important is getting back on track. However, a relapse is not something you should ignore, as it can seriously affect your recovery. Instead, reach out to BeWell at (647) 715-3900 and let us help. You don’t have to do this alone. All of us at BeWell are here for you, and we are ready to help guide you back on the right path. Recovery is a process, and in every process, there will be setbacks.

About the Author

Katlyn Morrison

Registered Psychotherapist
Katlyn is a Registered Psychotherapist with 10 years of experience in the field of mental health and addiction. Katlyn’s experience has allowed her to specialize in working with individuals impacted by substance use, depression, anxiety, trauma, personality disorders, stress, and grief and loss. She integrates a variety of modalities into her practice including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI) and Attachment and Trauma Focused Therapy.