Cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant derived from the coca plant. This fine white powder can be inhaled, injected or smoked and gives users a feeling of euphoria and increased energy, but it also carries severe negative effects such as drastically increased heart rate, temperature and blood pressure. Cocaine is highly addictive and is classified as a schedule II drug by the US government.

“Crack” cocaine is a common derivative of cocaine that is made when cocaine is cooked with other substances (such as baking soda) to produce a rock-like substance that can then be smoked, allowing for a quicker and more intense high than snorting cocaine can achieve. Crack is often considered to be the most addictive form of cocaine, though that has been contested.

Cocaine acts by flooding the brain’s natural reward pathways with dopamine. The build up of dopamine results in the euphoric feeling that cocaine users seek. The high that accompanies cocaine usage is often short lived, normally 20-30 minutes when inhaled and 5-10 minutes when smoked. This leads users into binge patterns where they use cocaine repeatedly in short periods of time and increasing amounts. Binge use carries an even greater risk of addiction and can cause increased irritability and paranoia, and in some cases full blown paranoid psychosis and auditory hallucinations.

In the human body, cocaine immediately increases temperature and heart rate, constricts blood vessels, and dilates pupils. As with most drugs, cocaine users develop an increased tolerance, leading them to consistently increase cocaine doses in order to achieve the same kind of high. While higher doses can increase the high, they can also lead to erratic behavior, paranoia, formication (the feeling that bugs are crawling beneath one’s skin, aka “crack bugs”), and even sudden cardiac arrest.

A cocaine high is followed by an immediate “come down” that is often accompanied by an intense desire for more cocaine, irritability, sleepiness, anxiety, depression, agitation, and paranoia.

The detox service at Serenity House in Abilene, Texas offers a safe way for patients to come down off of cocaine and other drugs. Patients receive assistance from expert nurses and physicians to allow their bodies to safely adjust to a life free from alcohol and drugs, which is an important initial step in the recovery process. Serenity House also provides highly-trained, professional counselors to guide patients through the drug and alcohol treatment program, where we equip them with the tools they need to successfully navigate the road to recovery.

After detox, each patient’s needs are assessed, and he/she works with his/her counselor to develop a personalized treatment plan that identifies the issues that will be focused on during treatment. Resources at Serenity’s three Texas campuses include group, individual and family counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and special classes on a variety of topics including grief, relapse, parenting, relaxation, safety and many more. Every person’s experience is different, and we strive to customize the recovery experience to each patient’s needs.

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