Treatment for Cocaine Abuse
An enormous increase has occurred in the number of people seeking treatment for cocaine addiction during the 1980s and 1990s. Treatment providers report that cocaine is the most commonly cited drug of abuse among their clients. The majority of individuals seeking treatment smoke crack, and are likely to be multiple-drug users, or users of more than one substance. The widespread abuse of cocaine has stimulated extensive efforts to develop treatment programs for this type of drug abuse.
Cocaine abuse and addiction is a complex problem involving biological changes in the brain, as well as myriad social, familial and environmental factors. Treatment of cocaine addiction, therefore, is complex and must address a variety of problems. Like any good treatment plan, cocaine treatment strategies need to assess the psychobiological, social and pharmacological aspects of the patient’s drug abuse.
It is important to match the best treatment regimen to the needs of the patient. This may include adding to or removing from an individual’s treatment regimen a number of different components or elements. For example, if an individual is prone to relapses, a relapse component should be added to the program.
Many behavioral treatments have been found to be effective for cocaine addiction, including both residential and outpatient approaches. Indeed, behavioral therapies are often the only available, effective treatment approaches to many drug problems, including cocaine addiction.
After stabilization, treatment can take place in an inpatient or outpatient program. Recovery begins with a learning process of breaking old habits, ties with cocaine-using friends and identifying “triggers” that increase desire to use cocaine.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another approach. Cognitive-behavioral coping skills treatment, for example, is a short-term, focused approach to helping cocaine-addicted individuals become abstinent from cocaine and other substances. The underlying assumption is that learning processes play an important role in the development and continuation of cocaine abuse and dependence.
The same learning processes can be employed to help individuals reduce drug use. This approach attempts to help patients to recognize, avoid and cope; for example, recognize the situations in which they are most likely to use cocaine, avoid these situations when appropriate and cope more effectively with a range of problems and behaviors associated with drug abuse.