How long does it take to get addicted to cocaine?

To answer the most pressing question on everyone’s mind: yes, cocaine is very addictive and can lead to addiction even after just one try. Though instances of such are far less common compared to drugs like fentanyl or heroin, cocaine still carries a significant risk of causing addiction. As for the specific timeframe of how long it takes to get addicted to cocaine? It can vary, depending on a number of factors, some of which are uncontrollable like genetics, stress, and age. Those aside, there are a few factors that cocaine users do have control over and can determine how quickly cocaine addiction happens. 

Cocaine’s Short Half-Life

A cocaine high is easy come, easy go – and often leads to a cycle of constantly chasing that high. The psychoactive effects of cocaine occur quickly upon entering the body, happening in as little as a few minutes. Users feel a rush of pleasure, confidence, and energy as their bodies are flooded with dopamine – but it doesn’t last long. Because cocaine has a short half-life, those good feelings from cocaine typically end after 30 minutes or as quickly as 5 depending on the user’s tolerance. This usually causes a dangerous pattern of bingeing and crashing which can easily turn into compulsive abuse. In addition to an increased frequency of use, the dosage tends to increase as well, exponentially increasing the risk of developing a cocaine addiction. 

Method of Use

The way cocaine is taken – snorting, smoking, oral ingestion, or injection – can determine how long it takes to get addicted. While all of the ways of using cocaine carry inherent risk, intravenous injection significantly increases the odds that addiction will occur. The injection method puts large amounts of the drug directly into the bloodstream where it is almost instantly absorbed. Not only does this bypass the normal filtration cocaine would otherwise go through if it were to pass through the lungs or the liver should it be taken by other means, but it also heightens the intensity of cocaine’s effect. Increased levels of dopamine disruption equals a greater likelihood of addiction. 

Pre-Existing Mental Illness

Mental health disorders are closely tied to instances of substance abuse and addiction. Depression, anxiety,  One can cause the other or exacerbate the symptoms of the other condition. Regardless of which came first, when drugs are combined with an already-present neurochemical imbalance, it can result in a higher proclivity for both physical and psychological dependence. It also adds a level of complexity to treating addiction and many rehabilitation facilities have realized the necessity for a specialized approach. Dual diagnosis treatment is the best suited for co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Treating Cocaine Addiction 

There are currently no medications for treating cocaine addiction or to use during instances of an overdose (source). However, medical detox can help manage the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal or provide life-saving interference in the case of a cocaine overdose. When it comes to long-term recovery, most treatment for cocaine abuse involves behavioral modification such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy. No matter if you are a long-time addict or in the beginning stages of dependency, treating cocaine addiction is complex and multifaceted and is best handled at a specialized facility with experienced staff. Additionally, being able to identify the signs that someone is sniffing cocaine means being able to get your loved one help sooner rather than later. 

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