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Prevention & Treatment Programs for Cocaine Abuse

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  • 0:01 Cocaine Abuse
  • 1:35 Prevention of Cocaine Abuse
  • 3:20 Treatment for Cocaine Abuse
  • 4:30 Specific Treatment Approaches
  • 7:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

Cocaine is the most abused stimulant drug in the United States with over one million regular users. Fortunately, specialized drug treatment facilities are plentiful. This lesson discusses prevention and treatment programs currently available.

Cocaine Abuse

What is the number one health concern in the United States? According to the Centers for Disease Control, it's heart disease. It's the leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming over 600,000 lives each year.

Now double that. That's the number of people who admit to abusing cocaine in just the past month. Those aren't fatalities, but you can see why cocaine abuse is a serious health issue in the U.S.

Cocaine remains the most abused stimulant drug in the U.S. Stimulants produce extra brain activity, increase alertness, and promote a sense of well-being. They are a popular source of abuse because they can cause a sense of euphoria, which is an extreme feeling of happiness and delight.

Some studies report that just one use of cocaine can lead to addiction. However, prevention and treatment programs in the U.S. don't only address addiction. Instead, there are over 14,000 specialized drug treatment facilities, many of which treat a broader range of substance use disorders. This includes alcoholism, drug addiction, chemical dependency, and any other disorder caused by the recurrent use of drugs or alcohol.

Let's take a closer look at the prevention and treatment programs currently available for cocaine abuse.

Prevention of Cocaine Abuse

Most experts agree that drug abuse prevention is more successful than drug treatment when dissuading drug use. That's why many schools, churches, and communities invest in drug prevention programs. These programs educate people, typically with a focus toward young people, on the dangers of drug use.

For example, school drug prevention programs, such as the D.A.R.E. Program, are an attempt to discourage students from using drugs. D.A.R.E. stands for 'Drug Abuse Resistance Education'.

Drug prevention researchers have identified many different risk factors for cocaine abuse. They include:

  • Having a drug- or alcohol-addicted family member
  • Being of lower socioeconomic status and education
  • Living in an area that has high crime or drug use
  • Having low parental supervision
  • Being from a divorced or other single-parent household
  • Having early childhood aggression or other behavioral problems
  • Being the victim of abuse
  • Having thrill-seeking behaviors
  • Having a low recognition of the dangers of drug use

Successful drug prevention programs must work to identify and rectify these factors where possible. Students and counselors can then work together to plan a proactive stance for avoiding drug use.

Treatment for Cocaine Abuse

Once a cocaine user is identified as having a substance-use disorder, prevention methods are no longer appropriate. Experts recommend drug abuse treatment. Modern treatment includes a comprehensive assessment of the neurobiological, social, and medical aspects of the patient's drug abuse, taking into account any other addictions or mental disorders the patient might have.

There are a variety of different treatment options available. For the most part, cocaine abuse treatments can be tailored to the particular needs of the patient.

For example, an estimated three-quarters of all crack cocaine abusers are believed to be polydrug abusers. This means the user abuses more than one type of substance. Many cocaine abusers also abuse alcohol and marijuana, though polydrug abusers can abuse any combination of substances. Newer treatments are therefore designed to address all types of substance abuse.

Let's take a look at a few of the specific treatment approaches.

Specific Treatment Approaches

Let's start with pharmacological approaches. This refers to cocaine abuse treatment through the use of prescription medications. There aren't any medications used solely to treat cocaine addiction, but treatment experts sometimes use other drugs, such as disulfiram, which is used to treat alcoholism.

Researchers are also working on medications that specifically address the unique chemical changes cocaine creates in the user's brain. A possible cocaine 'vaccine' would block the entry of cocaine into the user's brain, reducing the risk of addiction relapse. Antidepressants and other common drugs can alleviate withdrawal symptoms, also reducing the risk of relapse.

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