Veteran Crack Cocaine Addiction and the Available Treatment Options
Approximately one in every 10 veterans struggles with substance use disorder. Service members may experience trauma during deployment due to losing their colleagues or participating in hand-to-hand combat. While a veteran’s home return may seem like a joyous moment for their families, fitting into civilian life is a struggle for some, and they may end up using drugs to cope with difficult situations.
Cocaine is one of the most used drugs among service members. With time, they may develop an addiction and may continue to struggle with the issue even after leaving the army. Abruptly stopping cocaine use could lead to severe withdrawal effects, which is why you need professional assistance. Your first step toward recovery is understanding your condition and the treatment process. Here is a guide to getting you started.
What Is Crack Cocaine?
Crack cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant made from powdered cocaine mixed with baking soda and water. The ingredients boil together into a solid form, and once this cools, it’s broken down into smaller pieces and sold as rocks. The mixture produces a cracking sound when heated, hence the name crack. This drug is very concentrated, which makes it extremely addictive. Smoking is the most common method of taking crack. This introduces the drug directly into the bloodstream, which creates a powerful but short-lasting feeling of high.
Crack mainly affects dopamine levels, which plays a vital role in the brain’s neurological and physiological functions. Naturally, when your body expects a reward, it releases the right amounts of dopamine, making you feel more alert, focused, happy, and motivated. Taking crack triggers the production of high dopamine levels, which gives you a strong euphoric feeling. With time, your body associates the drug with a feeling of pleasure and gives you the urge to take more.
Effects of Crack Cocaine Use
The effects of crack cocaine can vary from one person to another since it’s produced in uncontrolled settings using inconsistent purity and quality of cocaine. Generally, it leads to a brief, intense high followed by depression and paranoia. Clients experiencing crack paranoia constantly feel like someone is following them or wants to attack them, which can lead to unprovoked violence. Other side effects include a decreased need for sleep. The substance also slows down your digestion system, resulting in a lower appetite.
People high on crack cocaine have abnormally large pupils caused by the high endorphins and adrenaline released. They may also have high blood pressure and an increased heart rate, which can be very dangerous in extreme cases.
Long-term crack use may lead to tolerance. In this case, your body requires a higher dose of the substance to achieve the euphoric effects you experienced the first time. As a result, some veterans take higher doses of crack cocaine, which can lead to an overdose. Based on a study, cocaine caused two thirds of overdose deaths among veterans. Some of the symptoms of crack cocaine overdose include:
- Excessive sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Extreme agitation
If your loved one experiences a crack overdose, call 911 immediately. Before help arises, try to keep their body temperature low with a cold press. If they experience seizures, clear away any object that could harm them and monitor their condition until help arrives.
Another long-term side effect of using crack is delirium, which can lead to hallucinations, panic attacks, and confusion. Smoking crack can also cause gum diseases. Because cocaine increases blood pressure and heart rate levels while lowering the supply of oxygen, the stress it has on the body can lead to heart attacks. Long-term use might also affect your mental health, leading to psychosis. In extreme cases, crack cocaine can lead to sudden death due to allergic reactions or overdose.
Signs of crack cocaine addiction include:
- Unexplainable weight loss
- Constant runny nose
- Severe depression
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Frequent upper respiratory infections
- Drowsiness and exhaustion
- Poor hygiene
- Trouble handling obligations
The only way to regain freedom from crack cocaine use and to protect your physical and mental health is by seeking help. Early intervention reduces the harm associated with drug use and increases the chances of recovery.
Why Veterans Are Reluctant in Seeking Drug Addiction Treatment
Unfortunately, American veterans are less willing to seek help with substance use disorders and other problems. The military culture emphasizes being strong, resilient, persevering, and ready for service at any time. As a result, most service members view seeking help as a sign of weakness.
The stigma around drug addiction also makes it hard for veterans to seek treatment. Society associates drug use with poor personal choices and moral failure. Since some veterans don’t want to feel judged by society or lose respect from others, they choose not to speak.
Helping a Loved One Get Treatment
Because of the reasons mentioned above, trying to convince a veteran to address their addiction and seek treatment can be difficult. First, educate yourself about addiction. Try to understand their condition so that you can guide your loved one in the right direction. Next, approach them about their behavior and pinpoint how it affects their quality of life. Avoid making judgmental statements to try and establish trust. Assure your loved one that you will walk with them throughout the treatment phase. If they still seem resistant, you may need to seek professional intervention from a mental health counselor.
Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment
One of the most powerful things you can do if you want to liberate yourself from crack cocaine abuse is develop the resolve to quit. This intention will guide you through all the challenging phases of recovery. The most effective treatment for crack cocaine will include a series of therapies and medications. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right treatment facility and consult a professional on the best treatment plans for your needs. Expect the following treatment processes.
Enrolling in a treatment center is the first step toward transforming your life. Upon arrival, a professional will receive you and inspect your belongings to ensure that you didn’t bring forbidden items that can compromise your recovery.
After admission, you will undergo a medical and psychological evaluation. A doctor may ask what substances you have been taking and how long you have had the addiction. They will perform dual diagnosis to determine if you have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Your doctor may also ask some personal questions to try and understand your home environment and common triggers. Based on the assessment, the doctor may recommend the following treatment options.
Also known as residential treatment, the inpatient option requires the client to stay within the treatment facility, which provides a controlled environment to prevent relapse. During their stay, clients receive constant monitoring and emotional support. This option will best suit veterans with severe crack cocaine addiction. It’s also ideal for people with limited support at home, those living in unstable environments, or individuals with co-occurring mental health issues.
Consider outpatient treatment if you need a less restrictive program that allows you to take care of your family, attend school, or go to work while still working on recovery. For this option, you visit the treatment facility for a few hours a day and are free to continue with your daily activities afterward. This option will only suit veterans with mild to moderate crack cocaine addiction with good physical health and a supportive social system.
Veterans who need intensive care but still want to recover in the comfort of their homes surrounded by their loved ones can consider partial hospitalization. This is a day program whereby you receive intensive treatment during the day and can return home every night. Partial hospitalization also suits people who have completed the inpatient program but still feel an imminent risk of relapse.
After picking the right treatment plan, the next step is to flush the drug out of your system. If you try stopping crack cocaine without expert help, it’s almost impossible to manage the drug cravings. As the body struggles to function without the drug, it leads to some distressing withdrawal symptoms that can be very dangerous when not well-managed. This is why detoxification should only take place in a controlled, safe environment.
Based on the severity of your addiction, you may start to experience withdrawal symptoms 30 minutes to 72 hours after your last crack dose. Some of the acute withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense craving
- Vivid nightmares
- Depressed mood
- Increased appetite
These symptoms may clear away after some time. Since crack affects your brain chemistry, it will take a while for the brain to adjust to life without the drugs. You may experience some acute withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, depression, anxiety, and insomnia months later.
Your doctor will develop detox plans based on your body chemistry and medical history. Crack detox involves a complete cessation of the drug under medical supervision, which allows the body to process the remaining crack in the system and slowly expel it. Your doctor may administer some medication to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms. Vistaril, vigabatrin, and propranolol help with anxiety while trazadone and seroquel can be used to address sleep issues. Clonidine can be prescribed for high blood pressure while gabapentin treats seizures. Detox stabilizes your body and helps prepare you for the subsequent treatment stages.
Half the people struggling with substance use disorder have an underlying mental health issue. Counseling is, therefore, a very important part of veteran addiction treatment that addresses the psychological aspects of drug use. The goal is to locate the cause of crack abuse and provide better coping mechanisms for mental health illnesses and skills for handling stress. Some of the most effective therapy approaches used include:
You will attend individual therapy sessions with your counselor to discuss personal issues you wouldn’t feel free to share in a group setting.
You will meet with people with similar struggles during group therapy to discuss your issues. Being in group therapy may also improve your communication skills and reduces the sense of isolation that often comes with dealing with an addiction.
A veteran with untreated substance use disorder may neglect responsibilities or begin to engage in behaviors such as domestic violence or child abuse. Family therapy helps address family conflicts, improves mental health issues, and allows family members to participate in the client’s treatment process.
This form of therapy helps clients recognize harmful thought patterns and emotions that influence behaviors like drug abuse. It teaches you how to manage stressful situations better.
This counseling approach aims to enhance a client’s motivation to change their behaviors. It encourages clients to take responsibility for their recovery.
Psychodynamic therapy helps you better understand your emotions and mental processes to make the best life choices.
Most people have a higher risk of cocaine relapse one to six months after quitting the drug. Before you leave the treatment facility, your doctor should guide you to the right aftercare program to help you maintain sobriety once outside the rehab center. Participate in the treatment facility’s alumni programs to engage with your colleagues and your therapist so that you can get advice and encouragement and participate in sober activities.
You can also join self-help groups to meet with a community of people who beat addiction and strive to live a sober life. If you come from a trigger-filled home environment, consider moving into a sober living home. These controlled environments with strict rules allow you to transition from the rehab facility to the community with minimal risk of relapse.
Get Help Today
Although crack addiction may seem like it has overtaken your life, treatment exists, and it works. Recovery will require commitment, social support, and professional assistance. Visit VeteransRehab.org for more resources on veteran crack cocaine addiction treatment.