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Cocaine Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Matt Gonzales
Joey Rosenberg
This page features
7 Cited Research Articles

Rehab for cocaine addiction comprises a combination of detox, counseling and support group meetings. These treatments and resources provide clients with the tools needed to achieve sobriety.

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can cause significant health complications, including viral infections, mental impairment, seizures, heart attack and overdose. Repeated use of the drug can lead to cocaine addiction.

Rehab centers are designed to help people with substance abuse problems. They have assisted thousands of people in overcoming a cocaine use disorder. In many cases, they go on to live healthy, sober lives.

Research has indicated that outpatient care is as effective as inpatient care for most people in treatment for cocaine addiction. At rehab, addiction experts address all aspects of a person’s well-being, including co-occurring mental health conditions and other factors that contribute to cocaine use.


Detox is the first stage of rehab. During cocaine detox, trained medical professionals help clients overcome the uncomfortable cocaine withdrawal symptoms that occur when they suddenly stop using cocaine. Severe symptoms, such as depression, should be treated at inpatient rehab.

Symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal include:

  • Slowed thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Depression

Medical professionals strive to help clients feel comfortable during detox. They may provide medicines to alleviate the effects of withdrawal, but the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any medications to treat cocaine addiction.

Research on Medication-Assisted Treatments for Cocaine Addiction

Ongoing research is investigating medications to reduce cocaine use and the risk of relapse after treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, several medications designed to treat other diseases have shown promise in reducing cocaine use.

These medications include:

  • Disulfiram (used to treat alcohol addiction)
  • Modafinil (used to treat sleep problems)
  • Lorcaserin (used to treat obesity)

Researchers have also developed a vaccine that could reduce the risk of cocaine relapse. The vaccine creates antibodies in the immune system that attach to cocaine and prevent the drug from entering the brain.

However, people who want to stop using cocaine should not attempt to use medications. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause side effects that individuals may not know how to handle. The safest option is to consider professional treatment.

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Counseling and Therapy

A number of behavioral therapies have proved effective in treating cocaine addiction. These treatments use a variety of unique approaches to reduce cocaine abuse. In general, counseling and therapy for drug addiction is more effective when it begins in an inpatient setting.


Laura Clarke of Advanced Recovery Systems lists types of therapies used during inpatient treatment for drug addiction, including cocaine addiction.

Contingency Management

Also known as motivational incentives, contingency management uses vouchers and prizes to reward clients who abstain from cocaine and other drugs.

Through this incentivized system, people who pass urine tests earn points or chips that can be exchanged for items that encourage healthy living. These rewards may include movie tickets, retail gift cards or gym memberships.

Research has shown that contingency management can benefit unique groups of cocaine users. For example, a 2011 study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that pregnant women and women with young children who received motivational incentives remained abstinent from cocaine longer than those who received the same amount of vouchers with no behavioral requirements.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychotherapy that helps clients develop critical skills to achieve long-term sobriety. Through this approach, people learn to recognize and avoid high-risk situations. They also learn to cope with problems related to cocaine use, such as anxiety.

In recent years, researchers created a computerized form of CBT that uses a series of modules to reinforce the key lessons and skill-development activities of traditional cognitive behavioral therapy. The interactive multimedia program, called CBT4CBT, includes quizzes, games and homework assignments that promote abstinence.

A 2009 study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence demonstrated that CBT4CBT helped reduce drug use among participants up to six months after completing rehab. Nearly 60 percent of participants in the study reported cocaine use as their primary substance abuse issue.

Therapeutic Communities

Therapeutic communities are drug-free homes. People in these residences help one another understand and change behaviors associated with drugs such as cocaine. Oxford House, a nonprofit network of democratically run sober homes, is a popular therapeutic community.

Therapeutic homes may require a six- or 12-month stay. They often include supportive services, such as vocational resources, that help people reintegrate into society after addiction treatment. They also provide resources to help improve legal and mental health outcomes among residents.

12-Step Programs

People recovering from cocaine addiction may find support through 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous. These self-help groups consist of individuals in similar situations who share their drug-related experiences with the group, including challenges and successes.

Cocaine Anonymous is a support group for individuals who want to recover from cocaine addiction. Through these meetings, people learn how to handle cocaine cravings and avoid situations that lead to relapse. The organization is not affiliated with a religion. It is open to men and women of all backgrounds, and meetings are free.

Aftercare and Recovery

Completing treatment does not guarantee long-term sobriety. People in recovery must work to stay sober and incorporate the lessons learned in treatment to their everyday lives. This includes continuing to attend outpatient counseling and 12-step programs throughout recovery.

Between 40 and 60 percent of people who complete treatment eventually experience a relapse, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Many of these individuals relapse in the first few months after completing rehab.

However, relapsing does not mean your treatment failed. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that can affect a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors. It takes practice and dedication to live a life without drugs.

Recovery is not sustainable if attempted alone. People in recovery need additional support to continue learning new ways to deal with stress, triggers and cravings that contribute to relapse. A strong support network is an invaluable resource for people striving to maintain sobriety after cocaine treatment.

Joey Rosenberg
Joey Rosenberg Editor,

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