Benefits of the cognitive-behavioral approach to cocaine addiction

Cocaine is a substance whose consumption produces very powerful physical, psychological and social wear and tear in those who fall into a dynamic of addiction and drug addiction. It is not only that the entry of this drug into the body causes harm to the body; moreover, it causes the person to internalize a series of habits and behaviors that increasingly aggravate the problem, making cocaine use the main incentive offered on a daily basis.

Fortunately, from psychology there are several tools to overcome addiction, and among them cognitive behavioral therapy stands out. In this article we will see how psychological intervention based on the cognitive-behavioral approach is used in the face of cocaine addiction.

Characteristics of cocaine addiction

Among the hard drugs used illegally, cocaine is the most widely used in the world. This is partly because, despite its clandestine marketing, its consumption is relatively frequent not only in the popular classes but also in the middle and upper classes, and moreover, it is not only used in contexts of leisure and festive evenings, but is also consumed in contexts related to work and professional activity in general (for its stimulating effects). On the other hand, unlike cannabis, it has a regular clientele that is not limited to young people.

But being such a popular drug does not at all mean that its harmful effects on the body and behavior are insignificant. This substance crosses the blood-brain barrier after circulating in the bloodstream and from there passes to the central nervous system.

The primarily affects neurons in the ventral tegmental area and from there strongly influences the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain that is part of the so-called reward system, which is able to generate the experience of gratification that leads us to want to repeat certain actions to relive the pleasant consequences they produce. Specifically, cocaine makes nucleus accumbens cells more exposed to dopamine, a neurotransmitter known to enhance brain activation when present in the body.

But this is not the only way in which cocaine alters the functioning of the body, and the various ramifications of the “domino effect” produced by the entry of the drug into the body are very varied and complex, and are unique to different people. .. in question. Thus, this drug has multiple “side effects”; some of them are relatively common in everyone who takes them, and others are unexpected.

Common symptoms and effects of cocaine use include:

  • Pulse acceleration.
  • Irritability.
  • Increase in body temperature.
  • Increased sensitivity to light.
  • Tremors.
  • Increased tendency to impulsiveness.
  • Paranoid thoughts.
  • Increase in behaviors associated with extraversion and the desire to socialize.

Cocaine poisoning this can range from erratic and uncontrolled behaviors in relatively unrelated cases to death from cardiac arrest in more severe cases.

In addition to this, cocaine damages the digestive system if consumed orally and the respiratory system if consumed smoked or inhaled.

This is the cognitive-behavioral approach to treating cocaine addiction

The cognitive-behavioural approach is based on the idea that to promote the emergence of positive changes in people’s quality of life, it is important act both in the way they interact with their environment through observable actions, and in the way they manage their internal psychological processes. In other words, cognitive behavioral therapy works along two main paths: modifying the ways of behaving objectively and modifying the ways of interpreting the world, maintaining beliefs and ideas and managing emotions.

The main characteristics of this type of therapy used in cocaine addicts are as follows.

1. Psychoeducation

Especially in the initial phase of cognitive behavioral therapy, it is common to practice psychoeducation, explain in a didactic way everything you need to know about the disorder you suffer from. It is important for the patient to understand all the implications of what is happening to them, and to know that they can move on.

2. Detection of problematic behaviors

To deal with the problem of cocaine addiction, one must understand its fundamental elements, and know how to distinguish them in everyday life in order to recognize them quickly when they arise. Many of these psychological elements that “fuel” the addiction and keep it going are ways to relate to others and to relate to the environment.

In this part of the therapy, the patient is helped to reflect on his life and to recognize certain routines and habits as problematic, such as always keeping a supply of medicine in the drawer of the desk where he works, or keeping a card in his wallet. expired credit currency just to get cocaine streaks.

3. Detection of problematic internal psychological processes

These can be divided into two groups: beliefs that reinforce the presence of addiction in the patient’s daily life, and thoughts and emotions that trigger cocaine use as they emerge into consciousness (or that increase the risk of relapse).

4. Help the patient improve their self-esteem and self-efficacy

Strengthen the patient’s ability to respect themselves and value their achievements it is essential for him to be involved in the process and not to give up, as well as for him to be satisfied with the objectives achieved and these serve as a motivator (otherwise he would attribute these achievements to luck or to the influence of others). Therefore, in psychotherapy, strategies are applied to build self-esteem and self-efficacy, the latter being the ability to have a realistic notion of what one can accomplish.

5. Create a routine plan with non-drug incentives

On the other hand, in cognitive behavioral therapy, a plan of new personalized routines and habits is created, which it allows the patient to have new sources of satisfaction and motivation not only outside of cocaine use, but also outside of social settings where it’s all about drugs.

6. Support for managing emotions

During the process of quitting cocaine and facing a new way of life, it is normal for new fears to arise, a feeling of guilt to look back on the uncontrollable life that was taken, etc. This is why psychologists they help patients deal with these feelings and emotions properly, without letting them become obstacles and increase the risk of relapses.

7. Support in building personal relationships

Relationships or others are a key dimension in overcoming addictions. If the person feels very alone, they will be much more exposed to the possibility of a relapse. Likewise, many people find it difficult to make friends or find a partner by not knowing what and how to explain their life as an addict.

Looking for addiction treatment?

If you are currently seeking treatment options for cocaine or other drugs, contact our team of healthcare professionals.

In plow light We work from medicine and psychotherapy to accompany all patients through all stages of overcoming addictive disorders, from detoxification to rehabilitation and reintegration. In addition, we offer the possibility of performing residential treatments in short or long stay programs in our fully equipped facilities. You will find us in Picassent, Valencia.

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