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Does psychotherapy help in treating cocaine addiction? How can one abstain?

Does psychotherapy help in treating cocaine addiction? How can one abstain?



Stop snorting to get HighCocaine is one of the most commonly reported drug abuse. The drug triggers a chemical change in the brain, resulting in euphoria. Cocaine addiction results from a compulsive and uncontrollable desire to reuse the drug to experience the high again. A majority of cocaine addicts are multiple drug users. Hence, it becomes increasingly difficult for a person to break away from cocaine addiction without professional help.

The chronic use of cocaine has harmful consequences on one’s physical health as well as his family and social life. Hence the treatment for cocaine dependence and abuse should also be comprehensive to address all the issues. Both, the residential as well as outpatient rehabilitation approaches, offer a complete treatment plan for cocaine addiction. The rehabilitation center prescribes a thorough treatment plan to help overcome the cocaine dependence. While the pharmacological therapy is prescribed to deal with the physical withdrawal symptoms, the psychotherapy or ‘Talk therapy’ is prescribed to address the behavioural or social triggers to prevent relapse, by helping an addict say no to cocaine in future.

Psychotherapy involves behavioural interventions. The treatment usually begins once the patient is through with the detoxification process and is stable to attend the sessions. Behavioural therapy is found to be an effective complementary treatment as it engages the patient to continue their treatment.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT) is based on learning processes which play a crucial role in developing behavioural patterns that trigger drug use. The same learning processes are employed to help individuals overcome drug use. The focus is on modifying the behaviour patterns that drive a recovering addict to use the drug. CBT involves identifying and correcting these behavioural triggers by using a certain techniques, like evaluating the positives and negatives of drug use, self-monitoring and develop coping strategies to avoid high-risk situations. It can include social situations, pressure, loneliness etc.

There can be multiple triggers and the patients are encouraged to identify specific ones to help them take preventive action. The self-evaluation and monitoring puts an individual in control and helps him recognise and avoid situations, wherein he is most likely to use drugs again. Another form of behavioural therapy called Contingency Management also involves providing incentives for positive behaviour to prevent the relapse. A family therapy, on the other hand, can help address the environmental influence which triggers the drug abuse.

Recovery from cocaine addiction is a long arduous journey. Psychotherapy provides for regular interventions and immediate corrective actions which can help an individual stay on-course and away from drugs.

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