Cocaine Archives - Hader Clinic Queensland

Ben’s Journey through Residential Addiction Treatment to Program Coordinator

Ben completed 90 days of residential addiction treatment and then went on to study at university. He then returned to Hader Clinic Queensland as a support worker and has now moved up to become one of the program coordinators. This is his story.

What started as partying in my teens snowballed into a decade of using that I couldn’t control and eventually, I had to seek residential addiction treatment. I was a swimmer in high school, and I found partying, drinking and taking drugs as a release from it all. I would do anything and everything that I could get my hands on. After school, I worked in my family’s business and generally tried to keep my drug use separate. I used drugs on the weekends but sometimes I would do coke and drink gin to get through the days at work.

Eventually in a 2-and-a-half-year period leading up to rehab my life started to spiral and my drug use got out of control. I got married but it didn’t start off the way I suppose it’s meant to. I had tried to get clean before the wedding, but it didn’t last long as I wasn’t committed to the change.

I started pushing my wife away, my work and addiction lives came crashing together, and I started using drugs daily. I was doing an eight-ball of coke a day which put me in a lot of financial hardship. I was making bad decisions and behaving very differently from my norm. I was selfish and treated those around me poorly. I still look back and feel ashamed of my behaviour then.

I tried to end my life one night after a bender and ended up in a psych ward. I didn’t want anything to do with anyone so I took off for a few months down south, thinking that I could change all my problems by getting away. I got a job but within a couple of weeks, I was selling drugs while I was working.

One night I passed out and woke up to everything gone out of my apartment. I just lost everything. I lost my wife, and my family didn’t want to talk or have anything to do with me. I didn’t want this life anymore and wanted some sort of normalcy again.

So, I ended up calling my mum, who I hadn’t spoken to or said anything nice to in a while, and told her that I needed to go to rehab. She must have been waiting for me to reach out and make the decision to get help, as she had done all the research on getting help for a family member. She suggested Hader Clinic Queensland, so I booked in. I drove for 10 hours up to the Sunshine Coast, detoxed on their couch for seven days and then went to rehab at Hader Clinic.

The first two weeks were the hardest and probably two of the most depressing weeks of my life. I did and didn’t want to be there so I was searching for two weeks for a legitimate reason why I could leave. I couldn’t come up with a good enough reason to leave, and the Hader Clinic staff helped me finalise my decision to stay.

Drug addiction treatment is not an easy thing, but it came into my life when I needed it. I learnt a lot about myself during my 90 days in rehab. Not only did they help me give up drugs, they really helped me become a better person.

I got my life back! I was trapped in a cycle of addiction and Hader Clinic Queensland gave me back a life through their residential addiction treatment program. My previous life revolved around money and drugs, and now I have so many other, nice things in my life.

I lost things in my drug addiction that I will never get back. I don’t regret much in my life but what I do regret is not getting clean sooner. I have this whole new perspective on life and the things that I want in my life. Rehab doesn’t fix you; you fix you. But it gives you the tools you need, it sets you up to change your life.

I have a process now that I follow and the better I am at following it the more positive outcomes happen in my life. Previously I would make little things in my life into massive issues, and not pay any attention to the big things. Now I have that better perspective and can look at things a lot clearer, I am making decisions that are generally more positive.

I never thought it was in my future to be helping other addicts and alcoholics, but I was participating in a lot of give-back at Hader Clinic Queensland and an opportunity came up to become a Support Worker, which has now led to a position as Program Coordinator. I jumped at the opportunity to work at the place that had done so much for me. I see a lot of my old behaviours and justifications in the people going through Hader. I’ve been exactly where they are.

I’ve been learning a lot about how to adapt my approach to what people need. I needed tough love when I went through rehab, but I know now that it doesn’t work for everyone. I try to instil in the clients that we can teach you and inform you of all the good things you can have for yourself and your recovery, but if you’re not putting it into action you’re not getting the full benefits of rehab. The person who does the work when they are in treatment is going to have a much easier time going through recovery.

I started in rehab not wanting to do anything, I wasn’t committed to my recovery. But then I committed, and I started putting all that I was learning at Hader Clinic into practice. Now I have a better life where my work is supporting people who are going through what I did at the place that helped me. I go to the gym and feel a thousand times better afterwards, get a good night’s sleep and feel energised and ready for the next day. I’m making better decisions for myself which are helping to make the bigger things work out. It was never in my plan to be where I am now, but I don’t think I could be happier. I got my life back.

 

Photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.

Ten Ways to Avoid Social Triggers

Maintaining friendships and taking part in social gatherings – be it family functions, work events or the classic Australian backyard barbeque – is an important part of recovery.

However, it can also be one of the most complex aspects, as these occasions can be highly triggering for those recovering from substance use disorders.

Consider the following strategies to enjoy socialising without jeopardising your recovery process.

BYO

Bringing your own beverages to a gathering is a safeguard against well-meaning offers of alcohol or being cornered in an environment where no alcohol-free options are available.

Clear Boundaries

You are perfectly within your rights to let people know that, while you are happy attending the get-together, you will not be partaking in alcohol and/or drugs and would like your hosts and other guests to respect and support this choice.

Buddy Up

If you’re not comfortable announcing your recovery status to the entire party, choose a trusted friend or family member as your moral support. If anyone offers you alcohol and/or drugs or tries to pry into your motives for abstaining, your buddy can provide distraction or simply whisk you away.

Escape Routes

If you suspect that certain parties at a gathering could compromise your recovery, plan your escape. Set an alarm on your phone and claim a work or family emergency for a quick exit.

Communicate

It is unlikely that your loved ones will give you a hard time for abstaining from alcohol and/or drugs; but open communication is always a good idea. If you are comfortable talking about your recovery journey, your loved ones will gather valuable insights and be able to support you more effectively.

Be Selective

There is no need to attend every get-together you’re invited to. To avoid getting overwhelmed choose your social events wisely and save your energy for occasions you are genuinely excited about.

Compare Notes

If you are feeling anxious about a social event, have a chat with your support group, mentors, or fellow recovering addicts. Knowing you are not alone with your feelings can be tremendously helpful – as can exchanging coping strategies.

Realistic Expectations

Truthfully, the first attempts at socialising during active recovery can be challenging and awkward – and that is perfectly normal. Learning to socialise without alcohol and/or drugs takes practise and does get easier over time.

Debrief

Scheduling a call or coffee with a supportive friend or fellow recovering addict to recap your experience of a social event can be very helpful in identifying particularly potent triggers and reinforcing your recovery momentum.

Trust Your Gut

If you’re have a bad feeling about a gathering, don’t go. If you feel like leaving half an hour into a celebration, do it. If, to your surprise, you find yourself having a great time and would like to stay longer than planned – fantastic! Treat yourself kindly and trust your recovery instincts.

Christmas Addiction Triggers and How to Manage Them

Christmas. It’s the most wonderful time of the year…unless you are a recovering addict staring down the barrel of a month-long, no-holds-barred partying nightmare.

According to statistics from the Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation (AADF), alcohol and/or substance-related incidents tend to spike dramatically throughout the festive season, including a 50% increase in ambulance attendance for intoxication. Add the social complexities of family get-togethers and work functions – or, in some cases, the lack thereof – and it’s no wonder that many recovering addicts view the month of December as an absolute minefield.

To make it through Christmas unscathed, it’s important to be aware of the most common triggers lying in wait and put strategies in place to avoid relapse. Some of the biggest challenges recovering addicts face during the silly season include:

Social Pressures

Yes, social drinking and/or substance use is bound to ramp up wherever you turn during the Christmas season; however, there are also other, more subtle stress factors at work. You may feel pressure to buy gifts for friends and family that you can’t really afford. You may worry about being labelled as rude for declining invitations to events that you deem too triggering. You may be about to see friends/family/colleagues for the first time since starting your recovery journey and have conflicting feelings about this.

Family and/or Friendship Dynamics

Theoretically, spending quality time with friends and family should be one of the best things about the festive season. In practice, it can be one of the most confronting aspects, especially when you’re in the middle of your recovery journey. There may be unresolved conflict that originates from your days of active addiction. It may be the first time socialising since you gave up drugs and/or alcohol, which can be a source of awkwardness, as some people may not know whether and/or how to approach the subject.

Loneliness

For some recovering addicts, Christmas can be a very lonely time – and loneliness is as powerful a trigger as social overstimulation. If you are not seeing family and/or old friends, whatever the reasons may be, you may experience a range of negative feelings that are counterproductive to your recovery.

However, it’s not all coal in this year’s stocking; with proper planning and consideration, you can minimise the impact of Christmas triggers and find the yuletide cheer without compromising your recovery.

Embracing “No”

This Christmas, give yourself the gift of saying “No” (or, if you feel some seasonal politeness is in order, “No, thank you”). You are allowed to decline offers of alcohol and/or drugs. You are allowed to decline invitations to events that you feel will be too hard to handle. You are even allowed to do so without explaining your motivations; although there is no harm in simply letting people know that you are in addiction recovery and need to look out for potentially harmful scenarios.

Allies Assemble

Everything is easier with a buddy. Trusted family members and/or friends make for excellent support systems during social gatherings. Having just one person in the room who knows what you are going through and can back you up if an uncomfortable situation arises can make all the difference. The same goes for recovering addicts who face a Christmas season without social gatherings; having a mentor/friend/counsellor you can call or meet up with to alleviate loneliness and maintain focus can be invaluable.

Self-Care First

Keeping up healthy habits during the Christmas season is enormously helpful. Eating well, hydrating in the scorching Australian summer, being active, taking time for mindfulness practice and – naturally – keeping up with your recovery program (be it AA/NA meetings or counselling sessions) are essential factors to ensure your wellbeing. Set yourself daily self-care goals and kick them – the effects will be self-evident.

Guerilla Tactics

Let’s be real: There’s always one (or more) friend/family member who is going to be difficult. That uncle insisting you have just one beer with him, that mate who bemoans the fact that you’re no longer cool…and sometimes there’s no avoiding seeing these people. If this happens, it’s time to go rogue. Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages to the party. Set a phone alarm to simulate a phone call and stage an early exit if necessary. Agree on a signal with your party buddy so they can step in and rescue you. Whatever works to keep your recovery going, now’s the time to do it.

Why Christmas is a Good Time to Seek Treatment

On the surface, Christmas may seem an unlikely time to seek treatment for drug and/or alcohol addiction. It’s a time to celebrate and spend with your loved ones. A time to make merry. However, therein lies the problem.

If you feel like your alcohol and/or substance use has spiralled out of control and will cause you and your loved ones anguish this Christmas, know help is available and there are some very good reasons to seek professional assistance this holiday.

It’s the Best Gift for your Loved Ones

You may think that your loved ones would hold it against you if you ‘disappeared’ into rehab during the Christmas season, but this is very unlikely. True, they may miss you and wish you could be with them, but starting your recovery journey is the best gift you could possibly give them. Reclaiming your life – and all the Christmases to come – will make every moment you spend with your loved ones better, simply because the real you will be present.

Christmas is Risky

Christmas can exacerbate substance misuse, after all, everyone is overindulging during the holidays; and it can have devastating consequences for you and your loved ones. Arguments, unsafe behaviour, embarrassing displays of simply being out of control – none of this says Christmas cheer, yet all of it is likely to occur when you mix addiction and the holiday season. By recognising your substance misuse and seeking help, you can pretty much guarantee you won’t impact Christmas negatively.

New Year, New Start

Entering rehab during the Christmas period means you can start the new year as a recovering addict rather than in active addiction. It may seem a little corny, but it also represents a fresh start in the truest sense of the word. Also, the thought of celebrating one year free from alcohol and/or drugs next Christmas can be a poetic and powerful prospect to see you through the rough patches of recovery.

It Gives your Loved Ones Time to Adjust

The kids are off school, most adults have some time off work…the Christmas period is not a bad time for your loved ones to come to terms with the effects of your addiction and the ins and outs of supporting you in your recovery. Remember, your loved ones are also going to need professional support and will need plenty of time to reflect – the holiday season can provide a very useful opportunity to do just that.

It is the Best Gift for You

If you are considering addiction treatment, give yourself the gift of taking the plunge this holiday season. Christmas is about love, kindness, forgiveness and giving…so giving yourself the chance to live a joyous, contended life free from addiction is the definition of the Christmas spirit.

Lucy’s Drug Addiction Recovery Journey

Lucy is 18 months clean and sober after completing 90 days of residential addiction treatment, the transitional housing program, and the outpatient program. This is her story.

With an early introduction to alcohol that spiralled into a drug and alcohol addiction, it wasn’t until my life had completely broken down that I sought help. I booked myself into the 90-day residential addiction treatment program at Hader Clinic Queensland and am now just under 2 years clean and sober for the first time in my life.

Both my parents were heavy drinkers. My mum is an alcoholic (sober for 4 years), and my dad drank heavily as well, so I was slowly introduced to alcohol through sips of drinks every now and then over the years.

I was about 14 years old when I thought I had found the answer to all my problems. A mate of mine had asked me to get rid of a bottle of vodka, so I drank it until I was very sick. Even though I was sick for 3 days afterwards I remember feeling like I had found what had been missing in my life as I finally felt at ease in my skin. I progressed to weed when I was about 16 and then other stimulants when I was about 18 or 19. I would say that I didn’t have a single substance of choice, it was more whatever I could get my hands on. I wouldn’t touch heroin though because a friend overdosed and died from that, and meth made me sick, so I stayed away from it as well.

I was successful in school, a high achiever and a state sportsperson who thought that my drug and alcohol use was just a phase. But as can be expected with addiction, things start falling apart. I chose drugs over my friends, preferring to isolate in my room and use (I wasn’t a social user). When things got hard, or something made me feel like I was doing the wrong thing I would just run away from it.

I tried every sort of therapy, dabbled in different religions, and even signed contracts with my parents pledging not to use drugs for a month. I tried moderating my use but stopping was never really something I ever wanted to do because it had originally made me feel good about myself (even though it had been a long time since I had felt good about myself at that point).

I moved back in with my parents, but I started spiralling out of control. I grew up in the upper middle class and no one talked about or acknowledged that addiction was a thing. As long as you looked okay from the outside you were okay. But I had not been okay for 8 or 10 years, and when it started to seep into my outside life I very quickly realised that I needed help. I had been engaging in really risky behaviours at this point, and my Mum eventually broke down and told me that every time I left the house she was worried that I would die.

I called Hader Clinic Queensland and booked myself in. I had originally tried to push my intake back due to university exams, but I didn’t do the exams because I ramped up my drug use in preparation for entering rehab. When I rocked up at Hader Clinic Queensland I didn’t feel intoxicated, but I had been drinking and I blew 0.17 on a breathalyser. That opened my eyes to just how bad my use had gotten, as I did not believe I was intoxicated at all. So, I knew at that point that I needed residential addiction treatment.

Going into rehab I had always thought that I would die early from using. But meeting the other people and the staff members made me realise that maybe it wasn’t how I was going to die. That my life didn’t have to be like this forever.

At first, I was a little apprehensive of the 12-step program as I thought it was an American cult thing wrapped in Jesus, but I soon realised that it didn’t have to be a religious thing. I’ve always been good with book work and once they set the 12 steps down in front of me I knew I finally had a guide to getting clean and staying sober. The in-built supportive community has been amazing as I finally get to talk to people who truly understand why I chose to use instead of going to my grandma’s funeral. There’s this collective accountability and understanding that helps me when things get tough.

After the 90 days of residential addiction treatment, I did the transitional housing program and then the outpatient program. They were phenomenal and the best way to introduce me slowly back into society as a sober and clean person. It was a great opportunity to be in a supportive environment with people that I had gone through the program with. I could ease my way back into life and learn how to be a sober adult but with the support behind me.

Since leaving the programs it’s been a little hard for me as I was diagnosed with cancer, and as any addict would know, it’s more complicated when you’re a drug user in treatment as they pump you with fentanyl and anaesthetic when getting operated on. My family has been so supportive with the cancer, and I have meetings supporting me with the drug concerns. So, I feel grateful for that.

Other than cancer, life has been pretty amazing. I’ve almost finished my degree, I have found healthier ways to manage my stress and I can cope with being on my own when my parents go on holidays. I have adopted too many cats, but I love them so much.

I now have friends who care about me and want me to succeed, I am looking into getting back into the workforce, I have a great partner who supports me through everything, and I have the world’s best sponsor. I’m just under 2 years sober and clean and thanks to my journey through Hader Clinic Queensland and since leaving I get to realise my passions and live a healthier, happier life of recovery.

 

Photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.

Drug Addiction, Psychosis and Redemption

Lizzie shares her journey from private school high achiever to drug addiction, psychosis and redemption.

By Taylah Fellows, Courier Mail
Pictures: Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

This article is from the Courier Mail. (Subscription required).

 

Lizzie’s journey from a privileged upbringing to a decade-long battle with drug addiction and eventual redemption is both an inspiring and cautionary tale.

She had a privileged upbringing, was an academic achiever at Brisbane private school and loved playing sport, but still found it hard to make friends.

For Lizzie, turning to drugs at age 14 was a way to connect with others.

Alcohol made her feel “comfortable” for the first time in her life, but it quickly became boring and was replaced with benders, marijuana, MDMA and cocaine.

Days bled together and sleepless nights merged into school days, so she took Ritalin and other study drugs to complete assessments and exams.

It wasn’t long after she morphed into a “party girl” that teenage Lizzie was introduced to methamphetamine.

“It was a big secret up until it wasn‘t,” she said.

“I knew how dangerous it was … we’d get amped up on ice and be super stimulated and then take GHB which does the complete opposite.

“I hid it pretty well for my family until friends were overdosing and I was failing school.

“I was getting really skinny and I wasn’t coming home and eventually, I was in a drug psychosis and I ended up just having to tell mum what was going on.”

Despite experiencing several mental breakdowns during her college years, Lizzie didn’t consider herself an addict.

She tried rehabilitation. It didn’t stick.

“While I was there my best friend died,” she said.

“I was in so much emotional pain I turned to self harm and I ended up taking someone else’s medication in there to try and soothe myself and I got kicked out.”

Mental health disorders, including substance use disorders, are the third leading cause of healthy years of life lost for Queenslanders.

Drug use disorders alone cost Queenslanders 50,854 years in 2022, up 2.1 per cent compared to 2021.

A 2022 inquiry into improving mental health outcomes found additional alcohol and withdrawal beds were needed across the state, as well as other specialist services to treat people living with substance abuse disorders including pharmacotherapy, psychosocial intervention, rehabilitation and harm reduction services.

There was a particular lack of treatment options and beds available in regional areas, with the committee also recommending more rehabilitation beds be made available for family members supporting loved ones with addiction.

Member for Moggil and member of the inquiry committee Dr Christian Rowan said there were significant accessibility challenges in the public rehab system and better service planning was needed to ensure various needs were being met in different communities.

“Addiction is a neurobiological disorder, a combination of genetics and neurobiological factors which need to be understood,” he said.

“That requires multidisciplinary care by various health professionals.

“Health workforce and planning for the future when it comes to medical specialists, physician and psychiatrists, nursing workforce and allied health professionals is really important and there are significant challenges in recruiting the workforce required to meet those issues.”

When Lizzie tried getting clean a second time, she completed her first year of psychology, got a good job.

But suddenly, “something clicked” and she “decided to self destruct again”.

“I lost that good job, totalled my car. I was getting done with possession, drunk driving, drug raids,” she said.

“Needles came into the picture. I started hanging around sex workers.

“But I was normalising it. I just saw the real world as a painful, unmanageable place … thinking like I just want to kill myself.”

A moment of clarity, and a deep desire to change her life led Lizzie back to the Hader Clinic Queensland Private.

She detoxed, completed three months of in-stay rehabilitation and another three months of transitional rehabilitation.

Lizzie is now 24 and 14 months sober, working a successful job with a new love in her life.

“For the first time in my life I don’t think about wanting to change the way I feel every minute of the day,” she said.

“I enjoy sleeping now. I don’t think I slept for like five years.

“I have people who care about me and they’re not transactional relationships.

“It’s cliche, but I had to figure out who I was, what colour I liked, what food I liked, just recreating my identity.

“I realised the real world is better than the world I was in.”

In 2021-22, 182 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in Queensland provided 49,674 treatments to 34,565 people.

Most received an average of 1.4 treatments, which is lower than the national average of 1.8 treatments.

A Queensland Health spokesman said three new residential rehab facilities were being built in Cairns, Bundaberg and Ipswich to meet rising demand.

The Ipswich rehab location is still under consultation, with the Bundaberg facility due to open in late 2024, and Cairns by 2025.

“The new adult residential treatment services will improve access to specialist treatment and support by delivering withdrawal management and care, as well as rehabilitation programs,” the spokesman said.

On a mission to destigmatise addiction, Lizzie now uses her success story to remind other addicts that help is available if they want it.

But she considers herself lucky to have stayed at a private facility, with many unable to afford it or struggling to access a public rehab bed.

“When I was 19 I thought, surely I can’t be an addict,” she said.

“People see addicts as criminals who are going to rob you and they’ve got diseases.

“But I’ve seen addiction look like so many different things to different people and -the feelings are the same, that deep despair and hopelessness and dependence on something outside of yourself to feel okay.

“To find others who feel like me was mind blowing and rehab is about surrender. It gave me space between that last use to really build up some sort of willpower or ability to not use drugs.”

Aids is a confidential support service for people in Queensland with alcohol and other drug concerns is available 24.7. Call 1800 177 833. To find out more about the Hader Clinic Queensland Private, click here or call 1300 856 847.

This article appeared in the Courier Mail on November 11, 2023.
https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/lizzie-shares-her-journey-from-private-school-high-achiever-to-drug-addiction-psychosis-and-redemption/news-story/a35da74405a4de4081f0bdc2ab8f90bf

Fears in Recovery

The fears in recovery can be overwhelming for individuals seeking help with addiction.

From the fear of withdrawal symptoms to the fear of relapse, these concerns can hinder the progress of recovery. However, there are effective strategies to overcome these fears and achieve long-term sobriety.

Explore the top 10 fears in recovery and learn about proven ways to beat them.

Top 10 Fears in Recovery:

  1. Fear of withdrawal symptoms: Intense physical and psychological discomfort during detoxification.
  2. Fear of judgment: Stigmatisation or labelling as a “drug addict” by friends, family, or society.
  3. Fear of failure: Concerns about successfully completing the rehabilitation program and maintaining sobriety.
  4. Fear of change: Intimidation towards making significant lifestyle, routine, and social circle adjustments.
  5. Fear of losing control: Anxiety about surrendering control to a treatment program or therapist.
  6. Fear of facing emotions: Frightening and uncomfortable feelings associated with confronting and working through emotional issues.
  7. Fear of the unknown: Anxiety and uncertainty due to unfamiliar environments, therapies, and routines.
  8. Fear of isolation: Apprehension about being away from friends, family, and support networks.
  9. Fear of addressing underlying issues: Overwhelming emotions linked to facing deeper underlying issues like trauma or mental health disorders.
  10. Fear of relapse: Anxiety and uncertainty about the possibility of returning to old habits and facing the consequences.

Ways to Beat the Fears

The good news is that any fears you may experience once you are in recovery are completely normal.

Here are 10 proven coping strategies to help you overcome these fears  and enhance your overall recovery experience:

  • Taking it one day at a time: Focus on the present moment to alleviate anxiety.
  • Connecting with recovered addicts: Find inspiration and perspective through group therapy sessions and support meetings.
  • Communicating your fear: Share fears with counsellors, therapists, and the recovery community to release their power.
  • Reaching out to family and loved ones: Seek open communication and family support to overcome feelings of failure.
  • Taking a leap of faith: Embrace the safe environment provided by trained professionals for psychological recovery.
  • Giving yourself permission to be vulnerable: Allow honesty and vulnerability as part of the healing process.
  • Engaging with the program: Trust the process and professionals to regain a sense of control.
  • Trusting: Believe in the decision to seek help and have faith in the staff’s expertise.
  • Fine-tuning your support system: Maintain connections with support groups, counsellors, sponsors, and mentors for ongoing assistance.
  • Accepting the possibility of relapse: Understand that relapse does not equate to failure and access support to get back on track.

By acknowledging and addressing these fears, individuals in recovery can overcome them and find the support needed to achieve successful recovery.

Hader Clinic Queensland’s residential rehabilitation program offers comprehensive assistance and guidance throughout the recovery journey, providing the tools and support necessary to conquer these fears and thrive in recovery.

What Happens To Your Body When You Use Cocaine?

As with all stimulant drugs, the effects of cocaine vary depending on the potency, purity, and quantity of the drug you ingest, as well as your health, body mass, and chemistry.

It is hard to predict the exact effect of any drug, which is why taking drugs is never risk-free.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug – or ‘upper’ – which means it speeds up the messages between your brain and body, causing feelings of euphoria and heightened confidence.

How does Cocaine work?

Cocaine blocks the dopamine transporters in the brain, causing an overproduction of this naturally occurring chemical. Dopamine regulates the pleasure centre of the brain and the amount of dopamine you naturally produce determines our sex drive, appetite, and general feelings of happiness. As the brain goes into overproduction, you will experience extreme versions of perfectly normal feelings and desires.

When you are high on cocaine you may experience

  • Euphoria
  • Out-of-character levels of confidence
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Increased libido
  • Loss of appetite
  • Illusions of grandeur, extreme strength, and mental clarity
  • Seemingly limitless energy levels

However, the overstimulation of your receptors and the overproduction of dopamine also has immediate negative effects, including

  • Anxiety, agitation, and panic
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Hyperventilation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature

Cocaine can also cause you to feel indifferent to physical pain, which means you are more likely to engage in dangerous activities, damage yourself and then aggravate injuries by ignoring them.

Can You Overdose on Cocaine?

Yes, you can absolutely overdose on cocaine. If you misjudge the strength or quantity of any drug, you are likely to take more than your body can handle and there is no way of knowing for sure how much that might be.

If you take too much cocaine, cocaine that is too strong or cocaine that is ‘cut’ with a different harmful substance, you might experience

  • High anxiety
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Brain haemorrhage
  • Stroke

What are the Risks of taking Cocaine?

In the worst-case scenario, a cocaine overdose will leave you comatose or dead. However, even if that doesn’t happen, there are many risks involved in cocaine use. If you use cocaine regularly or overdose, you may develop:

  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia and other sleeping disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Heart conditions
  • Cerebral atrophy (brain wastage leading to permanently impaired cognitive functioning)
  • Eating disorders
  • Hallucinations

Depending on how you ingest cocaine, you may also develop

  • A perforated septum (from snorting cocaine)
  • Breathing difficulties, chronic bronchitis, chronic respiratory disease (from smoking cocaine)
  • Tissue damage, collapsed veins, blood-borne viruses (from injecting cocaine)

Cocaine has the potential to wreak absolute havoc with your physical and mental health, even in its purest forms. The added risk of unknown substances being used to ‘cut’ any given batch of the drug means that you are also putting yourself in danger of side effects usually not associated with cocaine, such as abscesses and liver failure.

Learn more about cocaine addiction treatment here.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the brain by stimulating high levels of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward. The effects are often short-lived, causing users to use frequently.

Cocaine is highly addictive, and addiction requires hospitalised treatment through residential addiction treatment.

But what is cocaine, and how is it made?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, derived from the leaves of the native South American Coca Bush.

There is no telling how long natural cocaine has been in use for a variety of medical and semi-recreational purposes in its native land; however, Cocaine Hydrochloride, the purified chemical version of the active ingredient of the coca leaf, was first isolated in the early 1900s.

Cocaine Hydrochloride used to be a medical staple because of its numbing properties; it was in frequent use in order to block pain during surgical procedures. However, cocaine also made its way into everyday use – albeit in lower dosages – in the forms of cough syrups, cold remedies and even as an ingredient of early incarnations of Coca-Cola.

Since then, however, research has shown that regular and frequent cocaine use can have devastating consequences, including irreversible damage to our brain structure and brain function. As a result, cocaine has long since been declared a Schedule II Drug or illegal stimulant drug, meaning that possession, sale, procurement and consumption carry fines and/or jail sentences depending on the amount and individual circumstances.

There are currently three main types of cocaine in circulation:

  • Cocaine Hydrochloride – a fine white powder that can be snorted, ingested, rubbed on the gums or dissolved in liquid for injection. Street cocaine is often ‘cut’ with visually similar substances, such as baking powder, sugar or talcum powder, adding an element of undeterminable risk for the user.
  • Freebase – a white powder that tends to present fewer impurities than cocaine hydrochloride; however, it is also more potent and more likely to result in overdose.
  • Crack Cocaine – this crystalline form of cocaine is usually smoked and comes in a variety of colours ranging from pure white to pink and blue hues. It is the most addictive form of cocaine and its devastating effects on the user are well-documented.

Cocaine is known by many names, including:

  • Charlie
  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Nose Candy
  • Snow
  • Blow
  • White dust
  • Toot
  • White Lady
  • Stardust
  • C

Cocaine can be snorted, ingested, rubbed on the gums, dissolved in liquid for injection or, in the case of Crack Cocaine and Freebase, be smoked in a glass pipe. No matter the method, the high usually comes on fast and lasts between five and fifteen minutes. Once the immediate effects of cocaine wear off, the user often experiences a jarring ‘crash’ which can lead to repeated use within a relatively short time span.

Cocaine is considered an addictive and harmful substance, and there are no known safe levels of use.

Read more about cocaine addiction here.

What’s the Difference Between a Slip and Relapse?

Slip and relapse are two terms that individuals in recovery will often hear. They can sometimes be used interchangeably, so it is easy to become confused. But are they the same thing?

This article will help explain the difference between the two terms.

You may see slip and relapse as meaning the same thing. It often depends on your personal experience with addiction, which can have an influence on how you interpret the terms. To determine the difference between the two terms, it can be helpful to consider your intention. For example, a slip could be considered an unplanned use of alcohol or drugs, but relapse is when your recovery plan is totally abandoned. A slip is only temporary whereas relapse is more permanent. Slips can easily lead to relapses without proper intervention.

You may unknowingly go through a slip. For example, if you accidentally consume a pot brownie thinking it was a normal brownie. This is an obvious accident; however, slips can also happen because of temptation. If you’re at a party and everyone around you is drinking, you might slip and consume alcohol, thinking you will only slip ‘just this once’. This mentality can easily lead to a relapse, so it is important to consider whether it is worth it to give in to temptation. Being honest about your addiction and being aware of what may trigger you can be helpful in relapse prevention. However, if you do experience a slip, you should return to your addiction recovery plan at once, so you don’t progress into a relapse.

If you have slipped after completing your residential addiction treatment, it is important to acknowledge it and think about why the slip happened. Put in the effort to not make the mistake again and decide to stay in recovery. Talking to anyone who’s a part of your support system can help you move past it. It can be hard to move on from a slip, especially if you feel regret or remorse, but everyone makes mistakes and if you continue to work on recovering, the slip won’t hold you back.

If you have slipped a few times, this does not mean you are in relapse. Relapsing is completely abandoning your recovery plans. This means you have returned to your life before you started your recovery plan. So, if you are still making the effort to recover, you have not relapsed, just don’t use slips as an excuse for relapsing. If you have a habitual use of drugs or alcohol, this is not a slip, this is a relapse. So even if you’re not using all the time, it is still a patterned behaviour of usage.

If you are struggling with slips or relapses, the Hader Clinic Queensland can help you get back on track to sobriety.

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We are proud to be the only private drug and alcohol addiction treatment centre in Queensland to be independantly accredited.

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