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Recognizing Cocaine Relapse

Recognizing Cocaine Relapse

According to research, 1.9% (about 5.2 million) people aged 12 or older in the United States reported using cocaine in the past year. Among the same age group in 2020, 0.5% (1.3 million people) had a cocaine use disorder.1 Cocaine is a psychostimulant drug that’s often sold on the streets and used for recreational use. While this drug may be used in medical settings, street cocaine that’s made in clandestine labs with various cutting agents is most often abused. 

Due to cocaine’s impact on the brain’s limbic system, it can be difficult for people to remain sober after getting help. Therefore, it’s important to look out for signs of cocaine relapse in past users.   

What Is Relapse?  

Generally speaking, relapse is deterioration after experiencing improvement. When applied to drug addiction, a drug relapse refers to returning to drug use after a period of abstinence or sobriety.   

It’s important to understand that relapsing on cocaine doesn’t mean that a person failed at recovery. Because substance use disorders are never cured, addiction recovery is a lifelong journey that will have its ups and downs. While it’s preferred that individuals in addiction recovery do not relapse, it’s not uncommon.  

The cocaine relapse rate is similar to those of chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, and hypertension, further supporting the belief that addiction is a chronic disease rather than a choice. Like these diseases, addiction is not only chronic but often recurring.   

This means that relapse isn’t just possible but likely for individuals who have completed drug or alcohol addiction treatment. For this reason, levels of addiction care usually include continuous support or aftercare services to keep patients motivated and offer them ongoing guidance after rehab. Again, relapsing doesn’t mean that treatment didn’t work. Rather, it means that treatment is required again, as with any other chronic disease.   

High-Risk Situations for Relapse  

Cocaine relapse statistics indicate that crack relapse is common. According to research, approximately 24% of people relapse to weekly cocaine use a year after receiving addiction treatment.   

Another 18% of people end up returning for stabilization care and treatment. Cocaine relapse rates are usually higher among those with more severe substance use disorders. [Text Wrapping Break] 

The longer a person has been addicted to cocaine, and the heavier their use of the drug, the more likely they are to relapse. This is also true of those who attended shorter treatment programs or ended their programs prematurely.  

So, what are some situations that could lead to cocaine relapse? There are various relapse risk factors that people in addiction recovery (and their loved ones) should keep in mind, including:   

  • Former drug dealers 
  • Friends and family that use drugs 
  • Locations where cocaine was used 
  • Finding drug paraphernalia or stashes of drugs at home, in the car, or anywhere else 
  • Negative emotions like stress, anxiety, or depression 
  • Loss of a loved one 
  • Trauma 
  • Exhaustion or poor sleep 
  • Boredom  

Additionally, while relapse can be triggered by certain events, relapse is not a single event but rather a culmination of thoughts and behaviors leading up to the decision to use cocaine again. For instance, a recovering cocaine addict who’s been struggling with depression will most likely be pushed to use cocaine again if they lose a loved one.  

Our Chicago PHP offers the right amount of support and flexibility to help clients recover while adapting to a sober lifestyle. If you’ve yet to receive treatment or haven’t found anything that works, our facility might be able to help.   

Cocaine Relapse Warning Signs  

Fortunately, there are many warning signs of cocaine addiction relapse to look out for. Those completing PHP or IOP for addiction and their loved ones should be aware of the following warning signs of cocaine relapse: 

  • Missing check-ins with aftercare services (counseling, support groups, 12-step programs) 
  • Failing to use the coping skills learned in treatment to deal with stress or other difficult situations  
  • Experiencing an increase in drug cravings 
  • Engaging in other compulsive behaviors such as gambling, binge eating, overworking, and overexercising 
  • Spending time with drug-using friends or drug dealers 
  • Spending time in places where the person used to use drugs 
  • Feeling a lack of support from loved ones to stay sober 
  • Experiencing thoughts of using cocaine again 
  • Bottling up thoughts and emotions  
  • Withdrawing from loved ones 
  • Poor self-care (eating poorly or not eating at all, poor sleep habits, lack of hygiene) 
  • Glamorizing past use of cocaine 
  • Minimizing the repercussions of cocaine abuse to justify potentially reusing the drug 
  • Mood swings or irritability 
  • Lying to others or engaging in secretive behavior 
  • Planning to relapse or looking for opportunities to relapse 

Unfortunately, many people relapse before these signs are realized, but it’s not the end of the line. Should a relapse occur, people shouldn’t react as if all their progress up to that point is lost.  

On the contrary, treat this relapse as one that would occur with any other chronic disorder and you’ll see that, with continued treatment, regaining sobriety is possible. Our cocaine addiction treatment can help you or a loved one either begin their recovery or get back into their routine, no matter how serious their disorder.  

To learn more about our Illinois addiction treatment, call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 



NIH - What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States? 


Related Reading:  

What to Do After A Relapse  

Why Do People Relapse? 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.