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While cocaine abuse has declined since its heyday, it continues to be a common recreational drug for thousands of teens throughout the U.S., with use peaking in the late teens. Prolonged cocaine use can lead to addiction, although even low-level recreational use has been linked to adverse effects, especially in the brain and heart. At Visions Treatment Centers, our comprehensive programs offer a patient-centred, holistic approach to teen cocaine addiction treatment.

Although cocaine use correlates with a variety of factors, a significant one among teens is mental health. Teens who struggle with mood disorders and personality disorders are more likely to turn to cocaine, often as a form of self-medication, or to cope with episodes or symptoms. However, substance use can also exacerbate the symptoms of a teen’s mental disorder, and prolonged cocaine use correlates with worse symptoms of anxiety, depression, and interpersonal problems for teens with personality disorders.

At Visions Treatment Centers, we help teens struggling with mental health disorders and concomitant cocaine addiction. Known as a dual diagnosis, a diagnosis of both addiction and a mood, personality, and/or anxiety disorder requires a holistic cocaine addiction treatment approach, addressing the immediate consequences of cocaine use, the complex relationship between drugs and mental health, as well as identifying a long-term cocaine addiction treatment path incorporating addiction recovery and improvements to a mental health.

The Dangers of Teen Cocaine Use and Abuse

Cocaine has short, intermittent, as well as long-term effects on the brain. The effects of cocaine are at least partially cumulative and chronic use of the drug can lead to effects lasting years or may even potentially be irreversible. Its initial effect, regardless of how the drug is consumed, is a massive buildup of dopamine, the neurotransmitter typically associated with reward. But dopamine is more than just a reward mechanism. This is where the neurological effects of cocaine are complicated by the fact dopamine works on many levels.

This is amplified in cases of mental disorder, as the limbic system (which is where cocaine effects are primarily observed) is intrinsically involved in cases of mood and anxiety disorders, as well as certain personality disorders. Because it is a powerful stimulant, cocaine use also increases the risk of heart failure, stroke, and death. Its effects on the brain go past the mechanism of addiction and hint at cognitive impairment, which can be particularly dangerous in teens due to their developing brains. Some of the signs and symptoms of cocaine use include:

  • Compulsive use of cocaine disrupting other hobbies and responsibilities
  • Egregious risk-taking behavior
  • Inability to stop despite trying to
  • Financial issues (related to excessive drug use)
  • Heightened anxiety and depressive symptoms
  • Vehement denial despite clear evidence of abuse

Teen Cocaine Addiction Treatment and Dual Diagnosis

Cocaine use has a profound effect on a person’s life, as well as their mental health. In the case of a dual diagnosis, cocaine use affects the symptoms of the mental disorder a teen is struggling with, as researchers found cocaine users with major depression have a greater risk of dropping out of teen cocaine addiction treatment, have a harder time maintaining work, and are more likely to commit suicide.

Cocaine use also exacerbates poor decision making and inhibits emotional recognition in individuals with personality disorders, and heightens feelings of fear and panic in individuals with anxiety disorders. Cocaine use massively complicates treatment for teens with mental health disorders, which is why a careful and targeted approach is necessary. At Visions, our teen cocaine addiction treatment centers offer a variety of therapeutic programs, including:

Inpatient/Residential Treatment

Our inpatient treatment for dual diagnosis cases at Visions includes a thorough assessment of a teen’s physical and mental health, appropriate medication to help with immediate symptoms of withdrawal, as well as psychological symptoms, and an intensive therapeutic process involving talk therapy and experiential therapy, from cognitive-behavioral therapy to guided imagery and animal care.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

At Visions Treatment Centers, we also offer a program for teens for whom our inpatient treatment is not a good fit. Our intensive outpatient program care and partial hospitalization programs seek to help teens with dual diagnosis without requiring a residential stay, via an individually tailored and carefully scheduled treatment plan.

We work with teens and their families to help them find local resources to continue the path of recovery after treatment, and we strongly believe only an approach and environment tailored to each case can truly ever bring lasting and long-term change.


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