Cocaine and methamphetamine are powerful stimulants, and work similarly in the human brain. Both of these drugs produce a euphoric “high” by triggering the brain to activate huge amounts of chemical messengers, the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, both necessary to produce and maintain a happy, confident mood. Our brains use dopamine to facilitate feelings of reward, pleasure and connection. Norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter of excitement and arousal. The activation of huge amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine together produce the cocaine/meth high – intensely pleasurable and intensely exciting. But in the process of creating this powerful high, cocaine and methamphetamine rob the brain of available dopamine and norepinephrine, and with each subsequent use make it harder for the user to experience pleasure from normal life events or feel connected to other people. The medical term for this condition is anhedonia. Coke or meth users, through their abuse of these substances, actually acquire a neurobiological clinical depression. Many end up requiring meth treatment or cocaine addiction treatment to overcome the physical and neurobiological effects of stimulant addiction.
When treating stimulant addicts in our Arizona drug rehab, we feel it is important to screen for possible co-occurring mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder– both linked to imbalances of dopamine in the brain. At Cottonwood, newly-recovering stimulant addicts are reassured that their brains will heal from the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine through our cocaine and meth treatment program and that they will be able to reattain feelings of pleasure and connection from everyday events – provided that they maintain abstinence from all mood-altering substances.
Addictions to substances such as cocaine and meth often exist in tandem with co-occurring mood disorders like anxiety and depression, or with other addictions. Learn more about Cottonwood’s Arizona behavioral health and drug rehab and our commitment to identifying co-occurring disorders.