Treatment for Cocaine Abuse & Eating Disorders

Dealing with either an eating disorder or an addiction to cocaine can be an overwhelming experience. Attempting to cope with both of these problems at the same time can be devastating. If you find yourself in this situation, please know that you are not alone, that help is available, and that you can overcome these problems and live a much happier and healthier life.

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that produces intense, short-term increases in euphoria and energy. It can also suppress appetite, and chronic cocaine abuse has been linked to impairments in the body’s ability to store fat. For individuals who are already struggling with issues related to healthy eating and appropriate weight management, cocaine abuse can have a profoundly negative impact on their continued physical and psychological wellbeing.

The initial allure of cocaine is often associated with the brief intense boost in confidence, mood elevation, and energy that the drug provides. Individuals who are already struggling with an eating disorder may also be enticed by cocaine’s appetite-suppressant properties. However, both the intensity and brevity of these effects often compel users to repeatedly abuse this drug in order to re-experience these pleasurable outcomes. Of course, this continued cocaine abuse puts users at an ever-increasing risk for tolerance, dependence, and overdose.

The good news is that eating disorders and cocaine dependence are treatable conditions. However, it is essential that you receive comprehensive treatment that addresses the eating disorder, the substance use disorder, and any additional issues.

At Center for Hope of the Sierras, we understand the unique challenges that you are experiencing, and we have developed a highly effective program of comprehensive treatment services that can help you overcome your eating disorder while also learning how to live a healthier, drug-free life.

get confidential help now: 775.204.0680 Email Us


Experts estimate that more than 35 million Americans have abused cocaine at least once in their lives, and about two million of these people have used the drug at least once in the previous 30 days. Among adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, the rate of past-month cocaine use currently stands at 0.2 percent, and lifetime use of the drug stands at just under 1 percent.

One study involving women who have eating disorders and also engage in cocaine abuse indicates that about 50 percent of the subjects started abusing cocaine as a means of controlling their weight. A separate study indicated that teen girls who have eating disorders are four times more likely to abuse cocaine than are their peers who do not struggle with disordered eating.

Causes and Risk Factors for Cocaine Abuse among Those Suffering from Eating Disorders

The development of dependence upon cocaine or any other addictive substance most often results from a combination of genetic factors and environmental influences.

Genetic: People who have a sibling or parent who has developed a substance use disorder are more likely to have a similar problem than is someone whose family history does not include drug problems. If one or both parents have had substance abuse problems, the risk that their child will also struggle with addiction can be between three to eight times greater than the risk within the general population. A family history of mental illness increases a person’s risk for developing an addiction.

Environmental: Growing up in a family that has been impacted by substance abuse and/or mental illness can also be an environmental influence on the eventual development of a substance use disorder. For people who are using unhealthy means to lose weight, cocaine’s appetite-suppressing properties can make the drug an enticing substance. Experiencing stress, pressure, or trauma may also increase the likelihood that a person will abuse cocaine.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Personal struggle with mental illness or prior substance abuse
  • Being surrounded by drug abuse in one’s house or neighborhood
  • Living in an environment where drug use is prominent
  • Poor parental oversight
  • Personal history of prior substance abuse
  • Living or working in a high-stress environment

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse among Those Suffering from Eating Disorders

The signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse will vary from person to person depending upon several factors. Common symptoms that may indicate cocaine abuse or addiction include the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Apparent lack of need for sleep
  • Rapid speech patterns
  • Unprovoked emotional outbursts
  • Reckless and risky behaviors
  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Lying about whereabouts, associates, and activities
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Physical symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose and persistent nosebleeds
  • High blood pressure and increased heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased energy

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Euphoria
  • Excessive confidence
  • Poor decision-making capabilities
  • Psychosis

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Agitation and irritability
  • Depression
  • Loss of interest in issues and events that were previously important
  • Inability to experience pleasure without drugs
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Cocaine Abuse among Those Suffering from Eating Disorders

The following are among the many ways that chronic cocaine abuse can damage a person’s life:

  • Heart attack
  • Respiratory distress
  • Hypertension
  • Damage to liver and kidneys
  • Stroke
  • Irreversible cognitive impairment
  • Financial devastation
  • Strained or ruined personal relationships
  • Declining performance at work
  • Unemployment
  • Academic failure
  • Job loss and chronic unemployment
  • Homelessness
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal ideation

Co-Occurring Disorders

Unfortunately, individuals who are battling eating disorders and a cocaine abuse problem often suffer from additional mental health conditions or substance abuse concerns at the same time. In many instances, when a person seeks treatment for anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder, and co-occurring cocaine abuse problem, the professionals at that particular treatment center identify and subsequently provide treatment for other afflictions that also require proper care. The listed mental disorders are among those that can frequently occur alongside eating disorders and a cocaine abuse problem:

  • Additional substance use disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Trauma and stressor-related disorders

Types of Treatment Offered at Center for Hope of the Sierras

From the day we accepted our first client in 2003, Center for Hope of the Sierras has been dedicated to providing life-changing treatment to adolescents and adults who are struggling with an eating disorder and co-occurring conditions, such as a cocaine abuse problem. Housed in a beautiful, 10-bed, country-style home in a quiet neighborhood, Center for Hope offers a nurturing and supportive environment in which clients work in close collaboration with experienced professionals whose skills are surpassed only by their compassion and commitment.

Our treatment options include residential, partial hospitalization (PHP), and intensive outpatient (IOP) programs for adolescent and adult females, ages 16 and up (ages 14 and up for PHP and IOP). We also provide PHP and IOP treatment for adolescent and adult males, ages 14 and up.

Center for Hope is also proud to be one of the few residential eating disorder programs in the United States that accepts clients who follow vegan or vegetarian diets, or who have celiac disease.

In addition to treating the specific symptoms of your eating disorder and cocaine addiction, one of our primary objectives is to help you develop the ability to be an intuitive, mindful eater. We will work closely with you to help you overcome the diet mentality, learn to embrace how food helps fuel your body, and gain an appreciation for how maintaining appropriate nutrition can help you respect your body and honor your health. We have found that by adhering to the philosophy of intuitive eating, you can develop the greater sense of self-confidence that can be an essential component of your long-term recovery.

When you participate in treatment at Center for Hope, you will receive comprehensive care that has been personalized to meet your specific needs. Depending upon your unique situations, you may follow a treatment plan that includes the following elements:

Medication management: Depending upon the nature of your disorders, you may benefit from having certain prescription medications incorporated into your treatment plan. Our medication management services include weekly meetings with a psychiatrist and ongoing medication management provided by registered nurses.

Individual therapy: During residential treatment, you will participate in three individual therapy sessions each week with your primary therapist. These individual sessions provide a valuable opportunity for you to process any successes or setbacks that you have experienced, as well as address any questions or concerns that you have about your treatment.

Group therapy: Group therapy is one of the fundamental aspects of treatment at Center for Hope. Participating in groups will allow you to share your insights, learn from the experiences of others, and practice the new skills that will support long-term recovery. During residential treatment, you will participate in two to three group therapy sessions every day, Monday to Friday. Group therapy sessions, which are led by therapists and social workers, may focus on the following topics:

  • Mindful eating
  • Body image
  • Anxiety management
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Music and art appreciation
  • Life skills
  • Family systems
  • Recovery maintenance
  • Process group
  • DBT
  • ACT

Experiential therapies: Experiential therapy offers you the opportunity to engage in activity-oriented experiences that may incorporate recreation or active education into the therapeutic process. Every week that you are in residential treatment at Center for Hope, you will have several opportunities to participate in experiential therapies such as the following:

  • Yoga (offered one to two times per week)
  • Massage
  • Reiki
  • Creative expressions
  • Cooking class
  • Music appreciation
  • Equine therapy (offered once each week)

At Center for Hope, we understand that residential care is just one step in the long-term process of recovering from an eating disorder and an addiction to cocaine. To ensure that you are able to successfully maintain and build upon the progress that you make with us, we begin planning for your life after discharge the day that you start treatment.

Depending upon your specific objectives, as well as the progress that you make during treatment, discharge planning may include a range of aftercare options, including step-down treatment, such as a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or an intensive outpatient program (IOP), or referrals to community-based support services. To ensure that you have the support you need to make a healthy and productive transition, our staff aftercare coordinator will follow up with you at regular intervals for six months following completion of residential treatment.

At Center for Hope of the Sierras, we respect the courage that it takes to enter treatment for an eating disorder and cocaine addiction, we welcome each person chooses to heal with us, and we pledge to remain true to our mission of providing a nurturing and supportive environment where each client is treated with the utmost dignity and compassion.

To learn more about Center for Hope of the Sierras, please feel free to contact us at your convenience. We look forward to answering all of your questions and helping you determine if our program is the perfect place for you.

get confidential help now: 775.204.0680 Email Us