White, Snow, Coke, Flake, Blow, Big C… a short list of cocaine’s street names. The ‘celebrity drug’ has been taking thousands of lives annually, endangering hundreds of thousands of others who get addicted at the first hit. The ‘recreational use’ of the drug is on the rise within population ages 25-45, especially among young professionals.
Cocaine is a highly addictive, strong stimulant drug that affects the brain by increasing the levels of dopamine – the neurotransmitter that activates the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. After the release, dopamine recycles back to the cell that released it, cutting off any connection between the nerve cells. When a person sniffs, snorts or injects cocaine, the drug prevents dopamine from recycling to the cell, causing disruption of the normal brain function.
Cocaine is an illegal drug, that looks like a white, crystal powder. The drug is produced from the leaves of the native South American Coca Plant and is used for many medical purposes, including local anesthesia. To increase profits, street dealers combine the drug with powder, flour, or other drugs, like amphetamine.
Contrary to popular beliefs that cocaine is not that addictive and one can control cocaine use, the drug is known as the second most dangerous drug involved in overdose deaths. People snort, sniff, or inject water dissolved cocaine directly to the bloodstream. Also, many people smoke cocaine. Crack cocaine is the final product of processing cocaine with baking soda or ammonia, that gives the substance a smokable form.
1. How to Know if Your Loved One Is on Cocaine?
Signs of cocaine use are difficult to notice. The drug’s side-effects are similar to other health problems’ symptoms. Cocaine addiction is extremely dangerous. The drug is one of the most expensive out there and is famous for its short-term effect on the person. Compared to other drugs, like heroin, cocaine’s ‘high’ lasts shorter – from 20-30 minutes, 1-hour maximum – and can make the person instantly addicted.
If you want to know if your loved one is abusing or addicted to cocaine, look for the following:
- White Powder Clues – the drug has a specific look as a white powder. Look for the white powder on your loved one’s face, especially in the nose area. You might spot the powder on magazines, cell phone, credit cards and other flat objects from where it can be snorted. Also, you can find white powder on their clothes and other belongings. Look for rolled up dollar bills, CD cases, pipes, spoons or needles.
- Bleeding or Runny Nose – after a long use, the drug causes regular nose bleeds. Cocaine causes internal nose damage at heavy users. At the beginning of its use, the person tends to sniff more than usual. So, if your loved one has a runny nose, like during a cold, sniffs frequently, but doesn’t show any other physical signs of a cold, then it might be a cocaine abuser.
- Bloodshot Eyes – cocaine is a strong stimulant causing lack of sleep. Cocaine abusers have bloodshot, watery eyes at very odd times of the day. You might notice red eyes, especially in the morning.
- Dilated Pupils – one of the most common signs of drug abuse. This sign can be hard to notice because the pupils can stay dilated only while the person is high. But, cocaine users tend to repeat the process of getting high, because of it’s short-term effects, so you might notice dilated pupils after your loved one took several bathroom breaks.
- Needle Marks – at heavy users, needle marks are very common. Cocaine addicts dissolve the drug with water and inject it.
- Loss of appetite – cocaine addiction causes loss of appetite. Your loved one will start to eat less, and eventually, lose a lot of weight.
Read more: Understanding Heroin Addiction – Stay Informed and Make a Difference for your Loved One
Change in Behavior:
- Euphoria – cocaine causes euphoric feeling, so you’ll notice your loved one is happy for no apparent reason. The person is laughing and hyperactive until the drug loses its effect. Also, your loved one will have more energy and show increased self-confidence.
- Hallucinations – you may notice the loved one acts unusually compared to its previous behavior. Cocaine addiction causes hallucinations, and the person may become aggressive.
- Mood Swings and Involuntary Movements – after the euphoria, follows depression. Usually, cocaine takes its effect on the person after the high is over. The person feels anxious, depressed, and irritable. At times, they can get violent.
- Developing Bad Habits – cocaine addiction takes over the person’s life. Your loved one may lose their job, neglect their health and physical appearance. This drug is very expensive, so your loved one will need more and more money to buy it. They will steal, lie, and show any other sign of addiction.
- Sleep Changes – cocaine can keep your loved one awake for a couple of days.
Not sure if your loved one is struggling with drug addiction? Here are 30 Early Signs of Drug Abuse to help you discover.
2. Health Effects of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine, as any other drug, is extremely dangerous for the body. It’s regular use causes:
- Increased heart rate and increased blood pressure that leads to heart attack
- Muscle Twitches
- Loss of sense of smell due to snorting
- Kidney damage because of the high blood pressure
- Sinus damage
- Delayed ejaculation
- Ulcer – the drug constricts the blood vessels
Other side effects include risks of HIV and Hepatitis C because of needle injection. The person gets addicted if it develops high tolerance and immediate withdrawal symptoms shortly after the last dose.
3. Withdrawal Symptoms
Cocaine’s withdrawal symptoms can trigger suicidal thoughts. The withdrawal process – known as crash – lasts two weeks, but cocaine users can get strong cravings years after the last dose. Some of the withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense hunger
- High cravings
- Lack of energy
- Inability to feel pleasure
Help Your Loved One: Substance Abuse Intervention
A cocaine overdose can happen when the person takes new doses of cocaine while the initial effects of the previous dose are still present. Also, when the person takes a high dose when the effect of the previous dose passes. A common way to overdose with the cocaine is to mix it with heroin, also known as ‘speedball’. When overdosed, one can experience seizures and even heart attack. The condition is extremely dangerous and requires urgent medical attention.
4. Cocaine Addiction Treatment
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat cocaine addiction. However, there are many other approaches offered by various treatment centers, regardless if you enter a free or a luxury facility.
Wondering What to do Next?
If you want to help your loved one get into treatment, hopefully, some of these Intervention Methods and Techniques will help you. After your loved one accepts treatment, your will have to choose a suitable treatment approach together. There are plenty of free, luxury, holistic rehabs available, however, you need to take more into notice than just the price.
Learn More with our Three Part Series on Choosing the Right Addiction Treatment Center:
For more information please call our Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a Free and completely confidential call. We are available 24/7. In many cases, your health insurance company will cover 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now.