Cocaine is the most powerful naturally created stimulant in the world. In its crystalline powder form, cocaine is considered an upscale, high-class drug and one which has been glamorized and sensationalized in film, television, and music. Recreational use of the drug can lead to addiction, significant financial loss, increased risk of heart attacks, and hardened arteries and aorta. We’re detailing common cocaine addiction signs to look out for in hopes of aiding some in the early detection and treatment of this disorder.
Understanding Cocaine Addiction
When a person is distinguishing the difference between physiological and psychological addiction, they are most likely referring to withdrawal symptoms. Substances such as alcohol and opiates leave long-term users racked with intense pain, nausea, and other debilitating physical symptoms of withdrawal upon ceasing use. While cocaine abuse does not lead to this type of withdrawal, other symptoms such as fatigue, depression, sleep problems, and eating difficulties can be just as problematic, albeit less visible to outsiders.
People who have a cocaine abuse problem have difficulty monitoring or controlling how much they use and often still use it even when faced with negative life consequences. Additionally, many cocaine abusers are polydrug users, meaning they use cocaine along with multiple other drugs, increasing the risk for overdose, multiple addictions, and other adverse health complications.
Considering this, being able to recognize cocaine addiction signs can help a person receive treatment right away.
How Cocaine Is Used
In cocaine’s free-base form (most often referred to as crack), the drug is catered to lower-income communities. Crack is a smokable form of cocaine that is processed with baking soda, ammonia, and water and then heated to remove the hydrochloride. This form of cocaine gets the name crack because of the sound it makes when being smoked.
Smoking crack is often a preferred way to get high for many because of the speed with which it begins taking effect and the low cost compared to cocaine. It reportedly reaches the brain in just eight seconds after smoking it. However, the effects of both forms are identical upon reaching the bloodstream. It’s like the difference between taking a shot of vodka and drinking a glass of wine. Both will get you intoxicated. One just works faster.
While the intense and nearly immediate rush of crack is easy to abuse and binge on, it has been found that approximately 80% of those who have tried crack in their lives have not done so in the past year. Most people who have ever tried crack have not done so more than once.
Moreover, when it comes to cocaine and/or crack, the line between recreational use and problematic abuse is extremely blurry and very easy to cross without even realizing it. The fact that many abusers are able to function in school, work, and everyday life provides a false sense of security.
As a result of repeated use, the brain begins to adapt, and it becomes more and more difficult for it to process reward and pleasure. Tolerance to the drug also develops, requiring users to binge to achieve desired levels of euphoria. If cocaine abuse continues, users will have difficulty experiencing joy without the use of the drug. Additionally, people who are chronic abusers of cocaine often lose the desire to eat any food, leaving them malnourished and looking frail and gaunt.
Once addiction has taken hold, there is an incredibly high chance of relapse, even after extended periods of abstinence. Several studies have shown that memories of cocaine use and the experiences surrounding it can trigger extreme cravings following exposure to specific cues associated with the drug use. The changes in the brain make users highly vulnerable to relapse.
Cocaine Abuse Symptoms
It is derived from the leaf of the Erythroxylum coca bush in South America, which has been chewed and ingested by natives for thousands of years. Scientists isolated the drug in the mid-17th century and used it for anesthetic purposes based on its numbing effects. It is currently classified as a Schedule II drug in the U.S., meaning it has a high potential for abuse, but may be administered by a doctor for medicinal purposes.
However, nowadays, cocaine is more commonly used for recreational purposes. When used outside of a medical setting, the drug can lead to a euphoric high that quickly becomes addictive. As a result of long-term use, users will develop a cocaine use disorder that can greatly impact their physical and mental health, relationships, finances, career, and more.
Common signs of cocaine addiction include:
- Chest pain
- Chronically hoarse voice
- Collapse of nostrils
- Constant scratching or complaints of itching
- Dilated pupils
- Exhaustion or difficulty functioning during day-to-day activities
- Higher body temperature and blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sense of smell
- Manic behavior
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Repeated nosebleeds
- Severe paranoia
- Trouble breathing
Withdrawal symptoms are also common signs of cocaine abuse. They may include intense cravings for cocaine, depression, suicidal thoughts, irritability, and fever. The severity and longevity of these symptoms vary depending on how long and heavily the person has been using cocaine.
These withdrawal symptoms, as well as cocaine addiction signs, may also vary depending on the form of administration or use. For instance, those who snort cocaine may experience frequent runny nose and nose bleeds, as well as perforated septums and deteriorated cartilage in the nose. If someone you know is battling a cocaine addiction and needs help taking that first step, our cocaine detox program can help them safely withdraw and get clean.
Get Help for Cocaine Addiction Today
Long-term cocaine use can lead to permanent physical and psychological damage. Because the drug targets dopamine and other chemicals in the brain, it’s difficult for users to suddenly quit without professional guidance and support. The drug is also highly addictive, making quitting all the more difficult.
Fortunately, our Lake Worth drug rehab can help. If you notice any signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse in yourself or a loved one, our cocaine addiction treatment provides medical detox, round-the-clock support, therapy, aftercare services, and more to aid in clients’ recovery.
- CDC – Drug Overdose