Symptoms of Cocaine Use and Addiction
What will you notice if a person is abusing or addicted to cocaine?
Paraphernalia Finds and Physical Symptoms
If the person is snorting cocaine, he may lose his sense of smell, may get frequent nosebleeds, be hoarse and have a constantly running nose. He may also develop problems swallowing.
Around a person using powder cocaine, you may find small mirrors, razor blades, straws or rolled money that were used for snorting. If the person is injecting the drug, there may be syringes, needles, surgical tubing to cause the veins to enlarge and spoons with residue.
Since crack cocaine is smoked, you could find small glass pipes or smoking apparatus made from beer or soda cans. The drug is often sold in tiny vials or baggies so you may find these left behind.
Physical Effects While Using
A person high on cocaine will typically act more alert, energetic and confident than usual. He or she may be talkative and euphoric. You may see dilated pupils, a runny nose, fast reflexes. She may be breathing faster than usual, feel warm or sweaty or mention feeling warmer than others in the room, and eat little or none. He may manifest lower inhibitions.
Since a cocaine high from a snorted dose only lasts about 20 minutes, he or she may disappear from time to time to take more cocaine. If the person does not take more, they may manifest irritability, cravings and depression.
A person smoking crack cocaine will manifest a fast but brief period of extreme euphoria, alertness and energy. But this may last only a few minutes, driving the person to smoke more crack. The crack abuser may also try to soften the letdown by also abusing alcohol, opioids or other drugs.
A person who has been on a cocaine "binge" may manifest restlessness, anxiety and irritability. At its worst, this can manifest as paranoia and a psychotic episode in which the person loses his or her grasp of reality and may experience hallucinations, particularly imagined noises. A person on cocaine may also manifest violence or suicidal or homicidal tendencies. Crack cocaine users are more subject to these extreme symptoms.
Since cocaine is a stimulant, it creates stress on many organs. Blood pressure and temperature tend to go up. It is possible for a cocaine user to suffer a heart attack or stroke, even the first time the drug is used. Or cardiac arrest may occur or the person may experience a seizure followed by respiratory arrest.
Physical Effects after Chronic Use or During Addiction
After repeated, frequent use, a person is likely to build up a tolerance which means the body adjusts to the presence of the cocaine. But this also means that the person will need more of the drug to get a similar effect to the smaller doses he used to take. When frequent cocaine use becomes addiction, when she tries to stop using cocaine, she will manifest withdrawal symptoms. She will also experience strong cravings if she tries to quit which is unfortunately likely to drive her back to cocaine use even if she really wants to quit.
A person chronically using cocaine can experience headaches and get stomach problems. Because cocaine constricts the blood vessels, this can cause gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and stomach pain. When cocaine is ingested, this constriction can lead to gangrene in the intestinal tract.
- Ref: NIH: Cocaine Facts
- Ref: http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/abuse/drug_data_sheets/Cocaine.pdf (DEA: Cocaine Fact Sheet)
Because cocaine withdrawal symptoms include very strong cravings and may include deep depression and suicidal thoughts, they can be difficult to manage without professional care.
A person coming off cocaine use may be fatigued, agitated, restless and slow-moving. In addition to depression, he or she may feel a vague and general sense of illness. He may suffer unpleasant dreams.
When the person has been a daily user for a long time, these symptoms can last for months unless the person gets the support of an effective drug rehabilitation program.
As part of the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, those recovering from cocaine addiction are provided with nutritional support that helps alleviate some of the depression and other mental effects of cocaine addiction. One-on-one work with staff that continues through the person's waking hours helps reduce the mental unease experienced. Gentle re-orientation exercises and physical assists relax the agitation and irritability and assists in a focus on the present and recovery.
Without the use of any antidepressants or other drugs, even a person who has been using cocaine frequently and over a long duration can recover. The Narconon drug rehab program has components that address and remedy the residual toxicity of the body, the lost self-esteem and personal values and the guilt that plagues addicts as they begin to realize what they have been doing to themselves and others. With help for all these points of damage, a person who was formerly a cocaine addict can truly find long-lasting recovery.