First and Foremost: What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is classified as a stimulant, and is one of the few non-synthetic drugs still widely abused in the US. Manufacturers refine the chemical cocaine hydrochloride found in the coca plant to create cocaine. In its “pure” form, cocaine looks like a fine, white powder. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or taken orally. While the drug maintains a notorious status as an illegal substance, doctors sometimes prescribe cocaine for local anesthesia in surgeries. The drug can cause a wide variety of short and long-term physical and mental effects. However, if you think someone you know may be abusing it, there are several signs of cocaine use to look out for.
How Does Cocaine Affect People?
A euphoric rush is the driving factor that usually leads people to abuse cocaine. Inside the body, cocaine stops the brain from absorbing dopamine, causing a surplus. This surplus causes the euphoric “high” attributed to cocaine. Physical manifestations of cocaine include an increased heart rate, increased breathing due to a higher demand for oxygen, and cool/clammy skin. Blood clotting, a rise in body temperature, tremors, and the inability to sweat can also occur. Less obvious, and sometimes psychological effects of cocaine can also present themselves. These include:
- Intense thirst
- Chest pain
- Blurred vision
- Paranoia, vertigo
- Various forms of psychosis
Long-term use of cocaine can also have devastating effects on both body and mind, from damaged nasal tissue from snorting, to an increase in heart complications. Smoking crack cocaine can lead to similar complications for the lungs, such as cancer or a weaker immune system. Psychological complications can also develop. The brains of regular cocaine users brains eventually learn to expect the drug, and they develop a dependence on it. As an individual becomes addicted to cocaine, they need more of the drug to sustain the same feeling, and their focus fades from anything besides getting more of the drug. This can cause every part of their physical, personal, and work life to gradually deteriorate. It also increases the chances of a fatal overdose.
What Are the Signs of Cocaine Use and Abuse?
As cocaine users become more and more dependent on the drug, it follows that their relationships can deteriorate. Problems with their work life and finances may also manifest. When a person becomes so addicted to cocaine that a main goal in life is obtaining more of the drug, it leaves little time for anything else, whether that be a marriage, a relationship, or a job. Everyone around a person suffering from addiction also experiences repercussions of that person’s addiction.
Sometimes that effect can be severe. The children of someone with a cocaine use disorder, for instance, can be seriously negatively affected on a number of fronts. Developing embryos in a pregnant mother can be dangerously affected by cocaine use, including premature birth, spontaneous miscarriage, high blood pressure, or difficult delivery. Surprisingly, even a father’s cocaine use can negatively impact a developing fetus. A study found that male offspring of rats whose fathers had been given cocaine exhibited severe memory loss issues as well as learning disabilities. Granted, this study was conducted on rats, but the genetic makeup of rats and effects of cocaine on rats is strikingly similar to that of humans. With that in mind, there is a significant chance that the same effects can manifest in humans.
The impact of a cocaine addiction affects more than just children and family life, though. Employers are less likely to hire an individual who has a record of addiction, making it difficult to maintain a steady income. One article explores how people who suffer from addiction often have a lack of interpersonal skills, pointing out how an addiction damages one’s social potential. These factors can all put strain on a person suffering from addiction, as well as strain on the people around them.
How Can I Tell If A Loved One Is Using Cocaine?
Cocaine abuse hurts more than just the person using it. Not only can it destroy someone’s health and relationships, it can take a toll on everyone in their life. If you notice signs of cocaine use in someone you know, it is important to try to help them find a path to recovery. Here are some of the most prominent clues that a person may be abusing cocaine:
Extreme mood swings manifest when a person’s cocaine high disappears. effect of cocaine will have an individual expressing positive, high energy movements and communication. Then, as the drug wears off, those characteristics will abruptly stop or even reverse.
These stem as a result of a severe addiction. When a person becomes so invested in cocaine that nothing else matters, they can quickly begin struggling to properly manage their money.
Anxiety, Paranoia, or Psychosis
Mental health problems all stem directly from cocaine’s effect on the brain. Since the drug interferes with the user’s psychology, mental health problems like paranoia, anxiety, or other types of psychosis can develop.
Exhibiting Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Symptoms can manifest very quickly, especially in a person who has developed a strong dependence on the drug. Physical symptoms of a cocaine withdrawal may not be obvious. However, fatigue, muscle spasms, lack of pleasure, irritability, and sleepiness are all common psychological symptoms.
What Should I Do if I Notice Signs of Cocaine Use?
If you see clues that someone in your life may be abusing cocaine, it makes sense to be concerned. The repercussions of a cocaine addiction are serious, and have a large sphere of influence. Getting help is the first step back to sobriety. Overcoming addiction is difficult, and getting back on track is tough, but doesn’t need to be faced alone. If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction, contact us today so our professional and compassionate team can help you heal and recover – for life.