Cocaine addiction has undoubtedly spoiled millions of lives all around the world. It is an extremely addictive drug that has the potential to change the chemical makeup of an individual’s brain if used regularly, thereby making it very difficult to quit this drug without any medical help if you are hooked to it. Regular cocaine use can increase tolerance to this drug, and higher doses are required as time passes.
A person who abuses cocaine gets so hooked to it that he spends most of his time in obtaining this drug, using it, and eventually recovering from its effects ignoring crucial day-to-day duties like familial obligations, schoolwork or workplace responsibilities. A cocaine addict’s life gets effected in a number of ways and making him physically and mentally weak. Let’s get to know about the common signs and side effects of Cocaine addiction.
Table of Contents
- Cocaine Addiction Statistics
- How Does Cocaine Work in Our Body?
- Effects and Classic signs of Cocaine Addiction
- Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction
- Side Effects of Long-Term Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine Addiction Statistics
Around 14 % of all the American citizens aged 12 and above have used cocaine once or more than once, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) . Cocaine abuse results in maximum number of the emergency department visits that are associated with illegal drug abuse or misuse accounting for a staggering 40.3 %, according to the reports by the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). There was a massive 29 % increase in the cocaine overdose deaths between the year 2001 and 2013. Around 5,000 people died due to cocaine overdose in 2013, as per NIDA reports. 
Cocaine is classified as a Schedule II drug in the U.S. by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) partly due to it being potentially very addictive. 
Cocaine works as a central nervous system stimulant that boosts energy levels and helps people stay awake while simultaneously raising their heart rate and blood pressure. Cocaine makes people feel extremely good by increasing the levels of dopamine, one of the primary chemical messengers that enhances the feelings of happiness. Generally speaking, there are 2 main types of cocaine: powdered form that can be easily injected, snorted or smoked, and a rock form known as crack cocaine that is usually smoked, but sometimes is placed into the body orifices.
How Does Cocaine Work in Our Body?
Cocaine produces effects very quickly, but has a short half-life. Thus, the high people get from cocaine is very quick but usually short-lived, lasting from just 5 to 30 minutes. This majorly depends on how the drug was used and how rapidly it got absorbed into the bloodstream. Smoking cocaine is one of the most common methods of ingestion, as 72 % of all the admissions to the concerning treatment centers involve abuse of crack cocaine. 
Cocaine gives you that “high” by effectively blocking dopamine from getting recycled, therefore synthetically increasing the activity of this “feel good” chemical neurotransmitter. Users might become overly talkative, excited, have reduced inhibitions and very high confidence levels, have reduced appetites or feel increased need for sleep when they are under the “high” given by cocaine. After this cocaine high is over, there is generally a crash period where the drug abuser might eat or sleep more than normal during this phase.
Effects and Classic Signs of Cocaine Addiction
The initial signs of cocaine abuse might be minor as compared to more dangerous cocaine addiction signs. The psychological and physical symptoms escalate along with various behavioral signs and eventual consequences. Making your loved one become free from cocaine abuse is rather easier only in the initial stages; once this addiction takes over someone, reversing this habit may take few months or even years. Few basic signs that indicate cocaine abuse are:
- Strange or unusual behavior
- Keeping things secret or replying in a suspicious manner to the questions
- Leaving home early, coming back late, or missing the usual obligations completely
- Increased impulsiveness or self-confidence
- Financial issues
- White tinged stains on belongings, clothes or skin
Cocaine is rather expensive. In order to continue abusing cocaine, many people go to the extreme lengths to manage their next bump. This might involve repeatedly asking for more money, stealing money from friends or family, doing part time jobs, getting loans, selling possessions, or selling drugs themselves. Someone who is addicted to cocaine might empty their life savings or retirement funds to feed their addiction. As the habit progresses, it may result in various life-altering repercussions that must be considered red flags and require immediate attention. These may include:
- Quitting school or being kicked out from there
- Resigning or getting fired from job
- Bankruptcy or being in a serious debt
- Lost relationships and friendships
- Getting in a legal trouble
Additionally, cocaine addiction might also result in physical or mental harm that may make the person visit emergency room. Cocaine may have enormous health implications on a person’s overall well-being. The following symptoms might also be experienced:
- Feelings of paranoia
- Emotional mood swings
- Insomnia or prolonged durations of sleep
- Reduced attention span
- Hyperstimulation and increased energy levels
- Bouts of elevated mood and feelings of euphoria
- Lethargy, laziness and becoming introvert
- Irritability or crankiness
- Reduced appetite
A common symptom among people who regularly misuse cocaine is their unpredictable mood swings, due to inevitable chemical imbalance. Your loved one who has developed a cocaine addiction may become really distant and unrecognizable from the person you knew him or her to be. This may make it increasingly difficult to notice the minute details or confront them given the situation. The more of these signs pile up, the more unavoidable this issue becomes.
Few other signs that a person might be abusing cocaine are:
- White powdered residue left around their nose and mouth
- Needle marks through injections of drug
- Burn marks on lips and hands
- Drug paraphernalia found with them (such as pipes, syringes, razor blades, spoons, small plastic baggies etc.)
- Drastic changes in their sleeping and eating schedules
- Unexplained or unintentional weight loss
- Mood swings
- Increased indulgence in risk-taking behaviors
- Habitual sexual encounters
- Dilated pupils which may become more sensitive to light
- Runny nose or experiencing regular nosebleed episodes
- Becoming careless about personal appearance and/or personal hygiene
- Financial issues
- Social isolation or introversion
Physical and Psychological Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction:
Since cocaine exits the body rapidly, some people might abuse cocaine in a binge manner, taking multiple doses one after the other. This may result in both physical and psychological drug dependence as compared to the other methods of taking this drug.
At times, cocaine users might ingest higher doses all at once, that may lead to irritability, hostility, anger and unexplained violent outbursts. Long term cocaine users might often experience negative health effects when ingesting the drug itself. Paranoia, anger, anxiety and hallucinations might indicate cocaine abuse in a person who has long abused this drug.
The following physical and psychological symptoms indicate cocaine abuse.
- Constantly running nose
- Frequent episodes of nosebleeds
- Dilated pupils
- Unusual levels of excitement
- Over confidence
- Increased violence and aggression
Symptoms that indicate cocaine binging may include:
- Agitated or violent behavior
- Apathetic attitude
- Excessive sleeping or eating
Side Effects of Long-Term Cocaine Addiction
Long term health effects of cocaine are literally drastic . Cocaine abusers often experience increase in drug tolerance, that means they need to ingest more drug to feel the similar effects. Several long-term psychological effects are also extremely common, ranging from crankiness, irritability and even psychosis in some cases. In certain cases, an abuser may completely lose out on reality and even may start experiencing hallucinations.
Long term physical effects due to cocaine abuse usually vary, depending primarily on the consumption method. Cocaine usually is available in form of a very fine white powder, and the common ingestion method is by snorting it through your nose. Snorting cocaine usually results in various effects including the drug quickly after its ingestion, but with time, it may result in various issues, like
- reduction in sense of smell, and
- difficulty in swallowing
Crack, which is another popular form of cocaine, is usually available in the form of a crystal rock, and is generally smoked. This may cause damage to your lungs. Taking this drug intravenously may increase your risk of contracting various diseases that are commonly linked with sharing needles, like
- Hepatitis C
- Internal damage might also occur due to long term cocaine use.
- Damages in the gastrointestinal tract may occur due to lack of blood flow
- Heart tissues may become ruptured or inflamed
Human brain is rather susceptible to adverse effects of cocaine. Expansion of the cerebral blood vessels and bleeding are among the common neurological issues that occur due to long term cocaine abuse.
- Parkinson’s disease, a health condition that significantly affects body movements and may cause tremors, is one major health implications due to prolonged cocaine use.
With time, cocaine addiction may also cause negative health effects on basic brain functioning, such as difficulties in decision-making, memory loss, and reduced motor functions.
It can be said that long term users might at times survive the cocaine abuse without dying, but other major health problems would definitely crop up.
Cocaine addiction can be really dangerous for your health and overall wellbeing. If you or your loved one is addicted to cocaine, there are several ways out with immediate medical intervention. Recovery or breaking free from cocaine may take a longer time, so you might require an ongoing treatment. Few people who are under the recovery process may relapse and abuse again. If you relapse, don’t think that you have failed. This is just a phase in the recovery process, and your recovery may become easier.
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