Cocaine is classed as a stimulant and according to cocaine addiction centers, its abuse is a considerable problem for thousands of Americans. Cocaine is often referred to as a “party drug” as it gives people a huge rush of confidence that puts them in the spotlight in social settings. However, the high cocaine creates is short-lived and the down is extreme, which are both factors behind the drug’s incredible potency which makes it one of the most addictive substances on the planet.

It is not uncommon for someone who is struggling with cocaine to keep their issues to themselves. For this reason, it is very helpful to know what the warning signs are that a friend or loved one is abusing cocaine. The sooner a person accepts they have an issue and reaches out to a cocaine addiction center for treatment, the more likelihood there is of a long-term recovery. In this article we take a look at some of the more common signs a person is abusing cocaine.

Common signs of cocaine abuse include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Loss of appetite and consequent weight loss
  • Profuse sweating

The Dangers of Cocaine Abuse

Individuals who abuse cocaine face some very negative consequences, the most obvious of which is fatal overdose. However, there are other short-term and long-term health issues that can result from cocaine abuse. For example, people using cocaine expose themselves to the dangers of increased blood pressure. This risk is heightened if they are engaged in physical activity while using cocaine as the combination of exertion and cocaine abuse can lead to cardiac arrest or stroke.

An unknown danger for cocaine users that can strike when they first use the drug, or any time thereafter is contamination. Many “manufacturers” and dealers of cocaine will mix the white powder with other substances to increase their profit margin. Other white powders such as baking soda, talcum powder or even detergent are “cut” into pure cocaine which considerably increases the risks to users.

How People Become Addicted to Cocaine

The most obvious long-term side effect of cocaine abuse is addiction. Addiction is a relapsing illness that takes some time to develop and naturally, time to recover from also. A person is generally on a path to becoming addicted to cocaine if they find themselves using to prevent the sometimes-chronic symptoms associated with the “come down”.

Although the high of cocaine is exaggerated and intense, it only lasts anything from 5 minutes to half an hour. When the drug starts to wear off, users are plunged into a powerful depression that is characterized by the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Poor concentration
  • Slowed thinking
  • Reduced physical activity and increased fatigue after
  • Unexplained exhaustion
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Reduced sexual arousal
  • Increased appetite
  • Chills, tremors, muscle aches and nerve pain
  • Heightened cravings for cocaine
  • Depression and anxiety

Long-term Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Apart from the risk of developing addiction, there are other adverse effects of cocaine abuse on a person’s health including the following:

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Aggression and possible violence
  • Panic attacks
  • Malnourishment
  • Damaged blood vessels
  • Kidney damage
  • Lung damage
  • Psychosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiac arrest and stroke

Recognizing a Stimulant Addiction

When a person is frequently abusing cocaine, they are at very high risk of developing addiction. It is not uncommon for the person abusing cocaine not to be aware of the deeper issues that are forming as a result.

Medical professionals and addiction specialists view addiction as a chronic, relapsing illness. When diagnosing cocaine addiction, there are certain clinical criteria that have to be met including:

  • A need to use increasingly larger amounts of cocaine to get the desired effects
  • Withdrawal symptoms emerge when the individual is not using cocaine
  • The individual is likely to have made several unsuccessful attempts to quit on their own
  • They will continue to use cocaine even though their lives are falling apart as a result

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

It is not unusual for a person struggling with cocaine abuse not to be unaware they have a problem. This may be due to the fear that they are not in fact in control of their cocaine use as they have led themselves to believe. In a high percentage of cases where individuals have taken the important step of entering a cocaine addiction center, it is as a result of the intervention of family and friends.

The first step of all programs at cocaine addiction centers is detox. It is essential to cleanse the body of all the toxins that have accumulated as a result of cocaine abuse as they can continue to influence a person for some time after detox is completed. Withdrawal symptoms can start to emerge within hours of abstaining from cocaine use, with some effects continuing to develop over the next few days of detox.

Due to the potency of cocaine, it is always recommended to enter an inpatient or residential detox program where supervision is offered. It is impossible to predict the severity of withdrawal as symptoms vary according to a person’s history of cocaine abuse in combination with other factors such as genetics and physical health. For these reasons, having qualified professionals on-hand throughout detox often makes the difference between success and failure to stop using cocaine.

Holistic treatments are often used in cocaine rehab centers in combination with evidence-based therapies like CBT to address the underlying issues driving addictive behaviors. Many people start using cocaine as a kind of social prop to enable them to have a bigger personality than they perceive themselves to have. Holistic treatments like meditation and yoga are extremely effective in addressing the underlying issues driving addiction, which has made holistic cocaine rehab centers an increasingly popular choice.