10 Common Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction
A potent stimulant drug, cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca plant. The coca plant grows natively in South America. Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, and it can be used as a white powder, typically snorted or processed into a crystalline form known as crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is smoked.
Using cocaine causes temporary feelings of euphoria, alertness, and a rush of energy. It’s also a very addictive, dangerous drug. In the short term, consequences of cocaine use can include a raised heart rate and blood pressure. Long-term use can lead to addiction, heart problems, and a slew of other health issues.
Brain and Body Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine interrupts the normal function of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells. Particular effects of cocaine on the brain and body include:
- The release of dopamine. Cocaine primarily works by blocking the reuptake of neurotransmitters, especially dopamine. Dopamine is our neurotransmitter that’s associated with reward and pleasure. By preventing its reuptake, more of it stays in the brain, concentrated in the synapses, leading to intense pleasure and euphoria.
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate. As a stimulant, cocaine increases the activity of the entire central nervous system, leading to rapid increases in blood pressure and heart rate. This can be dangerous for anyone, and especially for someone with cardiovascular issues.
- Blood vessel constriction. Cocaine causes blood vessels to narrow or constrict, reducing blood flow to different areas of the body. This can cause heart-related complications and even organ damage.
- Impaired motor skills and judgment. The use of cocaine impairs cognitive function, leading to poor judgment and an impairment of motor skills, increasing the risk of accidents and dangerous behaviors.
- Addiction and dependence. Cocaine has a high addiction potential, with continued use leading to changes in the brain’s reward system. Dependence can also develop, leading to withdrawal symptoms and cravings when not using the drug.
- Mood disturbances. Once the initial euphoric high subsides, cocaine can lead to adverse mood effects like anxiety, paranoia, and irritability, contributing to a cycle of repeated use.
- Overdose risks. Taking too much cocaine can lead to an overdose, which can result in cardiac arrest, seizures, and death.
How Does Cocaine Addiction Happen?
Cocaine addiction develops as a complex relationship of biological, social, and psychological factors. When someone uses the stimulant, it affects their brain’s reward system by increasing dopamine levels. Dopamine, since it’s related to pleasure and reward, contributes to the reinforcing effects of continued cocaine use. There can also be a tolerance that forms with ongoing cocaine use, where increasing amounts are needed to get the desired effects.
People with co-occurring mental health disorders or challenging life situations may be more vulnerable to cocaine addiction because it can be a way to cope or escape emotional pain.
There’s also evidence to show that genetics and environment can influence addiction vulnerability. Some people may be more genetically predisposed to develop substance use disorders, and environmental factors like peers or family members who use substances can raise the risk of cocaine addiction.
Physical Signs of Cocaine Misuse
There can be physical, outwardly apparent signs that someone is using cocaine, regardless of whether or not they have a diagnosable addiction. Cocaine abuse can lead to physical symptoms that include:
- Enlarged or dilated pupils are caused by the impact of cocaine on the nervous system.
- Increased alertness, energy, and restlessness.
- Nasal issues when cocaine is snorted. It can cause irritation and damage to nasal passages, with symptoms including a runny or congested nose, problems with sense of smell, and nosebleeds.
- Chronic cocaine use suppresses the appetite of the user, leading to weight loss.
- Cocaine abuse can contribute to dental problems like tooth damage and decay. This is mainly due to the reduced blood flow to the oral tissues that occurs with cocaine use.
- Skin effects from cocaine abuse can include infections or rashes.
- Users may experience muscle tension or tremors, and the tension can be especially seen in the jaw.
- Hyperactivity can be an outward sign of cocaine use, causing someone to fidget or move constantly.
- Cocaine disrupts standard sleep patterns, leading to insomnia that contributes to fatigue.
10 Signs of Cocaine Addiction
It’s possible to abuse cocaine and not be addicted. Addiction is a diagnosable disease based on a set of specific criteria. The following are some of the requirements and signs of cocaine addiction.
1. Increased Tolerance
Individuals who are addicted to cocaine might develop a tolerance, requiring higher doses, leading to escalating drug use over time.
Intense cravings to use cocaine that are difficult, if not impossible, to resist are a hallmark sign of addiction.
3. Social Isolation
When someone’s struggling with addiction, they might withdraw from social activities and relationships. An individual with an addiction disorder might isolate themselves because they want to hide their substance use or because they’re only focused on getting and using cocaine.
4. Neglecting Responsibilities
Someone struggling with addiction will start to neglect their responsibilities at home, work or school, leading to declining performance and increased problems personally and professionally.
5. Financial Issues
Cocaine is expensive, and people with addictions often experience financial issues and difficulties because they prioritize spending on drugs.
6. Behavioral Changes
Observable behavior changes like mood swings, impulsivity, and irritability can be outward indicators of cocaine addiction. Other changes in behavior could include defensiveness or a sense of secrecy.
7. Physical Signs
We touched on the physical signs of cocaine use above, such as dilated pupils and weight loss.
8. Risky Behaviors
Someone with an addiction might engage in dangerous behaviors while they’re under the influence or to obtain the drug. This could include being involved in criminal activities, driving under the influence, or risky sexual behaviors.
9. Failure to Quit or Cutback
Even when there are adverse effects resulting from cocaine use, with addiction, there are often many unsuccessful attempts to stop using the drug.
10. Withdrawal Symptoms
When someone isn’t using cocaine, they might have withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, depression, or an increased appetite.
Getting Help for Cocaine Addiction
Here at Midwest Recovery, we focus on multi-phasal recovery. Multi-phasal recovery is uniquely suited to help treat cocaine addiction recovery because it provides users with a customizable treatment experience that matches their current level of addiction, as well as their goals for recovery and sobriety.
Our multi-phasal program consists of three phases of treatment. Multi-phasal recovery begins with Detox & Residential, which includes a medically supervised detox along with 56 hours per week of clinical services offering a wide range of therapeutic modalities. Phase I, which consists of intensive therapy and 12-step meetings, transitions into Phase II, which can include up to nine months of continual structured housing, treatment, and assistance in returning to regular commitments.
These three phases complement each other and help clients successfully transition back into their daily lives, commitments, careers, family members, and friends.
Cocaine addiction can be challenging to overcome, but we are ready, willing, and available to help. Contact us today if you’d like to explore what your life could look like, free from cocaine addiction. Our recovery experts are passionate, caring, and committed.