Signs of Cocaine Use
Cocaine use in the United States has remained relatively stable over the last decade, with slight ups and downs every few years. Currently the amount of people in the United States ages 12 and older who used cocaine in the past month rests somewhere around 1.5 million. As a standalone number this sounds large, but compared to the entire population of the United States, it is less than 1% of the total population.
Cocaine is seen as a luxury drug and is one of the most expensive illicit drugs available.
It is seen as a high-status symbol, popular among celebrities, musicians, models, and Wall Street moguls. Maintaining a cocaine addiction is incredibly expensive and has the potential to lead to major money complications if money is not readily available.
Cocaine side effects include the ability to drink larger amounts for longer periods of time. Cocaine use also allows you to stay up longer and keeps you awake and able to party for an extended time. Cocaine is popular in clubs and bars, especially in areas like Vegas and New York City. When looking at entire states, cocaine use is most prevalent in New Hampshire and Colorado.
In 2009, cocaine was present in 422,896 emergency room visits in the United States.
Compared to the almost one million total emergency room visits involving illicit drugs, cocaine was present in about half of them. This shows that cocaine has the potential to be an incredibly dangerous drug, especially when used in combination with other drugs.
Are you worried a loved one may be using cocaine? Have you been looking to find out what the side effects of coke are? How do you know what to look for? Are there signs you should be seeing? Find out more about the symptoms of cocaine use.
What does cocaine do?
Cocaine is a luxury drug, wildly expensive wherever you are located. This fact makes it a difficult and pricey addiction to maintain, especially when use is heavy. Cocaine provides a relatively short-lived high for the price, lasting usually around half an hour before it is necessary to take another "bump" to maintain the high.
"Cocaine nose" is a popular term among those with cocaine addiction who snort the drug, referencing the numbness and tingling sensations in the nasal passages after snorting a line. Although cocaine nose is favorable by many coke addicts, others dislike the tingling feeling left behind by the white powder. Cocaine can also be smoked.
But what does cocaine do? One of the main reasons cocaine is used is to stay awake. It helps you drink for larger amounts for longer and can keep you going when sleepiness begins to catch up to you. This makes it popular in party areas such as New York City bars and clubs, where you can find plenty of people with a cocaine addiction.
Additionally, cocaine makes you feel as though you're "on top of the world". Cocaine has ego-boosting properties that make you feel invincible, which, when coupled with drinking, can create a dangerous concoction of inflated sense of self.
Truly, for the price you pay, coke is an extremely short-lived high. This contributes to the popularity of drugs like meth which have similar properties of keeping you awake while also lasting much longer.
What are the side effects of cocaine use/effects of cocaine before and after?
Since cocaine is a stimulant, there are noticeable symptoms of cocaine use. It is easy to notice the side effects of coke in an individual who is currently high, or even in one who was coked out the night before. Effects of cocaine after use and cocaine addiction include:
- Agitation or anxiety
- Increased enthusiasm or exuberance
- Lack of inhibition/overconfidence
- Restlessness or hyperactivity
- Runny or itchy nose ("coke nose")
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulties focusing or concentrating
You can notice the symptoms of cocaine use immediately, the cocaine effects after. Usually the user is incredibly fidgety or restless and often talk for long periods of time about nothing in particular. They are extremely distracted and their attention tends to shift from one topic to another with no sign of why.
You can also see the side effects of cocaine use the following day or the effects of cocaine before the next high. These are often referred to as "coke hangovers". When coupled with alcohol the night before, the comedown and hangover after a night of cocaine and drinking can be brutal. Effects of cocaine the following day include:
- Poor sleep or sleeplessness
- Pounding headache
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Irritability and agitation
- Irregular heartbeat
- Painful nose
- Little to no appetite
Symptoms of cocaine hangover or the effects of cocaine before the next fix look somewhat like the person has a cold and they may still have a residual runny nose from the night before. Coke hangovers can be extremely painful and difficult to deal with throughout the day.
If you notice any of these signs of drug use in your loved one there is a chance they may be using cocaine or have a cocaine addiction. However, if you notice symptoms of cocaine use, what are you supposed to do? How do you know when cocaine is a problem and not simply a one-night thing?
If you notice that your loved one exhibits these signs of drug use often (i.e. multiple times a week or every day), this could be a sign of problem use or cocaine addiction. Drug addicts in general also become withdrawn from loved ones when their use becomes bad, so the effects of cocaine may cause a once outgoing person to become withdrawn and antisocial.
Since cocaine is so expensive, excessive money problems may also be a sign of cocaine addiction or other drug use. If they often ask to borrow money or already owe you a lot there may be something going on. Keep an eye on your loved one for the signs of cocaine use or cocaine hangover. Keep an open channel of communication if possible so you may approach them if you feel there is something going on.
How can you support someone with a cocaine addiction?
If you think your loved one is showing signs of cocaine use or cocaine addiction, the best thing to do is talk to them. If you have open communication with this loved one it makes the conversation slightly easier to have, but addressing signs of drug use is never simple. It must be brought up when the user is sober if possible and in neutral territory where they will not feel attacked. Drug addicts tend to have a victim mentality and oftentimes perceive caring concern as an attack on them as a person.
If you plan to have an intervention, it may be a good idea to have a neutral third party such as a certified drug and alcohol counselor or a therapist who specializes in addiction.
The best option for a neutral third party, though, is an intervention specialist. Bring only the people who need to be there, such as immediate family members and extremely close friends. If their symptoms of cocaine use or cocaine addiction is bad enough, treatment may be necessary. Educating yourself on the various types of addiction treatments available will help you provide information when your loved one is ready to go to treatment. There are different levels of care for different severities of addictions, such as:
- Inpatient rehab
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Drug and alcohol counseling
- Sober living
By finding out more about the treatment options available for drug addicts, you can provide your loved one with the information they need to receive treatment. Treatment is not always necessary for everyone, but if your loved one is living with a cocaine addiction it is highly suggested. Treatment will teach them not only how to get and stay sober but also how to become a productive member of society.
When people are addicted to drugs you can see signs of drug use because they often withdraw from those around them. By keeping yourself available for your loved one while still maintaining healthy boundaries, you may be able to help them in the future. Do your best to keep open channels of communication with a loved one about whom you are worried may have a cocaine addiction.
What are the dangers of coke?
There are a wide range of side effects of cocaine use. After using large amounts of cocaine for a long period of time, a cocaine user's brain begins to rewire the neural pleasure pathways. Things that were once a fun time become less enjoyable, especially without the use of cocaine. As with many drug addicts, those with a cocaine addiction develop a tolerance to the drug and need to use more and more of it to achieve the desired effect. Additionally, when cocaine isn't present in the user's system, they may begin to experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
When someone with a cocaine addiction is snorting cocaine, side effects of cocaine use include the nasal passages slowly tear apart and the user is more susceptible to infection. The destruction of nasal passages also leads to nose blockages, nosebleeds, difficulties swallowing, and a general irritation in the nose at all times. If cocaine is smoked, this can lead to lung problems such as asthma.
The stimulating effects of cocaine over time can cause an increased susceptibility to panic attacks, anxiety disorders, or paranoia. In some extreme cases, users may even experience psychosis, during which they lose touch from reality and experience both visual and auditory hallucinations.
Cocaine use leaves users more likely to have strokes or seizures, as well as heart problems. Due to the rewiring of the brain, users may also experience disordered cognitive function such as an inability to focus or pay attention or memory problems.
For sober cocaine addicts, relapse is an inherent danger. As with any drug addict, relapse is always a possibility and the vicious cycle of getting sober begins all over again. It is difficult for addicts to remain clean for long periods of time without the proper support, so any addict in recovery should seek assistance for their disease.
What resources are available for those with a cocaine addiction?
One incredibly popular resource for those with a cocaine addiction is Cocaine Anonymous. Based off of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous focuses its program around the 12 Steps of Cocaine Anonymous. Through working the 12 steps your loved one are granted a daily reprieve and the ability to live life clean and sober, one day at a time.
Cocaine Anonymous provides free meetings throughout the week in locations around the world. You can find a meeting schedule here. One of the greatest things about Cocaine Anonymous is the community of likeminded individuals that your loved one will be surrounded with. Each person in the room struggled with the same cocaine addiction as your loved one, the same effects of cocaine use.
They know the effects of cocaine before and after and how life can be without it. They know how difficult it is to get sober but have found a way to do so and now give it away for free. Using a 12 step program like Cocaine Anonymous provides ongoing support for as long as your loved one feels like attending.
There are also online support groups for both cocaine users specifically and drug addicts in general. If your loved one either does not have a local Cocaine Anonymous meeting or prefers instead to avoid face-to-face meetings, online support groups may be a great option.
SMART Recovery is an alternative to Anonymous programs and bases the focus of recovery on yourself. SMART Recovery believes that individuals know themselves best and can develop the strongest course of action for themselves. The fellowship also uses face-to-face and online meetings to provide support to their members as they navigate through early recovery.
Whichever option your loved one decides to go with, the most important thing is they maintain an active fight against their addiction. Even when in recovery from cocaine addiction and clean and sober, addiction does not go anywhere. The chance of relapse is still high. By taking action and working against their cocaine addiction, your loved one has a chance at recovery that they deserve.