Cocaine use in Washington State – as well as in the United States as a whole – has remained relatively stable over the last decade. There have only been slight ups and downs every few years. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that around 1.5 million people ages 12 and older have used cocaine in the last month. That sounds like a very large number, but it represents less than 1% of the population in our country.
Cocaine is often labeled 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 financial complications if money is not readily available.
People choose this as their drug of choice for several reasons, including the ability to drink larger amounts of alcohol 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. It's 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, this drug was present in about half of them. This shows that it 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.
One of the draws for the average person to turn to cocaine as their drug of choice is the link between this drug and many celebrities. Numerous celebrities have been linked to coke use as well as addiction and rehab for the drug. However, it has also led to several deaths in the celebrity world.
One of the most notable drug addictions and deaths was with singer Whitney Houston. She was just 48 years old when she was found in a hotel rom bathtub dead. Cocaine was in her system at the time and partially attributed to the death.
Ike Turner was a rock ‘n roll singer who went to prison for offenses related to drug use. He died from a coke overdose in 2008. It had been a long-term struggle for him.
John Belushi was a famous actor who died at 33 years of age where this drug was a contributing factor. His drug abuse was well-known in Hollywood. In fact, it has been said that he played cocaine chicken at parties. In this game, a line of the drug would be poured out and Belushi and another person would race to see who could snort the most.
Fortunately, not all celebrities have died because of cocaine use. Several have gone into rehab and recovered from the addiction to lead successful lives. Time Allen of Home Improvement is one such success story. He even went to prison for possession before getting his act together. Model Kate Moss was involved in a scandal where photos of her using the drug were published. She later went into rehab to get clean.
Author and director Stephen King battled cocaine addiction early in his career. He has been clean since the 1980s. Steven Tyler who is the lead vocalist for rock band Aerosmith had a heavy addiction to coke. Drew Barrymore became addicted by the time she turned 13. She turned to rehab for help and is one of the few child stars to create a successful career as an adult.
Cocaine hasn't always been illegal. In fact, it was only in the early 1900s that it was made illegal in the US. Before that, people like Thomas Edison, Robert Louis Stevenson and Sigmund Freud used the drug to help them work. However, it cannot be denied that this is a dangerous and often deadly drug, especially when mixed with other substances.
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. It 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 an 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. The drug can also be smoked.
But what does it do? One of the main reasons the drug is used is to stay awake. It helps you drink more alcohol for longer and can keep you going when sleepiness begins to catch up to you. This makes it popular in party cities 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". It has ego-boosting properties that make you feel invincible, which, when coupled with drinking, can create a dangerous concoction with an 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.
Since the drug is a stimulant, there are noticeable symptoms of use. It is easy to recognize 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 signs of addiction include:
You can notice the symptoms of cocaine use immediately or the effects after. Usually the user is incredibly fidgety or restless and often talks 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 reason why.
You can also see the side effects of use the following day or the effects 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 the following day include:
Symptoms of cocaine hangover or the effects 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 this drug or have an addiction. However, if you notice symptoms of drug use, what are you supposed to do? How do you know when it 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 drug addiction. Drug addicts in general also become withdrawn from loved ones when their use becomes bad, so the effects 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 addiction or drug use. If they often ask to borrow money or already owe you, there may be something going on. Keep an eye on your loved one for the signs of cocaine use or hangover. Keep an open channel of communication if possible so you may approach them if you feel there is something going on.
Not everyone who starts out using coke will exhibit physical symptoms or show changes in their system. However, you may be able to tell through other signs. For instance, they may have a white powdery residue under their nose or on their face. Some users will be meticulous at cleaning their face after use, but you may see the substance on the clothing or around the house.
You can look on bathroom counters or other flat surfaces like a chair. Check under the bed for items that go with drug use. Depending on where you find a white powder, the person may offer excuses such as "It's just powdered sugar". However, if you see it in odd places or in more than one place, you can't blame it on powdered sugar or flour.
A person who is using cocaine regularly often has a constant runny nose. You'll see them rubbing their nose or sniffing when they don't appear to have a cold. If someone starts having unexplained nosebleeds, this is another sign of drug use with coke, especially if it's combined with heroin.
Bloodshot eyes is another indication someone is using cocaine. The eyes may also be watery and red – even more so in the morning because people sleep less when they are using. To hide bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils, the user may wear sunglasses even when they're inside or it's cloudy outside.
Even though the most common method of using cocaine is by snorting, some people will try for a quick fix by diluting the powder in water and injecting it. If this is the case, you may see track marks on the arms. It's also a possible sign of mixing this drug with heroin since its usually injected.
If you don't know much about drug use, especially when it comes to cocaine, you may not know what kinds of things to look for. Here is a list of items that could indicate a person is using if you find it in their home or with their stuff:
If you see multiple items, it's a strong indication the person is using.
A person may show behaviors that are also signs of cocaine use. When the person is high, it often creates a euphoric feeling which may be evidenced by the person laughing more than usual. They may seem more upbeat than what is normal. This mood will only last about a half-hour to two hours before they will come down and be quiet.
If you notice someone leaving the room every 30 minutes or so and continuing the hyper, almost giddy behavior, it's a strong indication they are continuing to use to maintain their high. Often the person will leave the same time as someone else because they are both using.
Cocaine may not be the most commonly abused drug in Washington State, but it is still a problem. The University of Washington’s Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute offers some interesting statistics:
In August of 2019, USA Today reported that more than $1 million worth of cocaine was found hidden in banana boxes. Three Safeway grocery stores were affected. Police officers from the Bellingham police department stated that 51 pounds of the drug were found while they were unloading the bananas.
The workers immediately called the authorities and the drugs were seized. The other stores where drugs were found were in Woodinville and Federal Way.
Sometimes we like to believe that these hard-hitting drugs are scarce within our communities. But this is not an old news story, by any means, and it proves that these drugs are available right in our hometowns.
If you think your loved one is showing signs of cocaine use or 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 use or 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:
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.
There are a wide range of side effects of cocaine use. After using large amounts for a long period of time, a 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 the drug. As with many drug addicts, those with an 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 an addiction is snorting, side effects include the nasal passages slowly tearing apart and the user becomes 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.
One incredibly popular resource for those with a cocaine addiction is Cocaine Anonymous. Based off of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, CA focuses its program around the 12 Steps. 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.
CA provides free meetings throughout the week in locations around the world. You can find a meeting schedule online. One of the greatest things about Cocaine Anonymous is the community of like minded individuals that your loved one will be surrounded with. Each person in the room struggled with the same addiction as your loved one, the same effects of drug 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 CA 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 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.
To get clean from drug use, including coke abuse, you must go through detox. This is a process where the chemical leaves the system and it returns to normal. Detoxing is essential, but it can be complicated and uncomfortable. It's important to know what happens to your body during this process so you can be prepared.
Once you stop using the drug, your body will go into withdrawal. It has developed a tolerance for the drug and will crave it when it's not in the system. Without cocaine, your body has stopped feeling normal. It will show several signs during detox as it adjusts to the lack of coke. These symptoms may not appear all at once, but they will increase over the first few hours and days until your body begins to adjust. You can expect to experience some or all of the following symptoms:
As you can see, cocaine brings numerous psychological effects of withdrawal to detox. For this reason, it's important to not try to do this at home alone. Instead, you should seek a detox facility where you can detox with professional help.
Because cocaine has a short-lived high, withdrawal symptoms start to be noticeable within 90 minutes after the last use. They can last for a week to ten days, depending on how long you've been using and other factors.
Because the drug is so expensive and it provides a short high, it's often mixed with other substances. One of the most common is alcohol. It can also be mixed with other drugs like heroin and ecstasy. It's most often mixed at parties and clubs to help the person continue partying all night long or to relax and have a good time.
The danger of mixing substances is it often allows you to use more, which can lead to an overdose. The two substances can mask the symptoms of each other or intensify the effect. Complications arise when you use more than one substance at a time, and you may not realize what's happening until the situation gets serious.
A person using cocaine and mixing it with other drugs may appear irritable or experience chest pain and difficulty swallowing. Their breathing may slow down and become shallow. When this drug is mixed with alcohol, the person is at a greater risk for seizures and may go into a coma.
Mixing heroin and coke can be even more dangerous. However, it's done so often it even has its own name, "speedballing." One of the reasons the two drugs are mixed is because cocaine helps with withdrawal symptoms for heroin. There are signs of speedballing that you can watch for. Some of the most common signs are as follows:
If not treated quickly, an overdose of these two drugs can lead to renal disease and perforation of the nasal septum. The two drugs work in opposition to each other, which can have a traumatic effect on the body. The mixture also prevents you from realizing how much of the drugs you've used until you experience serious complications.
It's important to realize that a person who mixed cocaine with other drugs may not show the same signs as if they were using coke alone. It is also helpful to be able to tell paramedics or other trained medical staff what substances the person has taken so they know how to treat and what conditions to monitor the person for. If you're with someone who is or has been using cocaine with other drugs, you need to call for emergency medical help immediately. Immediate medical attention is often necessary to save their life.
Cocaine is a very powerful drug, and quitting can be quite difficult. This is not something that anyone should attempt on their own due to the risk of relapsing. Professional treatment is recommended to address both the physical and psychological sides of the addiction.
A medical detox is usually necessary for someone who is addicted to cocaine. This form of treatment helps to soothe withdrawal symptoms, lessening their severity.
During the detoxification process, the individual is given medications to help with specific symptoms. There are currently no FDA approved drugs that are designed to target cocaine withdrawal. But doctors do use some off-label for this purpose.
Detoxing may take around a week to ten days, but this is highly subjective. Once it is over, the next step is to move on to drug rehab for further treatment.
When a person enters into drug rehab, the main goal is to determine the root cause of the addiction. The same is true for someone who is addicted to cocaine. The addict may have started using the drug out of curiosity, but there is almost always a deeper issue present that needs to be addressed.
Cocaine is a common choice for people who suffer from co-occurring disorders. It is a stimulant, so it may counteract the effects of depressive disorder, for example. It may also appear to be an option for someone who has ADHD who may not be able to access prescription stimulants.
Treating the co-occurring disorder is so important because otherwise, the addict is very likely to relapse. This is done through individual therapy sessions, group therapy and other forms of treatment.
Northpoint the Evergreen offers one of the best outpatient rehab programs in Washington State. We have two facilities and they are located in Seattle and Bellevue.
As we mentioned earlier, detoxing is a critical part of the recovery process for cocaine addicts. While we do not offer those services at our facilities, we do make sure anyone who needs to detox gets a referral. We only refer to programs we trust, and afterward, the client returns to us for further treatment.
We offer three levels of care at Northpoint the Evergreen. They are intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization and our outpatient rehab program. This allows us to tailor the care that our clients receive according to their personal needs.
At Northpoint the Evergreen, we have worked with many people who suffered from cocaine addiction. We know how drastically this drug can take over a person’s life, and we are committed to providing the very best treatment available.
The hardest part of starting a rehab program is taking the first step to reach out for help. We understand that because many of our staff members are recovered addicts themselves. That allows them to bring unique insight into the treatment they are able to offer our clients. The best time to seek out treatment is now, and we are here to offer the necessary support.