04 Oct Cocaine Abuse: Side Effects, Symptoms, & Treatment
In one word, drug addiction is dangerous. Not only can addiction cost an individual everything they have—friends, family, job, money—but, in the worst of cases, it can cost a person his or her own life.
One of the most dangerous (and highly illegal) drugs on the market today, is cocaine. This article will detail cocaine abuse, specifically covering the following topics:
- Side Effects
The goal of this content is to educate, as knowledge creates power. By becoming more aware of cocaine, as well as the negative hold it can have on a person, it may be possible to help those struggling with the narcotic, and hopefully, finally bring this horrible epidemic to an end.
Cocaine is an illegal drug—you already know this fact to be true. However, what else do you know about the drug? In order to fully understand how dangerous it is, and whether or not there is hope in getting treatment for it, you must learn about its origins.
A sad, yet true statistic, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 14 percent of all Americans age 12 and older have used cocaine in their lifetime.
Specifically, cocaine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system by increasing an individual’s energy levels. In short, the drug helps to keep people awake for longer periods of time, while also causing their heart rate and blood pressure to increase. Feelings of pleasure are also peaked.
Due to the fact that cocaine is so addictive and greatly affects the brain, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has classified it as a Schedule II drug in the United States (it is illegal in all 50 states).
Without adding any further information, you should be able to understand and appreciate the dangers of this drug.
Generally speaking, there are two different types of cocaine:
- A powder form, which can be snorted, injected or smoked.
- A rock form—crack cocaine—that is often smoked.
In 2013, the NIDA published that almost 5,000 people died from a cocaine overdose, adding that the drug is extremely addictive and highly affects the brain.
While cocaine can be damaging all on its own, when it is combined with other drugs—as it usually is—the consequences can be even more devastating.
For example, the American Addiction Center reported that when cocaine is abused, other drugs and alcohol are often abused, too, resulting in the term “polydrug abuse.” When polydrug abuse takes place, the risk of an overdose heightens. Though symptoms can vary, a cocaine overdose can often include the following: nausea, vomiting, tremors, seizures, elevated heart rates, chest pains, and an increase in blood pressure and body temperature.
That is just the beginning. The symptoms and injuries of a cocaine overdose will be explored later on in this article in much more detail.
Other Names for Cocaine
As with most illegal drugs on the street today, there are various names associated with cocaine, including the following:
- Snow White
- White Powder
- White Fluff
- Big C
When combined with other drugs, cocaine may be referred to as:
- Candy Flipping
- Bumping Up
- Snow Seals
Be aware. When it comes to drugs, especially those as addictive and dangerous as cocaine, awareness can save lives.
Abuse vs. Addiction
As with any type of drug use, even alcohol, there is a difference between abusing the drug and becoming addicted to the drug. It is necessary to understand both concepts, as one can lead into the other.
When a person regularly uses cocaine (or, again, any drug), he or she will likely become used to it, even build up a tolerance for it. Once this tolerance has been established, the individual will have to consume higher and higher doses in order to experience a high. This is considered abuse. When a person continues to increase their intake of any sort of drug on a regular basis, abuse is or has occurred.
Addiction takes the problem even further, creating the possibility of even more dangerous consequences.
If someone is addicted to cocaine, then, in a sense, he or she needs the drug, or think he or she needs the drug, to function. Cocaine is no longer a recreational drug, but a drug that is used and abused daily—likely several times a day. This drug addiction will then consume the user’s life, resulting in a lack of interest in other life events, such as school, friend, family, career, health, and other responsibilities. Not only does this person lose interest, but they also will not care that they are self-destructing.
Remember, addiction is a disease. When an individual tries to fight the disease, he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms from drugs, such as drowsiness, fatigue, increased appetite, depression, mood swings, nightmares, and more.
Recognizing Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
In order to know if a person is either abusing or addicted to cocaine, it will be necessary to recognize the signs—and there are many. Though recreational use does not necessarily mean abuse or addiction is taking place, remember, this drug is highly addictive and dangerous. Therefore, if a problem has not occurred yet, it does not mean that it will not. Further, if you notice a friend or loved one experimenting with the illegal drug, it will be best to stop the problem before it becomes one.
Once cocaine is consumed, it does not take long to affect the body. However, this also means that the high does not last all that long either. Particularly, the high has been known to last between 5 to 30 minutes, depending on how much of the drug is consumed and over what kind of time period.
When a person has become exposed to cocaine, he or she may become more talkative and energetic, have a boost in confidence, lack of appetite, and avoid sleep. Though, following the high, a crash period almost always takes place.
Other common signs that a person may be using or abusing cocaine can include the following:
- A white powder or residue stain on or around the nose and/or mouth
- If the drug has been injected, needle marks on the arms or other body parts
- Burn marks, usually on hands and/or lips, indicating the drug has been smoked
- Any types of drug paraphernalia on their person or in their personal effects (i.e. pipe, spoon, syringe)
- A drastic change in mood, weight, sleeping and eating patterns, and levels of energy
- Any kind of uncharacteristic, high-risk behavior
- Dilated pupils
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Financial difficulties
If you recognize that someone may be using or abusing cocaine, what do you do? Or, more importantly, what can you do?
For starters, you do not want to be too confrontational. When a person is on drugs, specifically cocaine, their mood will become elevated. Therefore, you never really know how this person will react. The last thing you want to do is get into a physical altercation or any sort of fight, really. Stay calm, relaxed, even spoken, and simply offer your help. If the person declines, then walk away. Remember, in order for a person to get proper help, they have to want it.
Symptoms of Cocaine Use
When an individual uses cocaine regularly, he or she will often develop symptoms from the drug. Those who abuse the drug regularly are prone to experience cocaine side effects, such as insomnia, cardiovascular damage, mental health problems, and depression.
Not only does a person risk their mental and physical health by abusing cocaine, but the way in which they choose to consume the drug can also result in a different kind of damage to his or her body.
For example, those who shoot cocaine using needles instead of snort it is more likely to contract HIV or hepatitis C. This is due to the fact that sharing needles, especially dirty ones, commonly leads to disease. Blood poisoning is also a possibility.
Long-term health consequences that can arise from cocaine use and abuse include hallucinations, a decreased appetite resulting in malnourishment, paranoia, and gastrointestinal effects.
It is imperative to note that no one is immune from the dangers of cocaine—whether it is used, a few times, or repeatedly. Anyone who exposes themselves to the drug risks the possible consequences.
Seeking Treatment for Cocaine
If you or someone you know has become addicted to cocaine, or feel as if an addiction could occur, then it is important to seek treatment. The silver lining to the dangerous drug epidemic that continues to hold tight to society, is that many different treatment options are available. However, you, or the person with the drug problem, has to want to get help. Without an acknowledgment of the addiction and the will to beat it, no treatment center will be successful.
When the conscious decision is made to quit cocaine, withdraw is likely to happen. As previously mentioned, cocaine is a highly addictive drug, therefore, getting off of it will be all the more difficult. You must understand that detox will be part of the process. Though difficult, it is not impossible—if you want to get better, you can.
First, you will need to find a facility that can address your specific needs. You are not searching for group assistance, but a facility that can simply put, cater to you and your needs. You will want to visit different options, ask questions, meet the staff, read reviews, and if possible, talk with patients who have the first-hand experience.
It is likely that each rehab facility will offer something different, whether it be a treatment plan or outpatient care. Again, you need to choose the best option for your needs. Depending on your addiction, and how much you currently depend on cocaine, you may need an inpatient program.
Whichever way you decide to go, understand this: Regardless of the nature of your addiction—if you are new to the drug or have been using it regularly for a while—there are tools and various options to get you back on track with your life to help you live completely drug-free.
Avoiding a Cocaine Addiction
Though it may seem easier said than done, the best way to avoid a cocaine addiction is to never start taking the drug. As it has been stated repeatedly throughout this article, cocaine is an extremely addictive drug. Therefore, once you start taking it, even if you only try a little, there is a chance you could become immediately addicted and want more.
The following tips could help ensure an addiction problem never occurs:
- Always say NO—no matter what the circumstances are
- Stay away from negative people, situations, and influences
- Manage your stress in a healthy way, perhaps with exercise
- Build strong, healthy relationships that don’t involve drug use
- Have goals, and always be working towards those goals
- If you start to become interested in drugs, recognize the signs
Be kind to yourself. No one is perfect, and mistakes do happen. Do not let one mistake or a series of mistakes define you and your life. Help, in one form or another, is always available. If you are ready for help and need help, then ask for it—that is the first step.
Never Be Afraid to Ask for Help—Change Is Possible
Now that you are more familiar with cocaine, cocaine abuse, side effects, and treatment options, there is one more fact that needs to be blatantly stated: change is possible. If you are currently suffering from a cocaine addiction, you should never be afraid to ask for help, because it is never too late to start treatment and turn your life around.
Unfortunately, that is a common misconception regarding cocaine and another type of drug addiction. Once an individual turns down that dark path, it is often thought that there is no going back. While there can be consequences—both health and legal—it is never too late to better yourself and your life. Though, you have to be ready and dedicated to putting in the work and making the change happen.