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The Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

If you’re worried that someone you know may be suffering from a cocaine addiction, you need to know what to look for. Drug addictions can be easy to hide from loved ones, but not if those loved ones are educated about the signs of cocaine abuse.

Recognizing Signs of Cocaine Addiction

The signs of cocaine abuse may slip by you if you don’t pay attention to what matters. First, let’s look at the signs of cocaine addiction by what using cocaine looks like and how it affects the user.

Cocaine gets into the bloodstream quickly, but the high is short-lived (anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes). It blocks dopamine from getting recycled by the brain, artificially raising the levels of “feel good” that dopamine creates. This feeling usually comes along with being happy, talkative, social, excitable, confident, and having lower inhibitions. Once the crash begins, however, users may sleep or eat more than usual.

Here are some other things that might give away a cocaine user:

  • White powder around the mouth or nose
  • Constant sniffling
  • Needle marks from injecting
  • Burn marks on hands or lips
  • Risky behaviors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose

Signs of snorting cocaine specifically include:

  • Curled up dollar bills – These are often used to snort the powder.
  • Bloodshot eyes – If they have red eyes or seem to constantly treat red eyes with drops, this may be a sign of cocaine use.
  • Erratic Sleep – Binging on snorting cocaine will seriously disrupt a person’s sleep schedule.
  • Sniffles – A drippy or dry nose without present illness is a major red flag of coke use.
  • Cash – Buying cocaine is usually a cash transaction, so users may carry large amounts of cash on them or seem to always have cash at any moment.
  • Disappearing – Coke users need a place to use. Taking a quick break to use the bathroom, going outside for a “cigarette”, or going to the car will provide a safe place to use while out and about.
  • Nervousness or anxiety – If someone is abnormally nervous or anxious, take note.

Not all people snort cocaine, however. Some choose to smoke or inject the drug into their system. If so, they may show physical signs of use. Some physical signs of cocaine use to look for are:

  • Needle marks – These can be seen on various parts of the body but are most prevalent on the arms, legs, hands, feet and neck. These are often called track marks.
  • Collapsed veins – When a vein becomes completely blocked by blood clots that have formed into scar tissue. This is caused by using the same injection site repeatedly.
  • Abscesses – Sores filled with pus and fluid from injection sites.
  • Hepatitis C or HIV – These can be contracted through needle use.
  • Endocarditis – An infection of the heart’s inner lining, often caused by mixing acid with cocaine to make it soluble before injecting.

Dangers of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine use can be evident right after the fact, but a full-out addiction has another whole set of symptoms to look out for. It’s a dangerous life to live as a cocaine addict, with energy swinging from the high to the crash. It can affect relationships, work, school, and general quality of life.

The symptoms seen from cocaine addiction vary by the length the addiction has been going on, how much is used, how frequently it is used, and the individual’s dependence on cocaine. In trying to determine the level of addiction someone may be facing, these are some common symptoms of a cocaine addict:

  • Euphoric mood followed by depressed moods
  • Irritability
  • Elevated feelings of well-being or supremacy
  • Restlessness
  • Lying about use
  • Hiding use from friends, family, loved ones
  • Strained relationships
  • Failure to maintain work (job, school, etc)
  • Always wearing long-sleeves (covers track marks)
  • Sudden money problems or legal problems
  • Excited, fast speech
  • Recurring nasal issues
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Impaired sexual function
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia or Anxiety
  • Violent behavior
  • Break from reality or psychosis

Find out more about the Cocaine withdrawal effects.

While this is an extensive list of addiction signs, not all signs must be present in order for someone to have a problem. Sometimes people can be functionally addicted, meaning they seem to still maintain relationships and work and a seemingly normal life, but they have dark secrets and a hidden part of their life they aren’t sharing.

Now that you’re familiar with how to spot a cocaine user, let’s learn about some options for intervention and treatment for cocaine addiction.

Intervention and Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Many rehab treatment centers offer inpatient or outpatient programs for those battling cocaine addiction.
At SOBA, we have a unique three-phase program that will help ease someone out of addiction, into sobriety, and back to a new, sober life. We provide unique, customized care to each client and create an environment where growth and change can last.

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