Understanding Cocaine Use, Abuse, Addiction & Recovery

Facts About Cocaine

woman in recovery for cocaine addiction

Getting Counseling for Cocaine Addiction Saves Lives

  • Cocaine is known to be a highly addictive drug
  • Cocaine can be snorted, used intravenously (injected), and smoked
  • The cocaine “high” is relatively short
    • if it’s snorted, 15-30 minutes
    • if it’s smoked, 5-10 minutes
  • People who use cocaine often binge on the drug to stay high
  • Cocaine is a stimulant drug that works by artificially increasing levels of pleasure-causing brain chemicals, especially dopamine

Cocaine is a drug that has been recognized by the federal government as being extremely habit forming. Because of this, cocaine users are vulnerable to becoming addicted. There is no “safe” way to use cocaine, and every one who uses it risks their life and health when they get high.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2008 there were 1.9 million current cocaine users. 359,000 of those users smoked the crystalized form or cocaine, known as crack. Cocaine produces a euphoric effect in the user by artificially increasing the release of dopamine. It also prevents normal re-absorption of dopamine back into the brain’s nerve cells.

Cocaine Is Also Called

  • Yayo
  • Blow
  • Coke
  • Dust
  • Nose Candy
  • Snow

How is Cocaine Ingested or Used?

Cocaine comes in two different forms. The powdered form is snorted through the nose or dissolved into water and injected. Some users inject cocaine directly into their vein by diluting it in water while other inject it directly into the skin (known as “skin popping”). The other form cocaine comes in is crack, which is processed into rock crystals and then smoked using a pipe or other paraphernalia. Crack is usually not as pure as powdered cocaine. It is also often cut with dangerous chemicals.

Symptoms /Signs of Cocaine Use

Cocaine is a stimulant that, when snorted, can last up to 30 minutes. A person who is under the influence of cocaine will be more talkative and animated then usual and will exhibit personality changes such as euphoria and overconfidence. The person under the influence will appear to have more energy and dilated pupils. If you take their pulse, you’ll notice an elevated heart rate. People who snort the drug may suffer from constant runny noses or frequent nosebleeds. You may notice the residue of white powder inside their nostril. When the user is coming down off the drug, he or she may seem exhausted, irritable, and depressed.

Dangers of Long-Term Cocaine Use

Cocaine use is never safe and users risk many health problems through prolonged use, including addiction (which can literally turn their life completely upside down and destroy their family – if not kill them outright).

The long-term effects of cocaine usage will vary from person-to-person. Some people suffer from malnutrition and have dramatic weight loss. People who inject cocaine, especially “skin poppers”, are especially prone to dangerous skin infections. They also run the risk of contracting diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis when they share needles. Users who snort cocaine also face damage due to the use of the drug. Snorting cocaine can cause serious damage to the sinuses and the nose. Users may also experience runny noses, and frequent nosebleeds. Some users will even lose their sense of smell.

People who have been using cocaine for a long period of time often become dependent on it to function on a daily basis. If they try to cease using it, they may have trouble quitting. Continued cocaine use can lead to heart problems, breathing problems, nervous system issues, digestive problems and severe allergic reactions/chemical sensitivities. Long-term cocaine users can experience a condition called “severe paranoia”, which is a psychiatric emergency that causes the user to lose touch with reality.

Cocaine is a dangerous stimulant. Every time a person uses it, there is a risk of permanent damage or even death. Cocaine induced heart attacks happen to users frequently, and there are other ways that it can damage the body and mind in the event of an overdose. There’s no “safe” level of cocaine use.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Dependency/Addiction

Cocaine addiction is a serious medical condition that causes both physical and mental changes in the user. A person who is addicted to cocaine may become distant or show a lack of interest in things that they once enjoyed. The personality changes that come along with addiction may be difficult for friends or family members to understand.

As a person continues to abuse cocaine, their body will build a tolerance to the drug. They need progressively larger amounts of cocaine to feel high. A long-term cocaine user may behave erratically or become increasingly moody. They sacrifice a job or friendship when it gets in the way of their drug use. Many addicts experience financial problems due to their drug use.

A person who is addicted to cocaine will exhibit continued drug-seeking behavior. This means they’ll do everything they can to keep the drug around and get high. Some people will steal to get high once they’ve exhausted their financial resources. A user may keep erratic hours, have trouble keeping appointments, and may even disappear for days on a “binge.”

As we say about most drugs, sometimes the clearest evidence that someone is abusing cocaine, is when they can’t get the drug. People who are addicted to cocaine will avoid outings and activities that will prevent them from obtaining or using the drug.  The addicted person who is on a trip or under long term supervision and unable to use cocaine will become extremely moody and unhappy as the withdrawals and cravings increase.

Many cocaine users also take sedatives i.e. downers to try and “balance” out their high and get sleep.

How to Get Help for a Cocaine Problem

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that can take its toll on a user’s social life, health, and finances. If you think you have a problem with cocaine, and you’re not sure where to turn, you’re in the right place. We want you to know that recovery is possible. You can reclaim your life and choose to recover. Addiction professionals recommend that a person who is addicted to cocaine find an appropriate treatment program to help them learn new coping skills and remain drug-free in the long term.

Not sure where to start?Want to learn more about your treatment options?

Give us a call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. All phone call as 100% confidential.