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8 Signs Your Loved One is Abusing Cocaine

Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant that can easily lead to addiction but is very difficult to quit. Cocaine does not produce physical symptoms during withdrawal. The psychological stress, however, can be intense, oftentimes leading someone to continue using. Being able to spot the signs of cocaine abuse can help you show concern and support, and it opens the door for a discussion about getting help.

In this article

    How To Tell if Someone Is Using Coke

    We all know the telltale sign of white powder around the lips or nose and the constant sniffing that crime shows and documentaries display. The mental and physical effects of cocaine abuse extend far beyond that. In some cases, it may be readily apparent that the person you love is dealing with addiction. In some cases, it may not be obvious at all.

    If you suspect that someone you love is using cocaine, it is important to look out for the signs. Repeated use of this drug can alter the brain’s chemical makeup permanently. This can cause issues that someone will have to deal with for the rest of their life. Early intervention is the best possible way to ensure that whatever damage has been done can be reversed or improved upon.

    Is My Loved One Using Cocaine?

    Physical Signs of Cocaine Use

    Some signs to look out for if you are concerned that your loved one is using cocaine include:

    1. Dilated Pupils, Runny Nose, or Nosebleeds. These often accompany users who inhale the powder through the nose. It can cause significant and permanent damage to the skin and cartilage inside of the nose. Because this method of ingesting cocaine provides an easy, quick, and intense high, it is the method most use. Prolonged use of cocaine through the nose can lead to a deviated septum, perforated septum, hard palate damage, and “saddle nose.”
    2. Sudden Changes in Sleeping, Eating, or Weight. Cocaine use suppresses appetite. It also causes dysfunction in metabolism that can interfere with fat intake and storage within the body. Its stimulant properties disturb normal sleep patterns, which also disrupts normal metabolic processes. Cocaine users typically seek the energizing high that the drug offers. During this period of use, the brain is unable to shut down for sleep. The change in brain chemistry actually causes a change to the body’s circadian rhythm which can permanently impact sleep.
    3. Deterioration of Hygiene. When the need for cocaine overwhelms a person, it becomes their first priority. Things like daily hygiene become less important. Many people in active cocaine addiction spend their money on the drug rather than on food, clothes, or hygienic products. This can lead to poor outward appearance. Many don’t even notice their lack of hygiene as their only concern is on getting and using cocaine. Continued drug use can also cause oral health to decline, as well as body odor and skin problems.

    Behaviors To Watch For

    1. Excitability or Rapid Mood Swings. Cocaine is a stimulant that can cause extreme highs as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are released in the brain. When those effects begin to wear off, the user can experience intense lows, especially when experiencing withdrawal. Through continued use of cocaine, brain chemistry is altered as sensitivity to the neurotransmitters is reduced. When the drug is not present, the brain cannot keep up naturally with the production of those neurotransmitters. The user often becomes reliant on cocaine to produce euphoric and pleasurable sensations or simply to keep from feeling bad. The use and loss of the drug in the brain are what causes those mood swings.
    2. Social Isolation and an Increased Need for Privacy. People who abuse cocaine often distance themselves from friends and family members for a variety of reasons. They may believe that their family members will notice their use and try to distance themselves to keep the addiction a secret. They may also feel a sense of guilt or shame for their drug use. People using cocaine may require increased privacy to obtain and use the drug. They may lock their doors or try to hide drugs and stay near those drugs so no one finds them.
    3. Engage in Risky Behaviors. As someone increases their use of cocaine, he or she may find themselves in situations where they get in trouble with the law or have to engage in risky behaviors to get more. Because cocaine is often used as a party drug and causes intense highs, users may engage in risky sexual behavior (which could lead to pregnancy or STDs). They may also combine multiple drugs at once which can lead to death.
    4. Financial Problems. You may notice that the person you worry about either asks to borrow money or you may notice missing money. Because the need for cocaine becomes so great during addiction, someone will do whatever it takes to get money for drugs. Even if they maintain a job or have some form of income, they are often struggling financially.
    5. Loss of Interest in Things They Once Enjoyed. Regular use of cocaine can lead someone to pull away from the people and things they used to enjoy because their life becomes solely about the next high. Someone struggling with cocaine addiction is trying to chase the high and will spend most of their time, and money, obtaining and using the drug. They may also feel that getting high is the only thing they are good at or able to do. The thought of going out and doing something else can induce anxiety or depression.

    Keeping an eye out for these symptoms is important for the safety of your loved one. It could be the difference between life and death, especially if the addiction takes such a strong hold that it leads to overdose. Signs of a cocaine overdose to look out for include excessive sweating, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, trouble breathing and hallucinations.

    What To Do If My Loved One Is Abusing Cocaine

    While it can often be difficult to tell whether someone is addicted to cocaine and whether they are experiencing overdose symptoms, educating yourself on what those look like and what to do if this happens can save their life. If you feel that someone you love is abusing cocaine, the first step is to get informed about cocaine addiction and on the resources available if they choose to seek help.

    Starting a conversation with them can be scary, difficult, and frustrating. Letting them know that you care and want to help is crucial in reminding them that they are not alone. They have options. Never accuse them of doing cocaine or of being “an addict.” This can push them further away. Instead, remind them how much you love and care about them and how concerned you are about their change in behavior. Provide whatever support they need, but stay away from diagnosing them or telling them what’s best. At the end of the day, they will only get help if they want to. You can’t force them. And as frustrating as that might seem, you have to take the guilt and blame out of the situation and seek help for yourself if the stress becomes too much.

    Getting Help

    At The Summit Wellness Group, we offer services to help both you and your loved one receive the necessary support during this difficult time. Through individual and group therapies, holistic treatments, and community support, we have the best treatment plans for helping your loved one achieve long-term recovery and a drug-free life.

    If you suspect that someone you love is abusing cocaine, The Summit Wellness Group provides a variety of treatment options that have helped many others curb their addiction and live a drug-free life.

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    We’d love the opportunity to help you during this overwhelming and difficult process. The Summit Wellness Group is located in Georgia and all of your calls will be directed to one of our local staff members. Our sincere passion is helping people recover so that they can live full, meaningful and healthy lives.

    Call us 24/7 at 770-299-1677. If we aren’t the right fit for you then we’ll utilize our expertise and connections within the treatment industry to assist you in finding the best provider for your specific needs. Alternatively you can fill out our contact form and a member of our staff will contact you shortly.