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Identifying the signs of cocaine addiction

Identifying the signs of cocaine addiction

01-30 | CDAH Team

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug with approximately 2 million users in the United States alone (National Health Institute of Drug Abuse). Popularly called “coke,” “snow” “blow” and “crack,” among other street names, the drug stimulates the brain to produce feelings of excitement, energy and euphoria. That high comes at a terrible cost, however, putting addicts at risk of strokes, seizures, heart attacks and even coma. Identifying the tell-tale signs of cocaine abuse is vitally important to ensuring that addicts get the help they need before they do permanent damage to themselves.

Physical evidence of cocaine

Cocaine itself comes in two forms. The first and most common form is a white powder that might look like flour or sugar. This powder is typically snorted through the nose, often with some sort of straw. An unusual amount of drink straws, pen shafts or even rolled up dollar bills in a suspected addict’s possession could be signs of cocaine use. Mirrors and razor blades are other common cocaine paraphernalia. The powdered form can also be injected by mixing it with water, so syringes, belts and other items associated with injection can be considered suspicious.

The second form of cocaine looks like small white rocks or crystals and is often called “crack.” This form of cocaine is heated up and smoked in a small glass pipe. Pipes used to smoke crack are often disguised as other items and sold openly in convenience stores. One type of a disguised crack pipe is a “love rose,” which is a small paper flower packaged in a glass tube. This glass tube is actually intended to be used as a crack pipe. Addicts use wool mesh pipe or dish cleaners as filters for the pipe (Forbes, “A Rose in a Glass by Any Other Name Is a Crack Pipe”). Any of these articles found among a suspected addict’s possessions could indicate cocaine use.

Symptoms of cocaine abuse

Cocaine causes a drastic effect on an abuser’s mood and behavior both before and after use. During the grips of a high, cocaine users can appear nervous, twitchy, paranoid, unusually excited and prone to mood swings. Their body temperature and heart rate will also rise to potentially dangerous levels. Once the high wears off, the abuser will typically “crash” and could behave tired or restless for up to several days. Addicts who have gone too long without a fix may experience nightmares, depression and paranoia as they go through withdrawal.

Users often show a number of physical signs of abuse as the drug takes its toll on the body. Snorting cocaine can cause a runny or bloody nose, and addicts will often lose their sense of smell due to the damage caused in their nasal passages. Injecting cocaine will produce visible track marks around an addict’s veins, typically on the upper arms. Long-term abuse of cocaine can also cause significant weight loss and malnutrition due to loss of appetite.

If someone you love is showing signs of cocaine abuse, the Colorado Drug Addiction Helpline is available 24/7 to connect you with an effective treatment plan. Call 866-218-7546 to speak with a health professional.

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