What Is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine Addiction: Signs, Dangers and Recovery

Cocaine Addiction

It is important to note from the outset that cocaine is a highly addictive substance. An individual does not need to be a long-time user to develop an addiction to cocaine. It can happen very quickly and can go unnoticed by friends and family for a remarkably long time. What starts off as seemingly harmless experimentation and ‘fun’ can quickly turn into a potentially life-threatening addiction with significant personal, professional, financial, and familial consequences.

By recognizing the signs of cocaine abuse in a loved one, you can encourage them to get help before their situation deteriorates further. If you suspect that you have an addiction to cocaine yourself, it is critical to get help immediately – you may think you are ‘managing’ the situation now, but it will inevitably escalate. Cocaine addiction does not need to result in a ‘rock bottom’ situation where you lose everything and everyone close to you. Early intervention and action will result in an easier recovery process and an increased likelihood of maintaining long term recovery.

Recognizing the Signs of Cocaine Use

Signs of cocaine use vary from person to person, but some of the most common signs and symptoms include:

(Symptoms and direct signs of cocaine use)

  • Dilated pupils
  • Long periods of wakefulness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Overconfidence
  • Over-excitement
  • Paranoia
  • Runny nose or frequent sniffles
  • Grinding teeth
  • White powder around nostrils

(Indirect signs of cocaine use/addiction)

  • Legal issues
  • Missing from or being late to work
  • Financial problems
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Secretive behaviour

Health Risks of Cocaine Abuse

The highly addictive nature of cocaine makes it an extremely dangerous drug, and that’s not all – using cocaine also poses some very serious health risks. There are both short and long-term physical damage that can occur from cocaine abuse, ranging from overdose to organ failure. Cocaine abuse constricts the blood vessels, which causes an unhealthy, and often dangerous,  increase in blood pressure. For anyone suffering from heart defects (which may or may not be known) cocaine can lead to heart complications and even death. Snorting cocaine can also cause serious damage to the nasal cavity and septum.

The effects of cocaine are felt relatively quickly and are short-lived compared to other substances. Taken in smaller doses, cocaine produces effects of happiness, sociability, concentration and a decreased need for sleep.

However, larger amounts of cocaine are particularly dangerous. Large doses can cause violent behaviour, nosebleeds, heart attacks or strokes – which can be fatal. Common adverse side effects of cocaine use include:

  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Coma
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Seizures

Long Terms Side Effects

The extent of long-term side effects from cocaine abuse depends on the frequency and amount of cocaine used and over what period of time. Long term users of cocaine are exposed to serious longer lasting medical issues which can affect the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, gastrointestinal system and nasal cavity and passages (if snorting the substance).  Decreased appetite can even lead to malnutrition and lack of sleep can seriously impair brain functionality.

Continued abuse of cocaine can also lead to harmful behavioural and physiological side effects, such as depression and mood instability.

Cocaine Abuse or Addiction?

While abuse often leads to addiction, it is important to recognise that they are not the same. Cocaine abuse often causes immediate negative consequences, but some people who abuse cocaine are not addicted and are quite capable of quitting on their own. Cocaine addiction is a much more complex situation.

Cocaine use disorders are described on a spectrum ranging from mild to severe. The criteria are based on the negative impact that cocaine has on the user’s life, from consequences at work and in relationships, through to health complications, financial implications and in some cases legal problems resulting from criminality.

Intervention for a Cocaine Problem

If you have a loved one who you believe has a cocaine addiction, the next step is to encourage the person to seek help. It is common for those suffering from an addiction to deny they have a problem or refuse treatment. Setting up an intervention with close family and friends is a powerful way to persuade someone to get the help that they need.

Interventions should be handled in a safe, encouraging environment with a professional mediator. It is important to make your loved one understand that you want to help. If someone you know is exhibiting the symptoms of cocaine addiction, it is imperative you bring it up before it’s too late. An intervention is usually a ‘one attempt’ event, so it’s extremely important to get it right first time.  At The Lighthouse Bali, we are able to offer advice and referrals to professional interventionists,  to ensure that this critical step has the best chance of success.

Cocaine Withdrawal and Treatment

Cocaine releases excess amounts of dopamine in the user’s system. Dopamine is a happiness-inducing biochemical which occurs naturally in the body. After a cocaine binge, the brain is unable to produce natural amounts of dopamine on its own, which leaves the user feeling down and flat. This is why those who are addicted to cocaine need the drug to pick them up to the level where they simply feel ‘normal’.

Unlike some other drugs, cocaine withdrawal does not typically produce physical symptoms, but psychological symptoms can range from depression to fatigue and vary in severity.

Giving up cocaine does not require a medically assisted detox and is generally not life-threatening. However, continued use of cocaine, undoubtedly can have life-threatening consequences. Giving up cocaine for an addict is extremely difficult on a psychological and emotional level. Individuals often experience extreme cravings for cocaine which are too great to withstand without professional help. Rehab is strongly recommended for those with cocaine addictions to help them through the early stages and cravings while providing counselling and support.

The Lighthouse Bali’s 28 day Primary Inpatient Program has helped countless cocaine addicts get their lives back on track. Through professional, expert care and therapy, individuals are given the tools they need to ensure the best possible chances of a long term recovery.

If you are concerned about yourself of a loved one, we urge you to reach out and contact us. Our private programs are tailormade to suit individual needs in complete confidence and our doctorate level clinical staff have extensive experience in the field of addiction. If you are not currently in Bali but would like to begin a recovery program immediately, we also have online recovery options available which can be taken in this interim period before Bali reopens international borders on September 11th.

To talk to one of our team, contact us today. We understand that making the first call is never easy, but it’s the first step to getting back on track.

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