When a person first tries recreational drugs, whether they are legal substances such as alcohol, or illegal drugs like heroin or crystal meth, they never begin with the intentions of becoming addicted to that drug. However, with substances such as cocaine, addiction occurs more easily than one could ever imagine. Cocaine addiction can be a serious and life-threatening problem for those who suffer from it. Get to know the behavioral and physical signs of cocaine addiction, as well as the serious negative side effects that cocaine addiction can have.
Before you can recognize the signs of cocaine addiction, you need to understand the internal and unseen mechanisms of the drugs effects upon the body. Among drug users, the substance is said to be an “upper.” It produces as intense and quick high that boosts energy. It also activates the pleasure centers (dopamine receptors) in the brain. This surge of good feelings that are processed in the brain and the rapid loss of those feelings that follows, cause the body to physically crave the drug that gave it that surge of euphoria no matter how far those feelings dip in the aftermath.
As an addict begins abusing the drug and developing an addiction, they may exhibit changes in behavior. Some of these changes are subtle and occur over time, while others seem to manifest overnight and represent an almost unprecedented shift in actions and behaviors. A person abusing cocaine will likely become extremely talkative, even if they are usually quiet and reserved. The cocaine addict will also seem to have sudden and intense bursts of energy and act erratically and unpredictably. They may jump from one idea or task to the next without rhyme or reason.
Someone abusing the substance may often behave recklessly and engage in risky behavior. This can be anything from sexual promiscuity to driving a vehicle under the influence, running red lights and the like. They may also get violent and could begin stealing money or valuables to finance their addiction or because they have lost control.
In addition to changes in behavior, addicts begin to show physical signs of drug abuse and addiction. People under the influence of the drug tend to have noticeably dilated pupils. Nasal symptoms are extremely common among addicts as well. Many of them have a perpetually runny nose, may develop a nasal perforation (a hole in the cartilage between the nostrils), and are prone to bloody noses. Users are also often hoarse or sound as if they are losing their voice because when cocaine is snorted, it affects the throat as well as the nasal passages.
Additional noticeable physical symptoms of cocaine use are tremors, headaches, twitching muscles, and noticeable weight loss and malnutrition.
Cocaine has a profound effect on the cardiovascular system. Users experience rapid heartbeats, cardiac arrhythmias, and constricted blood vessels. The constriction of the blood vessels can also result in high blood pressure that, when coupled with a faster than normal heart rate, can cause sudden cardiac arrest or heart attacks. Because of the constricted blood vessels and the lack of proper nutrition (or any nutrition), a person can also develop gangrene of the bowels. This occurs when blood flow ceases to a portion of the intestines, and that area of the bowel essentially dies. Gangrenous bowels can be life-threatening and requires emergency surgery to fix and may result in a colostomy in which body waste is funneled into a bag outside of the body.
Cocaine abuse can also cause strokes, another unpleasant side effect of constricted blood vessels. It can also put a person into a coma, as well as cause psychological disturbances such as hallucinations and intense paranoia.
The signs of cocaine addiction and abuse span a wide range of behaviors and physical symptoms. In addition to these telltale signs, it is important to know how severe the side effects of cocaine use can become. Once you know how to recognize the warning signs of cocaine addiction, you can encourage a loved one to get help for their dangerous addiction.