Cocaine is a potent and highly addictive stimulant drug that immediately hooks users after the first use. Long associated with being the “party drug” of the 1970s, cocaine use continues to be a significant health issue in the United States. It is estimated that 5.2 million people over 12 years of age in the United States have used cocaine in the past month. Additionally, nearly 20,000 people died of a drug overdose involving cocaine in 2020.
We will take a closer look at the signs of cocaine use and the addictive pull of the drug. Most importantly, you will know where to find help if you or a loved one are experiencing the symptoms of cocaine abuse.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which is indigenous to Latin America, especially the countries of Colombia and Peru. For centuries, people throughout South America chewed on the leaves of the coca plant for its stimulant properties and to help them deal with the high altitudes of their environment. The compound cocaine hydrochloride is extracted from coca leaves and taken to remote jungle labs to process the raw materials into what we know as cocaine.
Cocaine comes in two chemical forms. The most common form is a white powder that can be snorted or mixed with water and injected intravenously into the veins. Powder cocaine is often “cut” by dealers to maximize quantity and profits. Common cutting agents include talcum powder, baking soda, and even other drugs such as amphetamines and heroin. The second form is known as freebase or “crack” cocaine. Crack is made by combining the drug with baking soda and water and then cooking it to remove the hydrochloride compound.
Cocaine is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse but have an accepted medical use. For years, cocaine hydrochloride solution had been used as a topical anesthetic to help reduce bleeding in the mouth, throat, and nasal mucous membranes. With the development of more effective products, the use of cocaine for medical purposes has dramatically diminished.
What are the Signs of Cocaine Use?
The signs of cocaine use are hard to conceal because the physical behaviors can be easily seen. The most common signs of addiction to cocaine include the following:
- Dilated pupils
- Runny nose
- Sudden weight loss
- Mood swings
- Deteriorating physical hygiene
- Increased isolation from family, friends, and activities
- Sudden change in peers
- White powder residue around nose or burn marks on hands and lips
Other cocaine use symptoms include frequent nosebleeds, increasing financial pressure, becoming increasingly talkative, excitability, and the appearance of paraphernalia such as bent spoons, razor blades, and plastic baggies. If you notice the signs of cocaine use in a loved one or yourself, you must find professional help as soon as possible.
How Addictive is Cocaine?
Cocaine is one of the most powerful stimulant drugs on the planet. It directly affects the neurochemistry in the brain’s reward center. As a result, many people become addicted to cocaine and display the signs of cocaine addiction after the first use. Cocaine blocks dopamine from being reabsorbed in the brain. As a result, vast quantities of dopamine linger in the brain, leading users to feel intense euphoria. When the effects of cocaine begin to diminish, the brain is too overworked and unable to produce dopamine on its own. This leads to users taking more cocaine, so more dopamine to reinforce the good feelings.
People can build a tolerance to cocaine over a short period, and they will use more and more of the drug to feel the same levels of euphoria they felt when they first used the drug. The physical and psychological dependence on cocaine leads people to become addicted to the drug. When people are addicted to cocaine, they use the drug to function on a daily basis and not for the immense high. Worse yet, people will often use cocaine with other substances such as alcohol and heroin, which increases the risk of overdose and death.
How to Find Cocaine Treatment Programs
The signs of cocaine use in you or a loved one can be disheartening and defeating. To truly break free from the grip of cocaine addiction, you must receive the programming and support from a reputable facility. If you or a loved one need a safe, secure, and non-judgmental place to address your addiction, call Living Now Sober Living today. Living Now offers evidence-based sober living programs in Venice Beach, mentorship, and access to a wide network of outpatient and aftercare programs for men that will help you get and stay sober.
If you are looking for men’s sober living in Los Angeles, Living Now Sober Living and Recovery Services is here to help. Call us today and begin a new and happier chapter in your life.