Methamphetamines are generally considered to be the easiest drug to become dependent upon. But next to meth, cocaine creates the strongest dependence, both physiologically and psychologically. Users quickly develop a tolerance for the drug, and as a result they need more and more to achieve the same high.
Yet, despite the dangerous addictive qualities of coke, it’s often glamorized. What used to be considered a “rock star” drug is now one that even TV depicts people using as a part of everyday life. It’s because of that that sometimes people may not realize just how addictive the drug is.
If you’ve been using cocaine and think you’re addicted, continue reading. Or if someone you know uses coke, please read on to find out what you need to know about cocaine addiction.
Is Cocaine Addictive?
We’ve covered the basics of addiction elsewhere on this site, but we’ll give you just a quick refresher in case you’re visiting Addictive Addiction for the first time.
Addiction is thought to be caused by chemical changes in the brain. That is to say, when a substance is ingested, hormones in the brains change frequency or amount of release. This is particularly true for chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which control the pleasure centers of the brain.
As a person uses a substance, the brain begins to tell the body that it feels good. However, with continued use of the substance, the receptors in the brain begin to require more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect.
Thus begins addiction; in a nutshell, the brain begins to “need” the drug to reach normal hormone levels. Cocaine, in this regard, is highly addictive. It’s a drug which quickly causes the brain to need more and more to get the same result, and cocaine users seek out the drug through many, sometimes dangerous, means.
So is cocaine addictive? Yes. Cocaine is addictive. Let’s look at the basics of cocaine addiction.
Signs of Cocaine Use
Let’s assume for a moment that you’re not reading this for yourself. Instead, maybe you’ve got a friend or a family member whom you think is using coke, but you’re not sure. What are the signs of cocaine use?
There are a few signs to look out for if you suspect someone is using coke. The first and most obvious sign is the actual presence of coke. But if you’ve not seen the drug around, there are other ways you can tell if someone might be using.
The first is a white powder on the nose – again, this is an obvious symptom, but it’s a fairly certain sign of cocaine use. If your friend leaves the room to use the drug and returns in a much different mood, this may be a sign as well. Other, more subtle signs include:
• Pupil dilation
• Excitability and excessive confidence
• Loss or complete lack of appetite
• Great amounts of energy
• Runny noses or constant “sniffling”
• Needle marks on the arms, legs, hands, feet or neck
• Sexual interest where there had been none
Of course, if your friend is exhibiting these symptoms, it’s not certain that he is using cocaine. There may be another logical reason for the mood changes or other signs. Before you jump to conclusions, try doing a bit more research.
Cocaine Side Effects
Some of the signs listed above are considered cocaine side effects. Pupil dilation is usually short term, as is the burst of energy. A cocaine user may also become suddenly talkative or even anxious.
The high you feel when you use cocaine depends on how you take the drug. If you snort coke, it may take you a little longer to feel high. But the high will last longer than if you smoke it. Injecting cocaine is less frequently done but the effects can last for up to two hours.
Because cocaine is so highly addictive, it’s fair to say that any cocaine use is cocaine abuse. However, it’s still true that some people are able to “try” the drug once and never go back, contrary to what people seem to think about drugs like this and heroin.
Long term use of cocaine is what we’re considering cocaine abuse, and there are signs which you can look for. If you’re concerned that you or your loved one has a problem with cocaine abuse, consider the following signs of addiction.
• Exclusion from social activities in order to use cocaine
• Financial difficulties caused by cocaine and the use of cocaine. This could be because of missing work or because of the purchase of the drug
• Missing work or school frequently
• Severe weight loss caused by a loss of appetite
• Excessive sniffling or runny nose in an otherwise healthy person
• A change in personal hygiene
• Easily confused or “spacey”
• Relationship problems caused by cocaine abuse
• Severe changes in sleep habits and patterns
Again, before you accuse someone of cocaine abuse, be sure to research and ask questions. When someone feels backed into a corner or judged, he or she may be less likely to seek help.
Dangers of Coke Addiction
There are many dangers of coke addiction which we discuss elsewhere on Addictive Addiction. But the biggest danger of coke addiction is the long term effect the drug has on the body.
Short term effects of the drug are similar to that of other drugs, such as meth and even some opiates. You may experience shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, nosebleeds, weight loss, and fatigue following a “high.”
But the long term effects are scary. Your heart begins to work improperly, putting you at risk of arrhythmias and heart attack. Vascular disease becomes a more imminent threat. You may have a stroke or a seizure. You may be at risk for HIV, AIDS or other diseases if you share needles. And it’s a very real possibility that any of these side effects could ultimately lead to your death.
Cocaine Nose: The Scary Truth
Another danger of cocaine addiction is cocaine nose. You may have heard to the sniffles or runny nose symptoms as cocaine nose. That’s not exactly right.
Cocaine constricts blood flow to the nose when you use it. That causes the cartilage in your nose to die. Once cartilage dies, it doesn’t come back – this is a permanent side effect.
The dead cartilage can no longer support your nose and your nose literally collapses. The only way to reverse this is through extensive cosmetic surgery.
How Common is Coke Addiction?
Unfortunately, many coke addicts are self reporting. That makes it almost impossible to tell just how many people are addicted to cocaine. But there are a few numbers we can tell you to give you an idea of just how common cocaine addiction is.
In Europe, 7.5 million 15 to 34 year olds report to having used cocaine at least once in their lives. Around a million and a half of those reported that they’d used it in the past month.
In the United States, there are 35.3 million people who say that they’ve used the drug. This is from a group of all people surveyed who were age 12 and older. Wondering about those kids? 8.5% of all high school seniors surveyed had used cocaine at least once.
Cocaine Addiction Symptoms
We talked about a few of the cocaine addiction symptoms above. If you feel that your loved one is addicted to cocaine, please seek help. Likewise, if you feel that you have a problem with the use of cocaine, please seek professional guidance.
In addition to the physical signs of addiction, the drug will likely have a psychological impact on a user. It’s extremely difficult to kick the coke habit without professional help. Those who are addicted to cocaine have become so physically and psychologically dependent upon the drug that it may be dangerous to fly solo. It’s strongly recommended that you seek cocaine addiction help.
Cocaine Addiction Help
You’ve heard the saying: recognizing that there’s a problem is the first step to recovery. But sometimes, if you’re self-diagnosing, that can be hard to do. If your family or friends have suggested that you may have a cocaine problem, you’re a truly lucky person. Those people care about you, and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll stick by you throughout the process of quitting.
We don’t recommend that you try to recover from cocaine addiction on your own. There are too many dependencies and too many dangers to withdrawal. Instead, research inpatient or outpatient facilities. These organizations have qualified doctors who can help you through the process of quitting. They may be able to set you up with counseling services as well.
Cocaine is a very popular drug even amongst “intellectuals.” Cocaine use is frequently reported on Wall Street and in academics, as some say it allows them to feel more intellectual.
Cocaine is a street drug, and it’s for this reason that it’s known to be especially dangerous. The drug has been “cut” with talcum powder, cornstarch, flour or even other street drugs. Some of the substances cocaine is mixed with can be extremely dangerous in combination with the drug.
Popular nicknames for coke in the United States and elsewhere include crack, coke, blow, snow and rock. The names can be regional, but they also refer to the form the cocaine takes.