If you suspect a loved one is using cocaine, you need to encourage them to seek help from one of the professional treatment programs. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant which increases amounts of dopamine in the brain and has an effect on the central nervous system.
Cocaine can cause intense cravings which compel the addict to seek the drug. This can, in turn, have a huge negative impact on the addict. He may lose his job, get into financial problems, as well as cause a strain in his relationship. It is therefore important to understand the warning signs and what they mean so that you can determine if you need to encourage your loved one to enroll in one of the treatment programs.
Cocaine causes chemical changes in the brain. It blocks neurotransmitters from reabsorbing feel-good hormone dopamine. These cause a chemical buildup of this hormone between the nerves. The result is a high that gives the user an extraordinary feeling of elation.
Cocaine is absorbed quickly into the body. The user can get high within minutes and exhibit some of the following changes in behavior.
- Euphoria: Most people who abuse cocaine experience intense feelings of pleasure also known as euphoria. The chemical changes in the brain and the effect of dopamine causes the user to feel positive and better about themselves than they usually do. This effect may appeal to people with mood disorders or those with low self-esteem. However, the euphoria may not be as intense.
- Grandiosity: Cocaine can sometimes increase its users’ self-confidence. In some instances, users may even feel superior to others and have greater confidence in their abilities. The drug does not increase one’s ability but only how one perceives it. When the high is gone, the user may feel worse about themselves, thereby starting another cycle that eventually becomes an addiction.
- Sociability: Cocaine can make one more sociable. It boosts self-confidence and makes one more talkative and gregarious in the presence of people. This is an effect that can be tempting to people with social anxiety and depression. Because the drug is absorbed quickly in the brain if a loved one is using cocaine you may notice a dramatic change in confidence and sociability after they’ve reappeared from taking a hit.
Cocaine can physical signs caused by physiological changes as well as how the user feel at the time. Overtime the addict may focus more on the pleasurable feelings and ignore the unpleasant ones. Some of the physical signs of cocaine use are:
- Eyes: A person using cocaine may have dilated pupils. The eyes become more sensitive to light.
- Running nose/Nosebleeds: The user may have a more frequent case of running nose. Nosebleeds are also common for people who abuse the drug. If the addict is snorting, you may notice white powder around the nose.
- Gastric Ulcers: Cocaine can be snorted, smoked or ingested. When ingested it can cause gastric ulcers and intestinal problems.
- Enlarged Heart: Use of the drug can cause inflammation of the heart muscle and thereby cause the heart to enlarge.
- Blood Vessels: It causes blood vessels to constrict. This often leads to heart attacks, especially with higher doses. The effect that the drug has the heart has also been known to cause the rapture of the aorta and other blood vessels. This can cause a very serious medical problem for the addict.
Withdrawal Symptoms and Treatment
When an addict goes for a period of time without the drug, he may experience very intense symptoms of withdrawal. He may feel anxious, irritable, apathy, exhaustion, and insomnia. The cravings may become more intense with the passing of time. The addict can overcome his addiction by going through detox and rehabilitation from one of the many professional drug treatment programs.