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Early Signs, Symptoms, and Complications of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a highly addictive amphetamine, and around 1.5 million people in the United States will use cocaine in a given month. People between the ages of 18 – 25 have the highest cocaine addiction rates of any age cohort. Roughly half a million people will visit an emergency room this year for cocaine abuse. 

  • Weight loss
  • A runny nose
  • Mood swings
  • Risky Behaviors
  • Boost in confidence
  • Talkative habits
  • White residue on hands, nose, and mouth
  • Secrecy
  • Financial difficulties
  • Burn marks on hands and lips

While cocaine is addictive, its derivative, crack cocaine, is worse. Crack is made by combining powder cocaine with water and baking soda. It is boiled down into a solid, and once cooled, is broken in pieces and sold as crack. This highly concentrated form of cocaine is cheaper than cocaine and more addictive. Some people will become addicted to crack after the first hit.

Also, cocaine and crack differ in the manner in which they are consumed. While cocaine is snorted in its powder form, crack is smoked. It gets its name from the sound it makes when it is heated in a pipe.

Because crack is highly concentrated cocaine and much cheaper, it’s harder for people to quit. Many people who start out with a cocaine habit will switch to crack as a cheaper alternative to getting high. Also, crack’s effects, while intense, don’t last as long as cocaine. Thus, it’s more psychologically addictive. Crack is considered much more harmful than cocaine and is the second most addictive drug on the market. Heroin is the most addictive and detrimental street drug.

What is the timeline for cocaine withdrawal?

Cocaine withdrawal does not include physical symptoms, such as those present with heroin-like nausea and vomiting. For cocaine, symptoms tend to peak within one week, and intense withdrawal symptoms can last for several months. Furthermore, depression and cravings for cocaine can be long-lasting and deeply entrenched. It is in the abuser’s best interest to seek treatment for cocaine withdrawal so they can be adequately monitored for depression by supportive and trained medical staff.

Cocaine withdrawal includes three distinct phases.

Phase one is the ‘crash’ stage, where the person begins to feel the symptoms within as little as a few hours after last use to several days after last use. During this phase, the following symptoms are present:

  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleeping
  • No cravings to use
  • Mild sadness
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Restlessness and agitation.

During the peak withdrawal phase, between 1 and ten weeks after last use, the individual will feel the following symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Problems regulating emotions
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Problems concentrating or remembering things

This is when the risk of relapse is at its highest. The intense, emotional symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can prove unbearable for the individual. To minimize the risk of relapse or the self-harm inherent in untreated depression, users would be safer and have a higher chance of a successful recovery in a rehab center.

The third phase of cocaine withdrawal, what is known as the extinction phase, can last for several months. Some addicts report an extinction phase to last for as long as 28 weeks. During this time, users need proper monitoring and help to prevent a relapse or a suicide attempt. Clinical depression, occasional cravings, and lingering concentration and memory problems can make life difficult for those in recovery. But, including required, pre-scheduled therapy sessions within an ongoing maintenance plan can help recovering addicts manage their depression and drug cravings.

Another danger lurking in the shadows of cocaine addiction is the tendency to mix the drug with alcohol. This is incredibly risky because the two substances have entirely different effects on the body. Alcohol and cocaine act in tandem to blunt the impact of each other. The user is unable to assess how drunk or high they are.

Furthermore, when alcohol and cocaine are metabolized in the liver, the liver produces an enzyme – cocaethylene. This enzyme is far more toxic than cocaine, and the risk of sudden death when mixing alcohol and cocaine is 20 times more likely than if someone took cocaine by itself. Also, people who combine alcohol and cocaine have been known to become violent. The risk of traumatic injury is much higher when imbibing in these two substances simultaneously.

Because of its emotionally painful, and long-lasting withdrawal symptoms, addicts are better equipped to end their cocaine addiction with the help of a medical detox facility and inpatient rehab.

Early Signs of Cocaine Addiction

The abuse of cocaine is not without its consequences. Often parents, spouses, employers—or other people who care about a man’s cocaine use—want to know what symptoms and signs they should look for. Fortunately, there are things you can become aware of to know if there is indeed a problem.

Some of the early signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Cocaine is expensive. Look to the books to see how fast a person is going through cash.
  • Changes in behavior — exaggerated efforts to bar family members or friends from entering his room or being secretive about where he goes. Look also for drastic changes in behavior.
  • Excessive exhilaration and a show of unrealistic confidence
  • Increased alertness to the point of insomnia.
  • Rapid or rambling speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Irritability or changes in mood
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Nasal congestion and damage to the mucous membrane of the nose (if snorting cocaine)

Complications and Side Effects of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine abuse is inherently dangerous. Since it’s an illegal drug, an abuser often doesn’t know the dose, source, or if even it’s cocaine they are snorting or injecting. Just as often, dealers contribute additives like allergy medicine to increase their profit margins.

Complications of cocaine abuse are many and varied. Sometimes, it depends on the manner a person is consuming the drug. Complications such as the loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and difficulties swallowing may occur in some people who snort cocaine. For those injecting, a higher risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C is a possibility. Other long-term effects of cocaine use include malnourishment because cocaine decreases appetite. Even disorders like Parkinson’s disease can be one long-term consequence.

Thankfully, Windward Way’s clinically supervised cocaine detox center and drug rehab can give you exactly the help you’re looking for. Since our highly trained intake counselors are around 24/7, there’s no excuse not to call 855-491-7694. We want to help you. We can help you. Rediscover yourself, the Windward Way.

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