What Are the Signs, Symptoms, and Risks of Cocaine Addiction?

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See how recreational use and addiction walk a fine line.

Even though cocaine use is often glamorized on television and in movies, it’s a dangerous and extremely addictive drug. Cocaine is typically used as a recreational drug in the beginning, because of the energetic and euphoric feeling it creates in users. Despite the fact that the risks of using cocaine are generally recognized, it’s still one of the most commonly used illegal drugs, and addiction to it is often treated in cocaine rehabilitation centers around the country.

Cocaine users are at risk of becoming addicted to the drug quickly, sometimes after only one use. Addiction is not the only risk of cocaine use, it can also damage users’ bodies in various and serious ways. The dangers of cocaine abuse and addiction can be severe, even up to death.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse and addiction to be able to identify whether a friend or family member is struggling and needs help at a cocaine rehabilitation center.

Some of the typical warning signs of cocaine abuse are:

  • Seeming more agitated or irritable
  • Over-the-top enthusiasm
  • Disinhibition
  • Paranoia or increased anxiety
  • Hyperactivity or being unable to be still
  • Increased cold-like symptoms, including nosebleeds
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Changes in focus or concentration

Risks of Cocaine Abuse

One major risk of cocaine addiction is severe paranoia, which can quickly escalate to a state of psychosis. When people suffer from paranoid psychosis, they lose their grasp on reality and may have auditory hallucinations, which may cause them to descend into angry and sometimes violent rages, making them a danger to everyone around them.

The risk of overdose is high for cocaine users. It happens because the drug affects the brain’s pleasure center very quickly and the euphoric high is often very intense. But, these feelings are short-lived, which may prompt users to binge and use more of the drug, more frequently, in a shorter period of time.

Regardless of how cocaine is used, or how often it is used, users may experience a stroke or heart attack, even when it is the first time they have used the drug.

Other significant health conditions that may occur due to cocaine use include:

  • Damage to the heart muscle that can cause arrhythmias and heart attack
  • Respiratory issues that can lead to respiratory arrest
  • Strokes
  • Digestive issues
  • Contracting hepatitis, HIV, or other diseases (when the drug is injected with shared needles)
  • Skin issues or infections
  • Damage to the nasal cavity
  • Serious allergic reactions

Cocaine Abuse Affects the Brain

Cocaine abuse can also have long-term negative effects on the brain. Cocaine is a stimulant that raises the release of the pleasure causing brain chemicals, including dopamine, which results in euphoric feelings.

When someone uses cocaine over time, it can result in a significant change in the brain’s reward system. Tolerance to the drug is increased, which means that users have to use more of the drug to experience the same effects that were produced when they began using. This increase in amount or frequency can cause unpredictable or unusual behavior. Over time, cocaine use can cause negative physiological and psychological effects, some of which are irreversible.

Finding Help for Cocaine Addiction

Fortunately, cocaine addiction is treatable. The sooner help is sought at a cocaine addiction center, the less likely a person is to suffer serious side effects. Treatment that is received in cocaine addiction treatment centers helps individuals cope with withdrawal and cravings and help them reestablish drug-free lives.