How to Recognize When a Loved One Has a Cocaine Addiction
The highest rate of cocaine addiction is in young adults, ages 18 to 25. Though it’s difficult to get an accurate count, most estimates of cocaine use in the United States report more than 600,000 addicts. The symptoms of cocaine addiction fall into two broad categories: physical and social or emotional.
Since cocaine is a stimulant, immediate physical effects include fast breathing, bloodshot eyes with dilated pupils, elevated body temperature, chills, tremors and hyperactivity. Blood pressure rises because the drug causes the coronary arteries to constrict. The diminished blood supply to the heart can cause heart attacks or convulsions. Over time, other physical symptoms appear, such as a constantly runny nose, nosebleeds, loss of appetite with concomitant weight loss, and increased vulnerability to colds and other illness.
Emotional and Social Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction
The emotional and social symptoms of cocaine addiction can be equally apparent. A primary symptom is periods of extreme energy followed by prolonged, excessive sleeping. The addict loses interest in normal activities, becoming withdrawn and depressed. Erratic behavior, including bouts of rapid talking and irritability are common. These psychological issues can lead to paranoia, auditory hallucinations and thoughts or threats of suicide.
Isolation is one of the most common social symptoms. Addicts tend to distance themselves from family and their usual friends. It may become difficult for an addict to hold a job, partly because of frequent absences due to the physical strain and partly because relationships become problematic. Even with a job, however, an addict may be constantly in need of more money in order to support his or her habit. This often leads to stealing. Thefts are generally committed first against the family, but may soon turn to robbery, assault and other criminal behavior.
If you recognize these symptoms in someone you care about, consider contacting an intervention specialist. You’ll find a list of resources on our home page, under “Key Links.”