Understanding The Risks and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Questions on whether cocaine is really an addictive drug are heard from time to time. Although it’s always been known to cause psychological dependence in the form of insistent cravings, its physical withdrawal symptoms are often mild compared to those of other drugs. A person in cocaine detox may experience fatigue and increased appetite, but rarely the severe nausea, violent tremors, heavy perspiration or disruption to vital functions that frequently occur when detoxing from opiates or alcohol.

What does lead most experts to classify cocaine with the addictive drugs are the psychological withdrawal symptoms. Regular users whose supply is cut off experience desperate cravings for more, which frequently morph into severe agitation, paranoia, depression, violence toward others or attempts to commit suicide. Occasionally, someone will experience a seizure or (especially if they also have problems with alcohol) a heart attack. If addiction means desperation to keep taking a substance even when it’s obviously doing harm, and finding stopping to be an unpleasant-all-over experience, cocaine is indeed an addictive drug.

Here are some other things worth knowing about cocaine addiction:

  1. Frequent users are likely to build up tolerance.

Still another indicator that cocaine is addictive is that after it’s used regularly for a long period, larger doses are required to achieve the desired effect-in fact, many people diagnosed with addiction say that the sheer euphoria of early experiences soon becomes impossible to achieve again. The dangers of trying to take “enough” for the desired effect are well known in the world of drug abuse; cocaine overdose kills 4,000-7,500 people a year in the United States. Complicating things further, regular users risk developing “sensitization,” a greater proneness to negative effects such as panic attacks, paranoia or even convulsions.

  1. Cocaine is particularly bad for your heart.

Long before cocaine was implemented in the 2016 heart-failure death of actress and mental-health advocate Carrie Fisher, many researchers had dubbed it “the perfect heart attack drug” because even occasional users were found to have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries and thicker heart muscle than nonusers. The risk is obviously greatest with those who use the drug to the point of addiction, and unless someone has regular physicals, increased heart-attack risk often goes unsuspected until too late.

  1. Possible long-term negative health effects of cocaine addiction include frequent nosebleeds, chronic hoarseness, asthma, ulcers, malnourishment, insomnia, stroke, lung damage, loss of memory, loss of decision-making skills, chronic impulsiveness, cerebral hemorrhage and Parkinson’s disease.

If the heart-trouble risk were discounted completely, cocaine users would still have plenty to worry about.

  1. Cocaine addiction manifests both psychological and physical symptoms.

Psychological symptoms include:

  • Proneness to agitation-getting excited easily, becoming unusually talkative, losing one’s temper over small issues-or, conversely, seeming extremely happy without obvious cause
  • Reckless, overconfident behavior
  • Being suspicious of others without cause
  • Experiencing delusions and hallucinations
  • Periodically becoming depressed or apathetic

Physical symptoms include:

  • Change in sleep patterns (a person under the influence of cocaine is likely to sleep poorly or not at all for a day or two due to the drug’s stimulant effect, then sleep for long stretches as the effect wears off)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Bleeding or runny nose
  • Impaired sense of smell
  • Muscle twitches
  • Frequent headaches
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sensitivity to light

If you or someone you’re close to exhibits these symptoms along with frequent cocaine use, look into cocaine addiction rehab options immediately. Don’t delay or make excuses: the addiction and the risk of overdose will only get worse.

  1. Cocaine overdose kills by raising heart rate, blood pressure and/or body temperature.

When the physical system is exposed to the overstimulating effect of too much cocaine, vital functions shift into overdrive, sometimes burning themselves out in the process. Call 911 immediately and report a suspected cocaine overdose if someone exhibits any of the following symptoms after taking the drug:

  • Violently hammering heart or irregular heartbeat
  • Excessive rise in body temperature
  • Severe nausea
  • Violent tremors or seizure
  • Extreme confusion
  • Irrational, violent behavior

Stay close to the overdose victim until professional help arrives. If you can, persuade the person to remain calm, keep still and apply cold compresses to avoid further rise in body temperature or heart rate. If they seem paranoid or psychotic, however, be careful to protect yourself-people in the throes of cocaine overdose may lose all rationality and attack anyone who tries to restrain them, perhaps inflicting severe injury or death.

  1. Medical treatment for cocaine overdose requires hospitalization.

Besides being calmed down and treated for immediate physical effects, a cocaine-overdose patient needs to be evaluated for heart complications, kidney or liver damage, low blood sugar and brain damage. Antianxiety medications or other sedatives may be administered, and a saline IV used to lower body temperature. The patient may also begin detox for addiction, followed by a referral to one or more cocaine rehab centers after being stabilized. Don’t ever brush off medical advice to get addiction treatment, even if you think the overdose was a fluke. Any use of drugs apart from medical advice is an indicator of possible trouble in the making.

  1. With or without a precipitating overdose experience, professional cocaine addiction rehab is the only safe form of detox.

Although it’s very rare to experience life-threatening physical symptoms during cocaine detox, it’s not impossible. The primary risk, though, is that detoxers will become irrational, paranoid or suicidal, presenting serious danger to themselves or others. Professional cocaine rehab centers will observe you carefully throughout detox to protect you from hurting yourself. Be prepared to experience high stress, cravings, mood swings and perhaps nightmares. Tell your care providers of any specific problems you’ve had from addiction, so they’ll know what to watch for.

Professional rehab, which typically lasts up to three months, will also help you adjust to life without cocaine and prepare to re-enter your everyday world. If you have any psychiatric illnesses or additional drug problems, or if the addiction has done physical damage requiring medical treatment, the detox center may provide this additional treatment onsite: if not, they’ll help you find options, plus a support group for long-term recovery. Periodic cocaine cravings may continue to surface for six months or more, so keep support contact information close by just in case.

If you have any cause to suspect you might have an addiction, get medical advice and detox referrals today! Cocaine has been called the “rich man’s drug,” but the physical harm it does is no respecter of persons.

If you or a loved one are ready to detox from cocaine and begin a better life, Inland Detox may be the rehab provider for you. Please call (888) 739-8296 today.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.