A 2022 study reveals the shocking figure of around 25 million cocaine addicts across the globe. In 2021, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated in its report that drug overdose was the cause of death of more than 100,000 people in the United States.
Cocaine, which was once used as a local anesthetic in medical procedures and an anti-depressant, is now labeled as an illegal drug due to its highly addictive and destructive nature. A New York drug rehab center sees a swarm of cocaine addicts enter the center for a rehabilitation program.
Biggest danger of cocaine use
Overdose is one of the biggest dangers of using cocaine. According to experts, overdose can happen in the first use itself or at any time. Even the most ‘seasoned’ cocaine users may overdose. Sometimes, it is intentional (the overdose), while at other times, it can be accidental.
The latter can happen when a user does not know that his/her cocaine contains other dangerous substances, such as fentanyl. Some users may combine cocaine with alcohol, which is a deadly combination. They may not know this and succumb to the combo.
Combining cocaine and heroin is another lethal combo. So is taking cocaine with medication. Also, many users take cocaine in extremely hot weather, which is dangerous, as it can dehydrate the body and cause life-threatening symptoms. When a first-time user of cocaine takes more of the drug than the body can handle, he/she can fall seriously ill.
Becoming an addict
According to many experts, cocaine addiction often happens unintentionally. “Because the drug is so addictive and makes you feel so nice that you strongly desire it again and again,” says one of the experts at the rehab center in New York. “It is almost impossible to have cocaine just once and then forget about it.”
People snort cocaine, smoke it, inject it, and some even rub it over their gums. The rock form of cocaine called crack is usually smoked via a pipe or cigarette. The popular names of cocaine are coke, blow, coca, and snow.
How cocaine changes a person
This drug, which is extracted from coca plant leaves, carries the malicious power of changing an individual’s personality. Families who have addicts in their homes know this well. Their loved one displays such a drastic change in behavior and personality that they often wonder, is it the same person?
Addiction to cocaine can destroy the person’s personal, professional, and social life, plus his/her physical and mental health.
Behavioral changes in a cocaine addict:
- Behaving in a suspicious/secretive manner
- Becoming violent or aggressive quickly
- Indulging in risky and reckless behaviors that normally a person would not do
- Shirking from responsibilities
- Missing school or work
- Not showing interest in normal activities, hobbies, or activities that the person once liked
- Often behaving in an unpredictable manner and/or weird manner
- Indulging in anti-social acts and/or criminal acts
It is hard for a family to accept that their loved one is a cocaine addict. If you observe any such behavior in the person, you must call the addiction hotline. These are a few of the troubling signs that indicate your loved one might be on drugs such as cocaine.
Some other signs include:
- Staying in an elated state for no particular reason
- Showing excessive confidence
- Extreme mood swings
- Getting irritated or angry all of a sudden and on trivial matters
- Showing restless behavior
- Feeling unexplained anxiety, fear, or paranoia
- Highly energetic at one time (when on high) and then becoming depressed at another time (when the effect of cocaine wears off)
- Not being able to concentrate or make proper decisions and judgments, feeling kind of lost in some other world
The above signs are easy to catch in a person. You can instantly sense something is wrong or abnormal with the person. “He/she is not what he/she used to be,” is the common statement given by families or friends of cocaine addicts.
It’s more or less true. Cocaine kind of snatches the true you. The drug makes the brain secrete dopamine (the happy hormone) in excessive amounts. This makes the person feel euphoria. It is not real happiness. But the brain does not know and craves for it more. Regular cocaine use can alter the chemistry of the brain. You can say, it ‘rewires’ the brain, and that’s why the person shows altered personality, behavior, and thinking patterns.
Physical signs of cocaine use:
- Ill-groomed personality and poor personal hygiene
- High body temperature
- Dilated pupils and bloodshot eyes
- Blabbering unnecessarily
- Increased heart rate
- Change in appetite
- Twitches or tremors in muscles
- Hypersensitive to touch, sound, and light
It is disheartening to see your loved ones in such a state, but do not lose hope. Please do not attempt to handle an addict on your own. First, they won’t listen to you or even deny being addicted to cocaine. Second, they may become aggressive or violent when you confront them with the addiction.
It is better to let experts handle the situation.
Signs of cocaine intoxication/overdose
- Extreme euphoric state
- Heightened anxiety or confusion
- Rambled speech
- Dilated pupils that stay dilated even when light is shone upon the eyes
- High blood pressure
- Irregular or increased heartbeat
- Tremors in muscles of the face and fingers (usually)
- Agitated or restless behavior
- Incontinence (loss of control of bladder)
- Rapid breathing or restricted breathing
- Bluish skin or very pale skin
- Not aware of the surroundings
These are signs that the person is in danger. You must not delay. Either calls a doctor fast or let the rehab specialists deal with the situation right away.
Severe cocaine intoxication can lead to:
- Kidney failure
- Heart malfunctioning
- Decreased cognitive ability
- Severe muscular atrophy that can lead to amputation
It is possible to go off cocaine. Support from family and friends combined with a proper rehab programs such as the one in New York can give an addict a new lease on life. So, never lose hope in an addict.