What Is a Cocaine Addict?

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What comes to your mind when you hear the term addict? Possibly it is a picture of someone who has lost everything due to their substance use. Maybe, you think of someone who has overcome a life controlling substance use issue. Regardless of preconceived ideas, the term addict is used to describe a wide variety of individuals who each have their own unique story and history with alcohol and drugs. One specific term that is used regularly for those whose substance use consists primarily of cocaine is the term cocaine addict. Throughout this article information will be provided to give a full picture of what this term means and most importantly, how you will know if you or someone around you may be categorized by this term.

Cocaine and other drugs often become a major part of someone’s life without them realizing. If you or someone you love finds yourself in the midst of a struggle with substance use issues, there is hope. Guardian Recovery is available to provide information, expertise, and, most importantly, help. Reach out today and have one of our admissions specialists guide you or a loved one on the path toward recovery as smoothly and comfortably as possible.

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Is There a Difference Between Cocaine Use, Dependence, & Addiction?

Though the life path of each person with a substance use disorder is extremely unique, there are often similarities that can emerge and serve as warnings of potential progression of a substance use disorder (1). The three categories that you may be able to divide someones cocaine use into are:

  • Use — This is a general term to describe anyone who uses cocaine with some level of frequency, but may or may not have a substance use disorder. The physical, mental, and social signs of their disorder may not be prevalent at this stage and therefore leaves a large amount of variability within this category.
  • Dependence — After a person’s cocaine use has progressed, a dependence on the substance begins to become apparent. Though it still may not be obvious to those around them, the cocaine user will begin to notice an inability to function in their daily life without the use of cocaine. Physical symptoms (2) begin to emerge if the user stops taking cocaine such as anxiety, restlessness, or sweating.

Addiction — The most severe of the stages of the cocaine use disorder is what many would refer to as the addiction stage. At this stage, the user’s cocaine use begins to affect all areas of their life. They find themselves focusing the majority of their daily attention and effort towards their substance of choice. Their physical, mental, and social lives are all impacted and many times outside intervention is required.

How Soon Can Someone Using Cocaine Become Addicted?

One of the most difficult factors when addressing substance use disorders, is the variability in which the user becomes addicted. Though the first use may lead to further addictive patterns, there is no clear formula for making this distinction for every user. Some factors that can influence (1) the possibility of further substance use issues are:

  • Biology — A person’s genetic makeup can predispose them towards further substance use. Though many who are biologically predisposed to substance use are able to continue their life without a substance use disorder, understanding that this does play a role in the onset and severity of a substance use disorder can help the user develop some understanding.
  • Environment — How a person grows up, especially in the early stages of their childhood, also plays a role in their inclination towards a substance use disorder. Environmental factors such as trauma or abuse, availability of drugs, or limited knowledge of coping skills all present themselves as determinants of the possibility of a substance use disorder.

Development — Similar to the environment, the age in which a person begins to experiment with various substances also presents itself as a factor. With brains that are still developing, children and teenagers beginning to use drugs or alcohol at an early age will also play a role in determining the possibility of a substance use disorder as they get older.

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Visual Signs Someone is Addicted to Cocaine

As a cocaine use disorder progresses, signs will begin to emerge that will become increasingly apparent to those around them.

Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the first symptoms to emerge is the presence of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will only emerge if the substance user has been using frequently enough (2) to become physically dependent on cocaine. These symptoms include shaking, restlessness, and irritability in their mild forms but may lead to increased health risks such as seizures.

Mental Health Issues

With any strong stimulant use like cocaine, the high that the user experiences comes as a result of large amounts of dopamine and other “feel good” chemicals flooding the brain (3). As someone continues to use cocaine, the brain develops trouble regulating these chemicals on its own. This can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

Financial Decline

Cocaine in 2010 was estimated to cost approximately $94 per gram (4). A common amount of cocaine to purchase is 3.5 grams (also known as an 8-ball) costing an estimated $330. As chronic use sets in, it is easy to see how someone with a cocaine use disorder would be impacted financially by this habit. Financial decline can lead to desperation as drug use continues to progress potentially leading to criminal acts or homelessness.

Mood Changes

As brain chemistry is impacted by cocaine use, the ability to regulate mood is a common side effect. Recognizing this change can lead to early recognition of the impact of a substance use disorder.

Decline in Hygiene

As Cocaine use increases, the substance begins to take priority over more and more of the life of the one using. One of the priorities that may be overlooked is overall hygiene. This can lead to feelings of shame or low self worth in the individual and if not addressed can lead to health conditions like infections and tooth loss.

Loss of Weight

An often overlooked effect of cocaine use is the effect that it has on the digestive system. As the substance is ingested, it slows down the blood flow (2) to the intestinal tract causing lack of appetite. Ultimately, this will begin to cause weight loss in the individual that uses cocaine chronically.

Dilated Pupils

As chemicals are released in your brain, one of the involuntary responses (5) to these chemicals is enlarging the pupils. Though there are plenty of other factors that can lead to pupil dilation, a common identifier of someone under the influence of cocaine is the dilation of pupils and their lack of reaction to light.

Nosebleeds

A common physical response to cocaine use is the bleeding of the nose. With blood capillaries located close to the skin’s surface in the nasal cavity, often the trauma of ingesting cocaine through that cavity can cause the nose to begin to bleed.

Side Effects of Cocaine Addiction

Due to its impact on the blood flow within the body, prolonged periods of cocaine use will affect a wide variety of bodily systems. Common side effects of long term chronic cocaine (2) use include:

  • Malnourishment.
  • Brain hemorrhage.
  • Stroke.
  • Heart attack.
  • Movement disorders.
  • Memory loss.

How to Help Someone Addicted to Cocaine

Educating yourself about cocaine use disorders is a great way to provide healthy knowledge and support to a loved one who may be struggling. Guardian Recovery provides a host of articles and insights to allow you to help someone who may be struggling as well as keeping yourself emotionally healthy in the process.

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Individualized Treatment For Cocaine Addiction

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is currently what is most commonly used in the treatment of those struggling with cocaine use disorder. This form of treatment takes place in both inpatient and outpatient settings where the participant meets with a primary clinician as well as taking part in group therapy sessions.

Reaching out for help is a crucial step in the recovery process. If you find yourself in need of treatment for cocaine use or any other substance, there is hope. Guardian Recovery is available. With one simple phone call our admissions coordinators are able to give you the tools and information to begin your journey to freedom. Recovery and hope may simply be one phone call away.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/understanding-drug-use-addiction
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-some-ways-cocaine-changes-brain
  4. https://www.unodc.org/unodc/secured/wdr/Cocaine_Heroin_Prices.pdf
  5. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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