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Like any other illicit drug, cocaine has a number of physical and emotional effects on a person. Knowing what the physical indicators of cocaine addiction are can help an individual identify if a loved one is abusing the substance. Combining this knowledge of the physical signs along with the knowledge of what cocaine is can help a person have a meaningful intervention on their loved ones.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is one of many illegal stimulant drugs available worldwide. This drug comes from the coca plant, which is native to South America. Usually, cocaine takes the form of a fine, white powder. However, this appearance is often problematic since it allows dealers to mix other substances in with it – sometimes weakening the drug and other times strengthening it. When not in powder form, cocaine typically takes the form of a crystal-like rock known as crack cocaine or crack.

The Effects of Cocaine 

Cocaine has a variety of effects and side effects on the brain and body. As a stimulant, cocaine speeds up functions and reactions in the brain when it is consumed. This leads to several effects, including heightened sensitivity, energy, and alertness. Cocaine also causes a release of dopamine in the brain, which creates feelings of immense happiness in a user. However, none of the effects last long. Usually a “high” from cocaine lasts for about 15 to 30 minutes, but it can also disappear in minutes or last as long as an hour.   

Consequences of Cocaine Addiction

Abusing cocaine can lead to numerous negative effects on a person’s health and daily life. For many, cocaine addiction has a significant and negative effect on their relationships, hobbies, occupation, finances, and education. These effects inevitably vary from person to person. However, almost every person who lives with a cocaine addiction will face serious side effects on their health and wellness. These effects can manifest in both the short-term and the long-term when consuming cocaine.  

Short-Term Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse

The short-term side effects of cocaine abuse vary from person to person but often include:

  • Constricted blood vessels 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Raised body temperature
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Quick or irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors or muscle twitches
  • Restlessness 

Long-Term Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse 

As alarming as the short-term effects of cocaine addiction can be, the long-term effects can be even more damaging to a person’s health and well-being. These effects include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Paranoia
  • Malnourishment
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Weakened immune system
  • Movement disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease)
  • Bloodborne diseases
  • Permanent changes to heart rhythm
  • Stroke 
  • Heart Attack
  • Overdose (possibly resulting in coma or death)

Cocaine Addiction and the Brain 

Sadly, one of the most serious side effects of cocaine abuse and addiction occurs in the brain. Almost always, the repeated consumption of cocaine damages the brain’s reward system. In doing so, the brain is forced to adapt, making a person more likely to engage in addictive behavior. Essentially, an addictive substance like cocaine rewires the brain to become easily addicted to immediate, repeatable pleasures.   

Physical Indicators of Cocaine Addiction

The effects of cocaine addiction on an individual’s physical appearance can vary, but there will always be some physical indicators. Learning about the physical indicators of cocaine addiction can help a person identify if someone, especially a loved one, may be living with a cocaine addiction. These are the physical signs to look for: 

Dilated Pupils

Although the signs may be subtle, a person’s eyes can indicate more than many people realize, especially their pupils. The pupils in a person’s eyes will react differently to a number of situations but also to most illegal drugs. When consuming cocaine, a person’s eyes will often dilate. This means that the pupil – the black center of the eye – will become larger than normal. However, cocaine or crack cocaine can also cause a person’s eyes to turn red. Observing frequent changes in pupil size and redness can be one of the physical signs of cocaine addiction. 

Runny or Bloody Nose

Snorting cocaine can cause a number of problems with a person’s sinuses. After repeated consumption, it can lead to a runny or bloody nose. Since most cocaine users snort the substance, a runny or bloody nose is often a common physical indicator of cocaine abuse or addiction. 

Social Isolation

Oftentimes, drug abuse is a secret. Those living with an addiction fear the consequences or shame from their friends and family, so they consume a substance like cocaine in private. However, this often leads many to isolate more frequently than usual, especially when repeatedly consuming a drug. Therefore, a person physically isolating themselves from loved ones is usually another indicator of cocaine addiction.  

Weight Loss

Another common physical indicator of cocaine addiction is weight loss. This is because cocaine causes a loss of appetite for its consumer. By consuming cocaine regularly, a person begins to lose their appetite more frequently, resulting in weight loss and malnourishment in cases of long-term cocaine addiction.  

Lack of General Hygiene 

For many individuals living with any kind of addiction, the substance they are addicted to becomes the primary focus of their life. This often, but not always, leads to a lack of general hygiene. However, for some, it may be more dramatic than others. It can be helpful to observe whether or not a person appears to be bathing, brushing their hair, washing and changing their clothes, and more. These physical signs can help identify if a person is in need of assistance with an addiction or some other serious issue. 

Effectively Treating Cocaine Addiction

Suspecting a loved one of living with a cocaine addiction can be challenging, but by learning the physical indicators of cocaine addiction, you can learn what to look for before approaching them about the issue. If a loved one is living with a cocaine addiction, help is available. At Knoxville Recovery Center, our team of addiction specialists offer several treatments and therapies to help a person become sober and remain sober. Contact us today for more information!  

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