Pathways Wellness

What Are 5 Signs Somebody Is Using Cocaine?

What Are 5 Signs Somebody Is Using Cocaine?
Raul Haro
December 6, 2023
For those who are using cocaine, it can feel like being trapped in a spiral. Some try to quit using cocaine on their own but are overwhelmed by the intense withdrawal symptoms. It can be frustrating and demoralizing, both for the person using cocaine and loved ones who watch them do so. Cocaine can lead […]
CALL (949) 383-6197
What Are 5 Signs Somebody Is Using Cocaine?

For those who are using cocaine, it can feel like being trapped in a spiral. Some try to quit using cocaine on their own but are overwhelmed by the intense withdrawal symptoms. It can be frustrating and demoralizing, both for the person using cocaine and loved ones who watch them do so. Cocaine can lead to several health problems, ruin relationships, and cause harm to others. It not only harms individuals but also the community around them. Where cocaine is, there is sure to be pain and struggle.

That's why it's so important for those using cocaine to seek help as soon as possible. The longer someone uses cocaine, the more likely they are to experience serious and sometimes even deadly consequences. It's especially vital for those who detect that a loved one is using cocaine to guide them into getting help. Cocaine is rough on the body, and the faster help is received, the less time someone has to spend recovering from their addiction

At Pathways Wellness Center, people can find help for their cocaine addiction. With compassionate and professional staff, we aim to make Pathways Wellness Center a safe and supportive place for clients to recover. Our high-quality intensive outpatient program (IOP) and partial hospitalization program (PHP) means that everyone can find a treatment plan right for them. Not only is it a place for people to recover from using cocaine, but it also offers education on cocaine use recognition. Those who are worried about a loved one or those currently using cocaine can contact Pathways Wellness Center for help.

But what exactly is cocaine? What does it do to a body? How can someone recognize when someone is using cocaine? These are all important questions that are important for everyone to know, not just those currently struggling with addiction. The more a population is educated about cocaine use, the more likely people will seek help and recover. Education reduces stigma, which, in turn, makes for a more compassionate and healthy society.

The Facts About Cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that originates from the coca leaves (Erythroxylon coca), a plant indigenous to South America. It has been used for thousands of years as a stimulant for South America's native people. When purified, it makes the chemical cocaine hydrochloride. This chemical has been and continues to be used medicinally as a form of pain relief and anesthesia. Currently, it's mainly used for local anesthesia for some delicate surgeries, such as the eyes, ears, and throat. Despite its medical uses, cocaine hydrochloride is highly addictive, and thus strictly controlled.

Cocaine can be broken down into two forms, each differing in how it is consumed. First is a water-soluble hydrochloride salt that is consumed by snorting through the nose or injecting into the body with a hypodermic needle. The second is a water-insoluble cocaine base (or freebase) that is processed until it can be smoked. This substance is also known as "crack" or “crack cocaine.” Cocaine, regardless of its type, can cause both short-term and long-term effects on the brain and body. 

In the short term, cocaine causes a person to experience euphoria, a type of “feel good” pleasure. Those using cocaine also experience a jolt of energy and alertness, as it is a stimulant. People may also start to talk a lot or not eat, drink, or sleep for some time. It can also cause short-term physical and psychological effects on a person, some of which include:

  • Feelings of anxiety, dizziness, paranoia, and restlessness
  • Irritability that can progress to volatile or violent behavior
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, and muscle tremors
  • Increased sensitivity to touch, sights, and sounds
  • High heart rate, increased body temperature, and increased blood pressure

The long-term effects are a little different but still quite serious. Some of these effects are dependent on the way the drug is consumed. Regardless of how it is consumed, cocaine use runs the risk of an overdose. An overdose can be fatal if not treated quickly. Examples of different symptoms depending on different consumption methods are:

  • Snorting: Loss of sense of smell, nose bleeds, permanent damage to the nasal septum, and chronic sinus inflammation and infections
  • Smoking: Chronic coughing, increased risk of lung infections, permanent lung damage, and trouble breathing
  • Injecting: Skin and soft tissue infection, blood clots, scarring or collapsed veins, and increased risk of blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis C and HIV

How Do I Know if Someone Is Using Cocaine?

When using cocaine, a person increases their risk of fatal complications, including an overdose. It's a dangerous enough drug that only using it once can cause someone to have a heart attack, stroke, or seizure. In severe cases, a person can fall into a coma. That's why it's important to get help right away, as continued cocaine use increases the risk of these complications.

There are signs of cocaine use that can alert someone that a loved one is using cocaine. Some are physical and behavioral symptoms, that alter a person's health and actions. There is also the use and possession of paraphernalia, which are tools used to consume, process, or prepare drugs. Those using cocaine also display financial and social signs, some of which can be drastic and alarming. Finally, people need to be aware of the psychological and cognitive symptoms of cocaine use. If someone is displaying the numerous amount of symptoms listed below, they may be using cocaine and need help.

#1. The Physical Signs of Using Cocaine

Cocaine leaves a physical mark on a person's body and health. The five common physical signs of cocaine use are:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Frequent nosebleeds or runny nose; in long-term use, the nose may be damaged around the septum
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns, including insomnia and loss of appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Tremors or muscle twitching

#2. The Behavioral Signs of Using Cocaine

Cocaine not only is a stimulant, but it alters someone's thinking patterns and impairs judgment. The five common behavioral signs of cocaine use are: 

  • Increased energy and hyperactivity
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Overconfidence or grandiosity
  • Risky behaviors or increased impulsivity
  • Paranoid thoughts or extreme agitation

#3. Paraphernalia Associated With Cocaine Use

When someone is using cocaine, they need tools so they can consume it. The five most common tools used to consume and store cocaine are: 

  • Small plastic bags or tiny containers
  • Mirrors, razor blades, or card-like items for preparing the drug for consumption
  • Short straws or rolled paper for snorting
  • Burned spoons or makeshift pipes for smoking
  • Hypodermic needles, especially when someone doesn't have a legitimate use for them (such as a diabetic needing needles to administer insulin)

#4. The Financial and Social Impact of Using Cocaine

When someone is using and addicted to cocaine, it can take over their entire world. This can have serious consequences on someone's financial stability and social interactions. The five common signs that someone is buying and using cocaine are: 

  • Drastic changes in spending habits or frequent money troubles
  • New social circles or avoidance of previous friends and family
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or activities once enjoyed
  • Missing work, school, or other obligations without explanation
  • Running into troubles with the law, such as theft, selling/buying drugs, or being publicly intoxicated

#5. Psychological and Cognitive Effects

Lastly, there are effects that cocaine can have on someone's cognitive ability and psyche. Sometimes these symptoms can improve after someone detoxes from cocaine. However, some can experience symptoms that can last for a long time, even after detoxing. Five common psychological and cognitive effects of using cocaine are:

  • Inability to concentrate or frequent forgetfulness
  • Increased anxiety, paranoia, or hallucinations
  • Irrational fears or suspicions
  • Emotional detachment or numbness
  • Depression or suicidal ideation 

How to Respond to the Signs of Cocaine Use

Once someone recognizes that a loved one is using cocaine, they must act quickly. However, there is a particular way to go about seeking help for an individual that is most likely to make them agreeable to help. The last thing a person should do is go into a discussion full of anger and blame, as that will cause someone to shut down or deny they need help. It can be difficult to remain calm and collected, especially if someone has been harmed by the person using cocaine. Thankfully, there are tips that one can use to help the conversation go as smoothly as possible. 

First, a person should approach their loved one with concern. This conversation is not a confrontation, it's an intervention. An intervention is when one or more people get together to tell an individual that they need help. Interventions can be for many reasons, but it's most commonly used to convince a loved one to seek addiction treatment. It's important to listen and show empathy and compassion to the individual who is struggling. A person can know they are loved but also be told that their behavior is worrisome. Let them know that they will receive support in getting help and that their loved ones care about them.

Interventions don't have to be done alone. They can be put together and overseen by a mental health care professional. Speaking to a mental health care professional before an intervention can help loved ones gather their thoughts together and make a plan. For example, a person is more likely to seek help if they also get information about treatment. A mental health care professional can sit in these interventions, allowing everyone a chance to voice their thoughts and prevent people from talking over each other. These professionals are highly trained, but they cannot force someone into treatment. For those who wish to utilize an intervention, Pathways Wellness Center can help put one together as part of their regular services. 

It's also important to remember the power of a support system and network. Those using cocaine who feel alone will usually not seek help, as they have no support or no drive to recover on their own. This changes when someone knows that they are loved and cared for. When family and peers get involved, someone is more likely to recover from addiction because they have reasons to do so. It's easy to ignore problems when it's just a person by themselves. When they have a whole team of people cheering them on, they can't help but become inspired to make a positive and permanent change.  

The Road to Recovery With Pathways Wellness Center

Anyone can recover from cocaine addiction with the right amount of support, quality treatment, time, and personal willingness to overcome addiction. At Pathways Wellness Center, clients have access not only to support but quality treatment provided by highly-trained mental health care professionals. Pathway Wellness Center is an outpatient addiction treatment facility. This means clients come to the facility for treatment and then go home at the end of the day. Intensive outpatient (IOP) and partial hospitalization (PHP) programs are the two treatment options clients can receive. 

In terms of differences, PHPs have treatments that take up several hours of the day, five days a week. It is most suitable for those who still find it difficult to manage their daily life due to their mental health and addiction. IOPs meet for only a few hours a day a few times a week. This program is most suited for those who are transitioning back to normal life,  but still need support and treatment. It's common for those with serious addictions, such as cocaine addictions, to first start in a residential treatment program to fully detox. After, they enroll in a PHP at places like Pathways Wellness Center, and gradually transition to an IOP once they improve. 

Regardless of the treatment program, clients receive comprehensive and scientifically backed holistic treatments. This is when someone's mind, body, and spirit are cared for as part of treatment. Some common examples of such treatments are yoga, adventure therapy, and art therapy. Pathway Wellness Center also offers more conventional forms of therapy and treatment, such as psychotherapy and medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Not everyone will need all the therapies and treatments offered. Instead, each receives a personalized treatment plan designed to help them recover fully.

Pathways Wellness Center also is at the center of a thriving recovery and sober community in Glendora, California. With emphasis placed on peer networking, family therapy, and mentorship, clients can not only repair relationships but build new ones. Support is vital to a successful recovery as well as education. Care is taken to educate clients on important life skills, such as relapse prevention and self-care. Pathways Wellness Center is also involved with spreading addiction awareness, which educates families and de-stigmatizes mental health care for all. 

What’s Next?

For those who are using cocaine or know someone who is, it's important to get help right away. The faster help is received, the less likely a life will be lost. Cocaine is highly dangerous and it is not an addiction that should be ignored. It will not go away on its own and requires specialized treatment to recover from. That's why it's vital to contact Pathways Wellness Center or another addiction treatment facility today. 

It's normal to be nervous when reaching out for help. Asking for help is perhaps one of the most challenging things a person can do. Pathways Wellness Center, however, does its best to make the process as smooth and painless as possible. It's perfectly acceptable to call to ask questions. No mental health care professional will ever berate or be annoyed at someone for asking a question. Common questions asked to staff at Pathways Wellness Center are general information about addictive drugs, what treatments they offer, and how best to convince a loved one to seek help. If they cannot answer a question, they will point the one who asked to resources that can answer their question. 

Cocaine addiction affects many people from all walks of life, but there is hope as people can and do recover from it. Recovering from a cocaine addiction takes specialized care from a dedicated addiction treatment program, some of which can be found locally. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Glendora, California, clients can find comprehensive and individualized treatments within their community. Staffed by mental health care professionals who are both compassionate and understanding, clients can recover from their addiction in comfort and safety. If you or a loved one is struggling with a cocaine addiction, don't wait to get help. For more information about addiction treatment and recovery, call Pathways Wellness Center today at (888) 771-0966.

About the Author

Raul Haro
Raul Haro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with sixteen years of experience working in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. As an LMFT, He has trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Raul has furthered his training in the drug and alcohol field by obtaining a Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling through CCAPP. Raul has a background in nursing where he has been an LVN for over 25 years. Recently, he has returned to school to complete a degree in Registered Nursing. Future plans are for Raul are to eventually complete a degree as a Nurse Practitioner combining his therapy practice with his nursing skills.

Contact Us

Blog CTA - form