How To Tell If Your Loved One Is Abusing Cocaine

How To Tell If Your Loved One Is Abusing Cocaine

In the United States, an estimated one in four individuals has tried cocaine, with 6 million people using it regularly.1 Abusing cocaine, like any illicit drug, leads to severe consequences on an individual’s physical and mental health. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of cocaine use can help a loved one get support and recover from addiction. 

How Does Abusing Cocaine Affect The Body?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that originally stems from the coca plant leaves in South America and leaves individuals feeling euphoric, irritable, or paranoid right after usage. Cocaine increases the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, in turn changing the wiring of the brain’s reward systems with frequent use.2 This leads users to grow more addicted to the substance.

Over time, cocaine abuse can lead to many adverse health outcomes, including but not limited to3:

  • Increased risk for seizure and strokes
  • Loss of smell and frequent nosebleeds
  • Higher risk of HIV when injecting cocaine
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as ulcerations, malnourishment, and tears

Continued after video:

5 Signs That A Loved One Is Abusing Cocaine

Cocaine use can impact the behavior, lifestyle, and physical wellbeing of users. If you suspect that your loved one is abusing cocaine, here are 5 common signs to look out for that point to an issue at hand:

#1: Physical Symptoms of Use and Withdrawal

A telltale sign of cocaine abuse is knowing the visible changes that occur to a user’s body while using or withdrawing from the substance. Common symptoms of cocaine impacting the body include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Higher body temperature
  • Runny or bloody nose
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating or chills
  • Restlessness and shakiness


#2: Shift In Typical Behavior

There is no question that a stimulant drug such as cocaine will impact how an individual behaves and emotes. Furthermore, when cocaine use reaches a full-blown addiction, it can severely impair the ability to function and socialize normally. 

Common behavioral shifts that result from cocaine abuse include:

  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping for long periods since cocaine and other stimulants can disrupt the brain’s sleep cycles
  • Avoiding typical social and work events to hide symptoms of cocaine use from friends or family
  • Rapid changes in mood or emotions, such as irritability, anger, and paranoia

#3: Financial Troubles

Cocaine is by no means a cheap drug to purchase illegally, so many individuals abusing cocaine find themselves with financial troubles. If your loved one is often struggling to pay bills, stealing or borrowing money from others, or experiencing sudden debt, it could be pointing to frequent cocaine purchases.

#4: Visible Signs That Someone is Abusing Cocaine

One way of telling if your loved one is abusing cocaine is by recognizing the visible signs of recent usage. This might include:

Substance Residue: Since snorting cocaine is the most common way of consuming the drug, residue of white powder on the nose, sometimes accompanied by nosebleeds or a runny nose, is often a symptom of recent use.

Paraphernalia: Cocaine is taken in multiple ways, the most common being a powder snorted through the nose, injected through the veins, or smoked. Typical cocaine paraphernalia accompanying these three types of ingestion include rolled-up dollar bills, needles and syringes, glass pipes, mirrors, and razor blades.

#5: Comorbid Mental Health Conditions

18.2% of adults struggling with a mental illness also suffer from a substance use disorder, which could encompass a cocaine addiction.4 Because of this, if your loved one is exhibiting paranoia, anxiety, depression, or another mental health concern, it is essential to pay greater attention to the signs of concurring cocaine abuse. Over the long term, cocaine abuse can cause brain damage

The Importance of Professional Care With Desert Cove Recovery

If you are worried about a friend or family member abusing cocaine, it is critical to seek professional treatment to get the safest and most effective care. Desert Cove Recovery’s outpatient services help clients recover from drug addiction, alcohol dependence, and co-occurring disorders with cutting-edge technologies and tried and true therapeutic approaches.

To start a supportive journey towards sobriety, contact our team today.