How common is cocaine usage? In the United States, 2.3 percent of the population uses it, according to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. That’s behind the usage rate for Albania and Scotland, but ahead of countries like Spain and Australia.
On the surface, 2.3 percent may not seem like a big deal, but that equates to a little more than 1 in 50 people who are cocaine users.
If you have a friend who is using, you need to be on the lookout for cocaine addiction symptoms. Read on for more information.
Signs of Cocaine Use
Some people will admit to using cocaine but say it’s not a big deal, while others will deny it completely. Neither is ideal, but it’s a lot harder to treat addiction if the person who is using remains in denial.
You don’t necessarily have to catch a loved one in the act to know there’s an issue, though. White powder around the nose is one of the warning signs of cocaine use, along with dilated pupils, twitching, and nosebleeds.
A person who has just used cocaine will often seem very excitable. They might act even happier than normal to see you, and they may start talking and have trouble stopping.
If someone acts hyperactive and twitchy once or twice, you may be able to chalk it up too much coffee or not enough sleep, or some other relatively harmless affliction. How can you tell the difference?
Look for Long-Term Patterns
The better you know someone, the easier it will be to tell if something is off. For instance, if you meet someone at a party and they’re bouncing off the walls, you can shrug it off because you have no sense of if that counts as “normal” for them.
But if a friend who is usually quiet and reserved shows up at your house and acts paranoid and aggressive, that’s cause for concern. Feel free to ask them, “Are you OK?” Depending on how close you are, you may even be able to ask, “Are you on something right now?”
There’s no guarantee they’ll give you an honest answer, but it will at least let them know that they aren’t as good at hiding their cocaine usage as they probably think.
Cocaine Addiction Symptoms Based on Method of Consumption
It’s easy to think of cocaine as something that you snort off a credit card or business card at a party. That’s the way it works in movies, at least, but that’s far from the only method of consumption.
Snorting cocaine sends it into the bloodstream, but injecting cocaine directly into your veins can create an even more extreme high. An intravenous user will often have track marks on their arms or other parts of their body.
Don’t overlook crack cocaine usage, either. It’s a newer but no less deadly form of cocaine.
First, a quick history lesson: in the 1980s, cocaine had a reputation as a “club drug,” at least until dealers who wanted a more potent product began mixing cocaine powder with baking soda.
The resulting product could be smoked instead of snorted or injected, and before too long, the “crack epidemic” was in full bloom. Of course, poorer communities bore the brunt of this epidemic, especially in cities like Oakland, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Crack cocaine has a reputation for being cheaper and somehow lower-class. In a now-infamous interview from 2002, singer Whitney Houston declared, “Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack.”
People smoking crack often have the same behavioral traits as other cocaine users, along with burned fingers from using a crack pipe. It’s also possible for their lips to look blistered or chapped.
Should You Stage an Intervention?
If you’re reading about the warning signs of a cocaine use with a sick feeling in your stomach, you may think that the next logical step is an intervention on your friend’s behalf. It can seem like the only way for them to get help.
Be careful with that. Interventions can work, but they aren’t as easy to pull off as they may seem. A proper intervention requires a lot of thought and attention.
If you feel like you can afford to, start smaller. Talk to the cocaine user in a one-on-one setting first, but don’t call it an intervention. Instead, mention the symptoms that you’ve noticed and express a general sense of concern.
Remember that anxiety and paranoia are two of the most common signs of cocaine abuse. It’s a bad idea to go in and say something combative like “You’re too stupid to realize what a pathetic addict you are.”
Group Interventions are Delicate Exercises
If that doesn’t go well, then you can escalate to a group intervention. Remember that you need a specific goal for this group intervention. It shouldn’t be an occasion for half a dozen people to gather in a room and tell the cocaine user how messed up they are.
Suggest they visit a residential treatment center to get clean. Offer to take them to the facility the same day, because once you get to the intervention stage, there’s no time to dilly dally.
You should expect some resistance. It’s natural for the signs of cocaine addiction to be obvious to everyone except the person using.
Cocaine withdrawal isn’t a fun thing to go through, and it’s much easier for most people to tell themselves that everyone is wrong and they don’t need to do anything different.
If they refuse to get help, you can’t throw up your hands and say, “Well, we tried.” You must have a fixed plan in mind for refusal, even if that means cutting off contact with the addicted party.
The Next Steps
Just because the person you love won’t talk to an addiction specialist doesn’t mean you can’t.
We have a team of experts who can address the sense of helplessness that often comes with caring about a person who is displaying cocaine addiction symptoms.
Check out our website to learn more about us and how we can help.