Cocaine addiction can often create a vicious cycle where people begin to alter plans and commitments around the drug. It is also very expensive and those who are heavily addicted can in some cases find themselves spending hundreds of pounds a day in order to feed their habit. The drug’s effect as a powerful stimulant can cause people to go through a range of emotions throughout the day, feeling energetic and full of adrenaline while using the drug, and reserved, agitated, and fatigued when not.
Symptoms of cocaine addiction
As with many addictions, it can be difficult to tell if someone has grown dependent on a certain drug, and there are those who are capable of functioning seemingly normally while taking it. These are known as ‘high functioning’ users. Cocaine is incredibly addictive, and frequent use can quickly turn habitual, and into full-blown chemical addiction. It is important to be aware of the signs that someone is using cocaine often, so that it doesn’t spiral out of control.
Signs of frequent use include:
- Being highly excitable, overconfident and taking unnecessary risks, when on the drug
- Loss of appetite
- Over frequent toilet visits in order to use and returning with tell-tale signs such as dilated pupils or a running nose
- Frequent nose bleeds
Longer term use turn into an addiction, at which point you will notice a different set of symptoms in addition to the ones previously mentioned.
- Consistent irritability and anxiety
- Seemingly constant problems with money - cocaine is extremely expensive and addictions can cost hundreds per day
- Money issues can manifest as legal issues, problems paying rent or bills, and in more extreme cases committing crimes in order to get money
- Requiring more and more of the drug in order to achieve the same high as tolerance levels build
- Frequent fatigue - cocaine is a powerful stimulant and will stop people from sleeping properly at night
All of these can create situations where someone finds it hard to maintain relationships as well as jobs as their life begins to revolve around cocaine.
Causes for cocaine addiction
As with anything there are a variety of different reasons why someone might become addicted to cocaine. As discussed before, it requires a large amount of constant cocaine use in order to maintain a high. This plays a strong part in the development of dependencies as the line between recreational use and addiction becomes blurred, and people may not realise they have a problem.
One of the key drivers for any kind of addiction is going to be someone’s environment. If a person exists in a social circle where cocaine use is normalised then it is very easy for that person to become an addict. If you are spending large amounts of time with those who use and especially those who are dealing cocaine, then it is easy for casual use to become normalised and even habitual, which can in many instances spiral into addiction.
As cocaine provides a sense of euphoria for a short while many people take it in order to escape from real life problems or trauma in their past. Sadly, constant use of the drug can cause people to manufacture situations from which they need to escape further creating a vicious spiral of use and depression.
As with many other addictive substances, if someone has become dependent on cocaine and then stops using it, they will start experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
The symptoms experienced by those weening themselves off the drug can be extremely uncomfortable and can provide a reason to keep on using. The precise symptoms that somebody experiences will vary based on a series of physiological and environmental factors, as well as on how heavily the person was using. In most cases of severe withdrawal following addiction, it is important to seek medical attention and be assessed by a doctor to help ease your transition and make sure you do not harm your body.
Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal
Those who have stopped using cocaine can notice symptoms of withdrawal as soon as a few hours after their last hit. The amount of cocaine required to maintain a constant high is very large due to how quickly it wears off, so the body begins to feel the pinch much more quickly than with other drugs. The period immediately following cessation of use the drug is known as ‘the crash’ and one will generally find themselves feeling the following symptoms:
- A general feeling of exhaustion and desire to sleep, though often with difficulty doing so
- Depression, inability to find things that make you happy
- Feeling highly strung, anxious, and irritable
- Reduced cravings and increased appetite
Many of these symptoms can be found in recreational users as well as addicts but those who are using larger amounts of cocaine consistently can find that these effects are far more severe, and more regular. After the initial crash has worn off, those who have developed a dependency to cocaine will often begin to suffer a second set of symptoms which are related to the body beginning to adapt to life without the drug. Whereas the crash will generally last no longer than a few days these second set of symptoms can last in some severe cases up to 10 weeks and can include.
- Powerful cravings to start using again as the brain struggles to adapt to the chemical imbalance
- Becoming increasingly irritable and angry
- Depression and, in some severe cases, suicidal thoughts
- Inability to sleep punctuated by very vivid nightmares
- Decreased libido
Overcoming cocaine withdrawal
There are different ways in which one can successfully overcome withdrawal symptoms brought on by ending cocaine use. For those who have a mild to moderate dependency on the drug it is possible that simply avoiding any future use may be suitable. If the body has not become chemically addicted then a few weeks without the drug should suffice to overcome withdrawal symptoms. One of the most important things during this time is to make sure that the person in question does not start using again.
If withdrawal symptoms persist, however, then it vital that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. At Lifeline, you will be assessed by our specialist doctors who can work out what the best course of action is for you.
In order to help the body acclimatise to functioning without cocaine, some medical practitioners will prescribe drugs to help reduce the shock that the body faces. Observation during this time from a medical professional is key. Those suffering from cocaine withdrawal often report depression and suicidal feelings, and it is vital to have someone on hand to address these urges and offer psychological or medical help when appropriate. After extended periods of use the part of the brain that handles reward becomes disrupted and is less receptive to the effects of dopamine meaning that those experiencing withdrawal find it very hard to find pleasure in day to day activity during this time.
FAQs on Cocaine
Can cocaine cause mental health problems?
Consistent use of cocaine can exacerbate pre-existing mental health problems both through imbalance of dopamine in the brain, and through creating stressful situations for the user.
How much would a coke addict spend a day?
This will vary greatly on the level of addiction, but cocaine is an extremely expensive habit and can cost users hundreds of pounds per day.
Can you die from cocaine addiction?
While this is only true in some cases, using too much of the drug restricts blood flow to the heart which can result in death.
Can someone die from cocaine withdrawal
The physiological effects of cocaine withdrawal are not severe enough to cause loss of life on their own. Suicide, however, is the most likely cause of death for those who have recently stopped taking the drug.
How long does withdrawal last?
This depends on both the severity of the usage and the person, but most symptoms are expected to subside within 2-3 months, although it can last longer in more extreme cases