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Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Dependence

Understanding how cocaine works in our bodies will help us to better understand why and how it is so easy to become dependent upon this highly addictive drug. Cocaine works in our brains by blocking the removal of dopamine (a naturally occurring “feel-good neurotransmitter) from the synapse and this results in an abundance of accumulated dopamine giving the user a feeling of euphoria.

There are different ways to use cocaine and the results vary a bit between them. Below is a list of the methods users employ to become high on cocaine.

Methods of cocaine use: in order by speed of results

  • Snorting- slowest results, longest lasting high (15-30 minutes)
  • Injecting- fast results, more intense shorter high (10 minutes)
  • Smoking- immediate results, shortest high (5 minutes)

Some “pleasurable” but short-term effects of cocaine use include:

  • euphoria
  • energetic feeling
  • mental sharpness
  • heightened sensory absorption
  • decreased need for food/sleep
  • higher efficiency when completing simple mental and physical tasks

As a user experiments and continues to use, they become an abuser that is dependent upon cocaine very rapidly because of how easily control is lost. The more they use, the more it takes to achieve the same euphoric results. Building up a tolerance usually results in a quick trip downhill into dependency, addiction, and further severe consequences that walk hand in hand with cocaine abuse.

Signs of Cocaine Dependency:

cocaine abuse

If you frequently experience drug cravings and feel anxious without cocaine you may be dependent.

  • A “need” to use frequently/regularly
  • Failed attempts to stop using
  • Maintain a “stash” or supply
  • Spending money you don’t have on it
  • Not feeling “normal” when not under the influence
  • Risky behavior while intoxicated by cocaine (ex: driving while high)
  • Squandering time and energy to acquire it
  • Stealing/doing things out of character to get it
  • Changes in behaviors, social circles, lifestyle

Not only will dependency upon cocaine change the abuser’s life, it may very well take it away all together. There are physical debts paid when an abuser indulges their dependency. Cocaine will wreak havoc and punish your body.

Symptoms of Cocaine Dependency:

  • Heightened visual, auditory, taste perception, and touch senses
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Restricted blood vessels
  • Increased heart-rate
  • Increased risk of cardiac arrest/heart attack
  • Periods of depression (when not using)
  • Apathy
  • Increased probability of aggression
  • Mild to severe irritability
  • Unreasonable behavior
  • Enlarged heart
  • Increased risk for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C

Cocaine’s effects are dangerously seductive and cunning. It is for that very reason that addiction to and dependency upon cocaine are so startlingly common in the U.S. today. NIDA states that a survey done in 2008 counted 1.9 million current cocaine users.

Cocaine addiction and dependency continue to afflict millions in our country. Dependency upon cocaine is almost a given when I drug this highly addictive is abused. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a Cocaine Dependency is a first step toward getting help.