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How to tell if a loved one is addicted to cocaine

Cocaine is a dangerous and highly addictive drug. It increases levels of attention, alertness and energy. This is due to the drug sending dopamine into the pleasure centers of the brain. This results in an intense high. 

Of course, cocaine is illegal in the U.S., and anyone who uses it may face harsh criminal punishments. It can also result in various health problems. If you have suspicions that someone you know is addicted to cocaine, you may want to help this person legally and offer emotional support. Here are some signs that a loved one is living with a cocaine addiction. 

Short-term effects

Here are some symptoms some people experience when they use cocaine: irritability, anger, paranoia and decreased appetite. On the other hand, they may experience intense happiness. They may also have sensitivity to light, sound and touch. If you notice these signs, it may be because of cocaine use.

Serious side effects

Consistent use of cocaine may result in the following health problems:

  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Headaches
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Lung damage
  • Hepatitis or HIV
  • Nosebleeds
  • Loss of smell
  • Runny nose

These issues are more likely to develop if someone is regularly abusing cocaine. 

Other signs

More red flags of cocaine may include:

  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Significant changes in daily routine
  • Unusual financial problems or need for money
  • Changes in activities or friend groups
  • Lack of personal hygiene

Noticing these behaviors and symptoms in someone you love may be concerning. 

How to help

It can be daunting and scary to think about your friend struggling with drugs. The best thing you can do is offer your support. Be a positive influence on this person rather than taking the confrontational intervention route. Encourage this person to seek help, including rehabilitation and legal assistance. Instead of lecturing or threatening this person, simply let him or her know that you care and you want him or her to get better.


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