Cocaine Addiction

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a strong addictive stimulant normally used as a recreational drug.

It is usually snorted but can be inhaled or dissolved and injected and is derived from the cocoa plant which is native to South America. See Addiction resource for a more comprehensive overview.

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How can you tell if someone is using cocaine

Physical signs

  1. Traces of white powder on the person’s face or clothes.
  2. As most users snort coke they will often have runny noses or be sniffing frequently.
  3. Coke can cause people’s eyes to become bloodshot and their pupils dilated.

Behavioural signs

  1. When people are on a high from the cocaine they feel euphoric and can become hyperactive. They can appear to be fidgety and in some cases can become quite aggressive.
  2. The high from cocaine is short lived and can be anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour. What this means is a heavy user of cocaine will often leave the room for no apparent reason as they need to top up.
  3. One of the effects of cocaine is to reduce a person’s appetite and frequent users of cocaine often lose weight.
  4. Watch for the “Come Down” shortly after they stop using. The normal signs are lethargy and moodiness and not wanting to do anything.
  5. Long-term use can result in serious health issues including heart disease, Insomnia, exhaustion, Depression, Anxiety, paranoia and psychosis

Effects of using cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant and when used has the effect of making people feel energetic, happy and talkative.

The side effects can be some or all of the following,

  • An increase body temperature,
  • Irregular heart rate,
  • high blood pressure,
  • increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and sudden death from cardiac arrest.
  • manic behaviour
  • aggressive tendencies
  • paranoia

Withdrawal symptoms

Following extended use of cocaine withdrawal symptoms may include,

  • insomnia
  • paranoia
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • and in some extreme cases schizophrenia

These symptoms can last for weeks or, in some cases, months.

Rehab & Treatment Options

There are various options when it comes to seeking treatment including attending Narcotics Anonymous which is a twelve step program.

There are also various medical options involving anticonvulsants and these should always be used with properly qualified medical supervision.

At 21Renew where appropriate we arrange for a medical detox and then take the client into our 21-day residential program to equip them with the skills and tools, they will need to maintain their abstinence and get their life back on track.

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The Cycle of Change for Someone using Cocaine

1.  Pre-Contemplation

A person using cocaine who is in pre-contemplation does not believe they have a problem and fee they can stop at any time.

Moving someone who is using cocaine towards getting help can be quite difficult so if you want to help someone in this stage of the cycle then the best approach is to seek professional assistance.

2.  Contemplation

When someone who is using cocaine shifts from pre-contemplation into contemplation they are starting to recognise they have a problem with their cocaine use.

The best way to assist someone who is contemplating taking some action is to encourage them to seek help and do some research into the options they might have such as contacting alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous.

3.  Planning

In this stage of the cycle of change the person using cocaine has commenced putting together a plan on how they intend to achieve this.

The best help you can give someone in this stage is to be supportive and positive. It also helps if you get them to explain to you what their plan is and how they are going to implement it.

4.  Action

The fourth stage in the cycle of change for the cocaine use is putting their plan into action and the best help  you can give them is to be supportive and understanding.

Mood swings are often prevalent in the early days of this stage so it helps to be aware of this and remain supportive and positive..

5.  Maintenance

The final stage in the cycle of change for the cocaine user is the continued implementation of their action plan to remove cocaine from their life.

In the early days of the maintenance stage there may be disruptions and changes to the normal household routine. It’s important to maintain dialogue and communicate with the person. The more everyone in the house understands what the others schedule is on a daily basis the less likelihood there will be of disruption.

At 21Renew we add a further stage and that is to work with the client to ensure they have a plan going forward with how they want to live their life and what they want to achieve in their life. We believe this is critical to the client being successful in the maintenance stage of the cycle.