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Cocaine Drug Abuse Signs and Symptoms

Understanding Cocaine

Also known as: Coke, Dust, Toot, Snow, Blow, Sneeze, Powder, Lines, Rock (Crack)

Know the Signs:

  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Runny nose or frequent sniffing
  • Change in groups of friends
  • Acting withdrawn, depressed, tired or careless about personal appearance
  • Losing interest in school, family or activities they used to enjoy
  • Frequently needing money

It can be hard to tell if someone has been using cocaine. If someone has one or more of the following warning signs, they may be using cocaine or other illicit drugs.

Your Brain on Cocaine

The word "cocaine" refers to the drug in both a powder (cocaine) and crystal (crack) form. It is made from the coca plant and causes a short-lived high that is immediately followed by opposite, intense feelings of depression, edginess and a craving for more of the drug. Cocaine may be snorted as a powder, converted to a liquid form for injection with a needle or processed into a crystal form to be smoked.

Your Body on Cocaine

People who use cocaine often don't eat or sleep regularly. They can experience increased heart rate, muscle spasms and convulsions. If they snort cocaine, they can also permanently damage their nasal tissue.

Quick Facts About Cocaine
  • Even first-time cocaine users can have seizures or fatal heart attacks.
  • Cocaine impairs your judgment, which may lead to unwise decisions around sexual activity. This can increase your risk for HIV/AIDS, other diseases, rape and unplanned pregnancy.
  • Cocaine is expensive. Regular users can spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on cocaine each week.
  • Both cocaine and crack are powerfully addictive.
  • Cocaine may give users a temporary illusion of power and energy, but often leaves them unable to function emotionally, physically and sexually. Positive feelings are fleeting and often followed by some very bad feelings, like paranoia and intense cravings.

Your Emotions on Cocaine

Using cocaine can make you feel paranoid, angry, hostile and anxious, even when you're not high.

It's Addictive

Cocaine interferes with the way your brain processes chemicals that create feelings of pleasure, so you need more and more of the drug just to feel normal. People who become addicted to cocaine start to lose interest in other areas of their life, like school, friends and sports.

It Can Kill You

Cocaine use can cause heart attacks, seizures, strokes and respiratory failure. People who share needles can also contract hepatitis, HIV/AIDS or other diseases.

Know the Risks

Cocaine with other drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous. The effects of one drug can magnify the effects of another, and mixing substances can be deadly.

Know the Law

Cocaine—in any form—is illegal.

Questions About Cocaine Abuse?

As the largest provider of drug and alcohol addiction treatment in Illinois, Gateway understands you have a lot of questions. We realize you are looking for answers and want to know the next step in getting your spouse, friend or family member the help they need.

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