Suspecting that a loved one might have a substance use disorder is frightening. Although you’ve likely heard about drug addiction before, you may not have thought it would affect you. While it’s normal to feel this way, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Millions of families watch their loved ones battle addictions to drugs such as cocaine every year. If you suspect that your loved one is using cocaine, there are a few warning signs to look out for.
Before we delve into three signs of cocaine addiction, it’s important to understand what cocaine addiction is and what it looks like. Arming yourself with this knowledge is the best way to understand what your loved one is going through - it will also help you support them better. An addictive stimulant drug, cocaine elevates the heart rate and increases feelings of alertness and satisfaction in the user. This feel-good high gets people hooked as it pushes the brain to release extra dopamine - a hormone responsible for feelings of reward and pleasure. The longer someone uses cocaine, the harder it is to achieve the same high in everyday life. This leads to a continuous cycle of drug abuse and causes the person to require greater doses to achieve the same effect.
Though all substance use disorders produce symptoms, there are a few particular signs and behaviors to look out for if you believe someone is battling cocaine addiction.
One of cocaine’s signature side effects is unpredictable mood swings. If a loved one has become reliant on cocaine, you might find that they are chatty and social one day and down the next. As a stimulant, cocaine naturally makes someone feel more energetic and talkative. This is especially true during the early stages of drug abuse. However, sustained cocaine addiction will eventually make it more difficult for them to achieve this high with the original dosage. As noted above, individuals will need to take a larger quantity of the drug to achieve the same high. Once they hit a low, you might find that your loved one recedes away from the spotlight and withdraws into alcohol to cope with the come-down.
The more someone uses drugs, the more likely they’ll withdraw from normal activities. Things that they used to find exciting will no longer interest them. They might even start to push you away in fear of rejection or being caught out. In addition to the above, your loved one might also start to develop social circles with other drug users, making it more difficult for them to stay away from cocaine.
Some of the most noticeable warning signs when a cocaine addiction impairs a person’s life are physical changes. During active addiction, you might find that your loved one presents a few unusual symptoms such as:
Other signs that aren’t as noticeable include an increased heart rate and sensitivity to light, sound, and touch.
Cocaine might initially produce pleasurable side effects, but long-term addiction will significantly impact an individual’s physical and mental health. Regular usage can lead to:
Once an individual starts taking cocaine, the body will come to depend on it. This means once they stop, they’ll begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be anything from mood swings and high blood pressure to depression and anxiety. Quitting alone will only exacerbate withdrawal symptoms and could potentially be life-threatening. This is why those battling addiction must attend a drug and alcohol rehab.
If you have a strong suspicion that your loved one is battling a cocaine addiction, you’ll need to approach them with love and care. It’s easy to come across as judgmental and critical, even when you think you’re being supportive. However, drug addiction is complex, so it’s key that you arm yourself with the knowledge to understand your loved ones and why they’re in this position in the first place. You might find it useful to attend a support group so you can see how other families are dealing with the situation.
Seeing a loved one struggle with addiction is never easy. After all, you want the best for them, and you want them to be successful and happy in life. Though challenging, addiction is treatable with the right tools and resources. It may take some time, but sobriety is within your loved one’s reach. Welcome them with open arms and give them the support they need, guiding them to rehab. While it’s important to ensure that your loved one has the help they need, it’s also just as important to focus on your own mental health. Dealing with addiction in the family can be stressful and time-consuming, so consider going to therapy yourself to work through all the challenges.