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Visible Signs of Cocaine Use

How can you know for sure that someone you love is abusing cocaine? There are actually a number of visible signs of cocaine abuse that will allow you to be more certain of whether or not your loved one is participating in this act; some signs will even help you find out the severity of the individual’s condition and whether or not they require professional help. Look for these signs next time you see your loved one or think they may be using, and you’ll be able to decide the best course of action from there.

Cocaine Paraphernalia

One of the most obvious signs of cocaine abuse is seeing drug paraphernalia specifically used for cocaine in the home or bedroom of the individual for whom you are concerned. Those who snort the drug may have a number of clear bags or vials in their house or apartment as well as a mirror or another small, flat item off of which they snort cocaine. Often, you can still find traces of the white powder on items like these. The individual may also have a necklace, a small case, or another item that they bring everywhere with them that actually has a secret compartment inside where they can store their cocaine.

Those who smoke the drug will have smoking paraphernalia in their home including rolling papers, wrappers from cigars, and pipes. Most individuals smoke cocaine out of a small, glass pipe called a crackpipe. If you notice any of the items listed above, there is a strong possibility the individual is abusing cocaine.

Signs of a Cocaine High

Another way you can determine whether or not someone is using cocaine is to look for the signs of a cocaine high. These may include:

  • Dilated pupils: Stimulants cause pupils to become larger when a person abuses them. The opposite effect is caused by opioids, which make the pupils become smaller. If a person’s pupils are extremely large, it may be a sign of overdose, which can be dangerous.
  • Sweating: Individuals who are high on cocaine will experience an increase in body temperature. This can lead to profuse sweating and even a fever in some cases.
  • Increased breathing: A person will start to breathe faster if they are high on the drug. This is because all the body’s functions are sped up as the result of abusing stimulants; a person’s heartbeat, respiration, and blood pressure will all increase. The best way to determine if this has occurred is by studying the individual’s breathing rate and seeing if it is abnormally fast.
  • Energetic behavior: If the person seems to be acting very energetic, talking fast, or being very alert, this is a sign of a cocaine high.
  • Irritability: With the use of stimulants, negative behavior often occurs, and an individual will likely become irritable or agitated much more easily. In fact, the person may even go from euphoric to grouchy very quickly, based on how the drug is affecting them.
  • Paranoia: Paranoia is also a common sign of a cocaine high. If your loved one becomes very concerned about others plotting against them all of a sudden, it will often be noticeable, and it is a clear sign that they are abusing a stimulant, most likely cocaine.

When you notice these signs, it paints a clear picture of an individual who has been abusing cocaine. However, these do not allow you to be certain of the amount of time the individual has been using the drug; they may have only tried it one time or they may be addicted. Looking for long-term abuse signs will help you confirm whether or not your loved one has been abusing cocaine for a while.

Long-term Abuse and Addiction Signs

psychotic behavior

Psychotic behavior is a sign of long-term cocaine abuse.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, “How cocaine is used leads to different physical problems,” some of which are extremely noticeable. For example, someone who snorts cocaine consistently will likely have a hoarse voice and experience nosebleeds often. The person will also have a runny nose almost constantly. As stated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Burnt lips and fingers from crack pipes are frequently seen” as the result of consistent crack abuse. Track marks are a sign of frequent injection of the drug.

Other visible, long-term signs of cocaine use include:

  • Malnourishment: A person will become malnourished if they have been abusing cocaine for a long time, no matter which way they abuse the substance. Stimulants cause appetite suppression, and over a long time of frequent abuse, the individual will become very thin and ill-looking.
  • Convulsions: Convulsions may occur in someone who has been abusing the drug for some time. They can even happen when the individual is not currently on the drug.
  • Secretive behavior: This is often caused by a mixture of paranoid feelings associated with cocaine abuse and the desire to protect the fact that they are using drugs. The person may lie about where they are going and may even hide their cocaine in certain places where they think no one will look.
  • Psychotic behavior: This occurs when a person has been abusing the drug in large amounts and experiences intense, psychological side effects of that abuse. Hallucinations, delusions, and severe paranoia will occur, causing the individual to perform dangerous and often violent acts. This is a sign that the individual needs treatment right away.

These signs point to severe, long-term cocaine abuse for which the individual will need treatment. In addition, if you notice that your loved one suddenly falls unconscious, stops breathing, or their heart stops beating, these are strong signs that the person has overdosed on cocaine. You will need to take them to the hospital immediately.

Using these noticeable signs of cocaine abuse, you can determine whether or not your fears are legitimate and how much trouble your loved one is in. If you discover that they have been abusing cocaine for a long time, it is important to seek help for them as soon as possible.

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