Physical Signs Of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine abuse has several signs and symptoms, including physical symptoms. When a person can recognize these signs, they can be prepared to spot potential cocaine use in a loved one.
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that can look like a white powder (powder cocaine) or small white “rocks” (crack cocaine).
However, while many people understand the mental health side of cocaine use, fewer people may understand the physical symptoms of this kind of drug abuse.
Cocaine has several physical side effects, including both short-term and long-term symptoms.
Some of these symptoms may be used by a loved one to spot the signs of cocaine use. Others may be more subtle and challenging to identify.
Short-Term Physical Effects Of Cocaine Use
Immediately after taking cocaine, a person will feel the emotional effects. As cocaine causes an increase in dopamine (a reward neurotransmitter), it creates an intense euphoria.
It also creates physical signs and symptoms.
Some of the short-term signs of cocaine use may include:
- constricted blood vessels
- high blood pressure
- elevated heart rate
- elevated body temperature
- runny nose (from snorting cocaine)
- hypersensitivity to sights, sounds, etc.
- decreased appetite
- physical energy and sleeplessness
- dilated pupils
Long-Term Physical Effects Of Cocaine Use
Other physical symptoms may take longer to arrive, but they also last much longer than the immediate effects of cocaine. Some of these side effects may be life-threatening.
For instance, one possible effect of cocaine use is hepatitis and HIV from needle use.
Weight Loss And Bloating
Like other stimulants, cocaine has a strong appetite suppressant effect. With repeated drug use, this effect can lead to malnourishment, which is why cocaine can cause weight loss.
A person who repeatedly uses cocaine may lose a lot of weight in a very short amount of time.
Paradoxically, another sign of cocaine use is bloating around the face, or “coke bloat.” Coke bloat happens for several reasons, including dehydration.
Often, weight loss can make bloating appear more prominent.
Nosebleeds And Runny Nose
One of the most common ways to abuse cocaine is via snorting, or insufflation.
For people who use cocaine in this way, the effects of cocaine addiction may include a runny nose and nosebleeds.
A runny nose may occur immediately after cocaine use, but it can also worsen over time. Some people who snort cocaine may also lose their sense of smell.
While cocaine causes immediate sleep disruptions, those disruptions can become worse with repeated cocaine use.
As a stimulant, cocaine wakes up the central nervous system and creates energetic feelings.
Over time, as cocaine use turns into drug addiction, a person may develop chronic insomnia from cocaine.
Heart And Blood Pressure
Cocaine is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it constricts the blood vessels. As a result, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through the veins, creating high blood pressure.
Elevated blood pressure is also a short-term effect of cocaine use, but this problem can worsen if the person’s substance abuse continues over time.
Because cocaine affects the heart, it may also cause a heart attack.
Occasionally, someone who uses cocaine may experience chest pain that feels like a heart attack even though it is caused by muscle constriction or a panic attack.
However, because this kind of substance use may cause a true heart attack, any person who experiences chest pain while using cocaine should be taken to the emergency room.
Physical Signs Of Cocaine Withdrawal
When a person begins to detox from cocaine, the drug will leave the body, resulting in a number of physical and mental effects.
This detox process may happen intentionally if the person is attempting to stop using cocaine, or unintentionally if the person simply can’t access the drug.
In any case, cocaine detox often causes cocaine withdrawal. The person may experience intense cravings for cocaine during this time.
Sometimes, the signs of cocaine addiction become especially apparent when a person begins to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal creates many emotional and behavioral health symptoms, but it may lead to several physical symptoms as well.
Some physical withdrawal symptoms may include:
- overall discomfort
- increased appetite
- nausea and vomiting
Recover From Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction is a complex mental illness, and the long-term effects of cocaine can make the addiction even more complicated.
However, people can recover with the right cocaine addiction treatment.
Spring Hill Recovery Center offers several therapies and addiction treatment options, including both inpatient and outpatient care.
If you or a loved one may need a cocaine treatment program, contact Spring Hill Recovery Center today.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — What Are The Short-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use
- National Library Of Medicine — Cocaine Withdrawal https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000947.htm