Cocaine is classified as a hard drug and is illegal to possess or consume, but it’s often seen in a different light. Due to the stereotype of use among wealthy individuals like investment bankers or in rave settings, coke has a different reputation — that it’s safer to use than heroin or meth, and it’s less damaging too.
However, this is not the case. Abused by around 2 million Americans, cocaine has a small but significant presence in the United States.
And, according to research, its use may be on the rise, particularly among young adults. With potential health risks that include seizures, heart disease, stroke and mood disorders, ongoing use can come with serious problems.
Despite the pop-culture perceptions, cocaine is a dangerous drug and can lead to significant consequences when abused. If you or someone you love is stuck in a cycle of cocaine abuse, the time to get help to quit cocaine is now.
Signs of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine is a stimulant that increases alertness and inspires feelings of euphoria due to an increase of dopamine in the brain. It can be snorted, smoked or shot.
Cocaine is stereotyped as a white-collar drug for its prominence in the 1980s among investment bankers, who used it to stay awake long hours while working. However, in other forms, like crack cocaine or cocaine in a hard rock-like substance that can be cut with other materials, cocaine doesn’t enjoy the same reputation. Regardless of form, its effects are pleasing, but the risks are serious.
Cocaine abuse can manifest in different ways, but those using cocaine often display symptoms like:
- Erratic behavior
- Extreme excitability
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Inability to sleep
Many signs of persistent abuse manifest in behavioral ways. If you see any of these effects in yourself or your loved ones, addiction may be at hand:
- Financial problems: Cocaine is an expensive drug and, accordingly, costs a lot of money. Dwindling savings, a reduction in income or any other financial issues when coupled with other side effects may indicate addiction.
- Disinterest in hobbies: When drugs take over, it’s not uncommon for hobbies and other interests to fall by the wayside. Users start to cancel plans, quit organized events and retreat into drug use.
- Relationship troubles: When drug use starts to dominate, it’s not uncommon to see the side effects manifest in relationships. Whether it’s strange behavior from drugs or financial issues from excess spending, cocaine abuse can strain even the best relationships.
- Lying and hiding activities: As drug use accelerates, it’s not uncommon for users to attempt to hide behavior, lie about plans or otherwise work to make sure their use isn’t noticed.
Why Getting Clean Matters
Drug addiction can affect many areas of life, from relationships to financial security. Getting clean can lead to a better quality of life, including better employment opportunities, more stable connections with friends and family and a lower-risk lifestyle. With cocaine’s negative health effects, living a healthy life is virtually impossible while using.
While cocaine overdoses don’t happen with the frequency of drugs like heroin, it’s important to consider this risk. In 2017, 14,000 individuals died from an overdose that involved cocaine usage.
Further, the rate of cocaine overdose is on the rise, in large part due to fentanyl adulterating cocaine supplies. While once limited to heroin, fentanyl is appearing in cocaine in all forms, making use more dangerous than ever before.
1. Get in the Right Mindset
A large part of getting clean involves mindset. To succeed in treatment, you must want to get clean.
A half-hearted approach to treatment will result in half-hearted results. Simply going through the motions will more than likely result in a relapse sooner rather than later, so it’s important to find the right motivation to get clean.
If you’re not motivated to get clean on your own, take time to consider what drugs have taken from you. Have you lost your job? Failed to receive a promotion? Caused trouble in your romantic relationship? Strained bonds with your family? Withdrawn funds from college savings for your children or your retirement accounts? Drug use affects all parts of your life, so examining what your use is costing you can help you find the motivation to get clean.
2. Get Professional Support
Going cold turkey alone may feel like a more convenient way to get clean, but it’s not the best way to kick the habit. Without oversight and support resources, it’s easier to fall back into old patterns and ways.
Professional treatment can provide a safe, stable environment to change your habits and get clean in a healthy way. With medical staff available to ease the side effects during detox, counselors experienced in addiction medicine and a supportive group environment, going to inpatient rehabilitation can make a challenging process a little easier.
Further, many professional treatment centers, like FHE Health, operate on a step-down basis. For example, after inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs can ease the assimilation back into normal life.
3. Find a Way to Fill Your Days
While getting high, it’s easy to leave hobbies in the dust for drug use. Things like running, video games, reading, writing and athletic teams get neglected in favor of buying drugs and partying. Unfortunately, after these kinds of lifestyle changes, it’s easy to feel as though there’s no reason to live without drug use.
Instead of finding yourself with idle time and letting temptation take over, use your newfound sobriety to reexplore your former passions. Join a running club, buy a new game, buy some new books or take up an instrument. With something new to think about and take up time in your day, it’s easier to leave drugs in the rearview mirror.
4. Create a Support System
A good support system is absolutely essential to getting clean. You need people to lean on when you’re feeling cravings, talk to about your feelings and turn to when struggling to make sense of your experiences with substance abuse.
In addition to friends and family, a group of other sober individuals can be critical. Those you meet in rehab, aftercare groups or local outpatient programs can help you stay connected to the sobriety and remind you of the importance of staying clean. While staying clean isn’t easy and the temptations to use may never go away, the right people around you can help you stay on the straight and narrow.
5. Avoid Temptation
When your entire lifestyle starts to revolve around drugs, most of your spare time is spending with other users, going to parties or friends’ homes to use drugs or other behaviors related to drug use. After finishing a treatment program, it can feel like second nature to return to these places and reconnect with friends from your past.
However, this is generally a bad idea. Cravings are hard to control under even the best circumstances, and putting yourself back in the mindset you held while you were using makes staying clean even more challenging. Instead, don’t let these old habits come creeping back.
Turn down party invitations, stay away from areas where you used to use and pass on plans that would have involved drug abuse before you got clean. It may be hard to let long-time friends know that you need to make a clean break for your own health, but ridding yourself of reminders of your past life can be essential to avoiding temptation.
Get the Help You Need to Quit Cocaine
Cocaine abuse is a serious issue. While quitting without intervention is certainly possible, it’s not recommended. A professional treatment center with the trained oversight of medical professionals to manage the process can make it safer and easier.
If you or someone you love is living with an addiction to cocaine, help is here. Please contact FHE Health to learn more about our comprehensive treatment opportunities, including inpatient care, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programming.