At first, symptoms of cocaine use go unnoticed because they are subtle and hard to identify. As cocaine use escalates, the user's symptoms become more apparent and easier to detect. For occasional users, symptoms of cocaine use start as a nosebleed or increased heart rate. However, with continual use one may experience cardiac arrest and severe health problems. Cocaine abuse and addiction can lead to hospitalization and death.
Cocaine's effects appear almost immediately after a single dose and disappear within a few minutes or hours. Taken in small amounts (up to 100 mg), cocaine usually makes the user feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert, especially to the sensations of sight, sound, and touch. It can also temporarily decrease the need for food and sleep. Some users find that the drug helps them to perform simple physical and intellectual tasks more quickly.
The duration of cocaine's immediate euphoric effects depends upon the route of administration. The faster the drug is absorbed, the more intense the high. Also, the faster cocaine is absorbed the shorter the duration of the high. The high from snorting cocaine is relatively slow in onset, commonly lasting for 15 to 30 minutes. The high from smoking cocaine may last 5 to 10 minutes.
The symptoms of cocaine use affect every part of the user from the way they think to how they act and feel. Cocaine users will begin to focus more of their energy on acquiring and using cocaine until it becomes an all consuming obsession. Cocaine addiction can take hold of a user in less than 2 weeks. Some research indicates that a psychological dependency may develop after a single dose of high potency cocaine. As the person develops a tolerance to cocaine, higher and higher doses are needed to produce the same level of euphoria.
How can you tell if someone you care about is using cocaine? Here are the most common symptoms of cocaine use that you can look for:
- A change in eating or sleeping patterns
- A change in groups of friends
- A change in school grades or behavior
- A runny nose, frequently sniffing, or bloody nose
- Acting withdrawn, depressed, tired, or careless about personal appearance
- Altered motor skills (tremors, hyperactivity)
- Dilated pupils
- Evidence of weight loss
- Frequently needing money
- Impaired judgment
- Increased energy
- Losing interest in school, family, or activities he or she used to enjoy
- Nausea or vomiting
- Perspiration or chills
- Rapid pulse and breathing
- Red, bloodshot eyes
- Stereotyped, repetitive behavior
- Talking rapidly