signs of cocaine feature

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is something you’ve heard of before. Honestly, you’ve possibly seen it, too. Cocaine has been labeled a “party drug” in Mississippi since the ’70s and has seemed to stay that way.

Cocaine is dangerous as it is addictive. While someone taking one dose of cocaine does not mean addiction, there are signs your loved one may be addicted to the substance. In this piece, we will discuss the signs of cocaine addiction, how it can affect the brain, and options for treatment in Mississippi.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant that is produced from coca leaves. The substance is known as a Schedule II substance. This means that while the substance is illegal, it can be used by doctors as an anesthetic for surgeries. It also means it has a high potential for misuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Before it was made illegal in 1914, it was an ingredient in Coca-Cola.

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There are two forms of cocaine: the white powder that is usually seen and a non-dissolvable base or freebase, which is a purified solid form of cocaine, such as crack. Cocaine is consumed in three main ways: snorting, injecting, and smoking. The powder is snorted or injected (after being mixed with water), while the freebase version is smoked.

Cocaine is a stimulant, and it works by binding to the dopamine (feel-good chemical) receptors in the brain. These receptors serve as the reward centers in our brains while also regulating our emotions. The danger of cocaine is that it blocks the normal communication of dopamine in the brain and makes an even stronger signal, which is the “high” of most substances.

How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?

Cocaine misuse creates long-term changes within the brain. In the brain, dopamine will recycle into the cell that released it and shut off the nerve cell signals. Cocaine stops that process and makes dopamine build up. Because of this buildup, the reward is intense, and this buildup encourages misuse of cocaine. The brain becomes more tolerant of smaller doses and will need larger doses to maintain that same feeling of reward. This makes cocaine very addictive.

Short-Term Effects

The effects of cocaine appear almost immediately after taking a dose and disappear within the hour. Depending on how the substance is consumed, the effects can last longer or be more intense. For example, the high from snorting cocaine can last up to half an hour, whereas the high from smoking it can last five to ten minutes but produce a stronger high. The short-term effects include:

  • Dilated pupils (black parts of the eyes are larger)
  • Euphoria (extreme happiness)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Muscle twitches

Long-Term Effects

Along with creating tolerance to the substance, cocaine affects other areas of the brain as well. Bleeding in the brain has been reported, along with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

There have also been reports of long-term cocaine misuse damaging a ton of brain functions. Decision making, maintaining attention, performing motor tasks, impulse control, and even memory have all been affected due to long-term misuse.

There have also been cases where cocaine binges (taking a large amount of cocaine in a short period of time) led to auditory hallucinations, or hearing things in a person’s head.

Long-term cocaine misuse affects the other organs as well. It can decrease blood flow to the intestines and stomach, causing ulcers and tears. It can also contribute to malnutrition (a lack of nutrients). Research shows that many people who misuse substances encounter malnutrition. Along with this, cocaine has also been linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack-like chest pains.

How the substance is taken can also influence the long-term effects. Snorting cocaine long term can affect a person’s sense of smell, cause frequent nosebleeds, and problems with swallowing. Injecting cocaine can scar the arms, cause collapsed veins, and put the person at risk for bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. Smoking cocaine comes with a higher risk of pneumonia, constant coughing, asthma, and many lung issues.

The Scope of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction affects many Americans (1.9 million in 2016), but it also affects many in the Magnolia State. In 2018, 2% of Mississippians age 12 and up reported taking cocaine, and 9.5% of overdose deaths were cocaine-related the same year.

What Are Some Signs of Addiction?

The signs of cocaine addiction can vary depending on how it’s taken. For example, if a person has scarring or “track” marks on their arms, that is a sign of taking cocaine through injection. Other physical symptoms of cocaine addiction can be malnutrition, frequent nosebleeds, and constant coughing.

While there are physical signs of cocaine addiction, the mental signs may be more noticeable. Higher rates of mental alertness, euphoria, and anxiety can be indicators of cocaine addiction, as well as having more energy. Keep in mind that these are all short-term effects of cocaine misuse, but if you are seeing these short-term effects continuously, this very well can be a sign of addiction.

One of the most telltale signs of addiction is when a person can’t control their consumption of the substance. If they feel like they can’t stop taking cocaine, this is a clear sign of addiction as the person may feel like they don’t have any control over it. Cocaine addiction is dangerous as it can lead to overdose.

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Cocaine Overdose

If someone is suffering from a cocaine overdose, immediately dial 911.

Cocaine addiction can lead to an overdose on the substance. While accidental overdoses exist, an addiction to cocaine increases the likelihood of overdosing. Some of the symptoms of cocaine overdose include:

  • Nausea
  • High body temperature
  • Irregular breathing
  • Skin turning blue

Cocaine overdose is typically broken down into stages, with the symptoms above being stage one. Stage two symptoms can include:

  • Seizures
  • Trouble controlling urine
  • Rapid breathing
  • High blood pressure

Stage three symptoms are usually the most fatal as they include:

  • Coma
  • Heart attack
  • Areflexia (loss of reflexes)
  • Loss of functioning

While misusing cocaine may not put a person into stage three overdose, it is still a serious risk that is increased by cocaine addiction.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

If you are reading this, chances are you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one. Addiction can put a strain on so many facets of a person’s life, but Vertava Health Mississippi is here to provide treatment for cocaine addiction.

Much like how addiction looks different for everyone, so does treatment. Every client is different, which means every treatment plan should reflect that. The first part of treatment is admitting you need it. After that, it is time to detox.

Cocaine Detox and Withdrawal

One of the first parts of treatment is the detox process. During this process, clients will experience three stages of detox. “Crashing” is the first stage, where clients will experience low energy and possible mood swings. The second stage is called “craving.” In this stage, clients start to crave the substance, and irritability increases as well. The final stage is “extinction,” where minimal cravings show up.

While a medically supervised detox might be recommended for some clients, a cocaine detox is less dangerous than detoxing from other substances. That said, there are still withdrawal symptoms.

During cocaine withdrawal, the cravings can be strong, and the symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Depressed mood

Inpatient Treatment in Mississippi

This form of addiction treatment requires the client to stay on-site at the facility 24/7. This is where cocaine detox and withdrawal typically take place, too. Inpatient treatment gives clients full time to focus on their recovery and not the stressors of their lives.

Also called residential treatment, this form of treatment is beneficial as it contains personalized treatment, 24/7 medical care, different forms of therapy, and even different recreational activities at the center. There are two forms of inpatient treatment Vertava Health Mississippi offers: long-term and short-term.

Long-Term Residential Treatment

Long-term residential treatment can range from two months to an entire year, depending on the client. This form of treatment is best for those who have a severe addiction to cocaine and are very physically dependent on it. Long-term residential treatment focuses on “resocializing” clients. It is very community-based and works on developing the skills of accountability and personal responsibility.

Due to the nature of this form of treatment, it can require the client to recognize their own damaging beliefs and restructure them. Because of this, long-term residential treatment has the potential to get confrontational. Clients can also expect to become socially productive.

Short-term residential treatment usually will last between a few weeks and 30 days. This form of treatment is modeled after a 12-step approach and is intensive due to how quick it is. Because of how brief the stay is, the importance of continuing treatment with outpatient programming is stressed.

Outpatient Programs

In this form of treatment, clients would be living at home and traveling to the facility for treatment. This form of treatment works well for those who still have to work or care for loved ones and balance that part of their lives. In this form of treatment, clients can expect to get:

  • One-on-one therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Medical services
  • Psychiatric services

Vertava Health Mississippi’s evening outpatient program takes place Monday through Friday from 5:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m.


Treatment doesn’t only address the physical side of addiction but also the mental aspect of it. Vertava Health Mississippi offers different forms of therapy for clients. Therapy is meant to address why you feel the way you feel and examine your thought and behavior patterns. There are two forms of individual therapy we offer: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT).

CBT is the most common form of therapy in which a client will learn to become more aware of their thoughts, notice unhelpful thinking patterns, and work to change them. CBT has a goal-oriented approach, and it has several strategies to address negative thinking patterns. Some of these strategies are learning problem-solving skills, gaining self-confidence, and learning how to recognize the warped version of one’s thinking patterns and reevaluating them.

signs of cocaine addiction

DBT is a form of therapy that is based more on emotions and acceptance. “Dialectical” means synthesis, and this form of therapy works on synthesizing (blending) acceptance with change. DBT has four skills clients will learn, two that are based on acceptance and two based on change. These skills are:

  • Emotion regulation (learning how to keep one’s emotions in check)
  • Mindfulness (learning how to be present and aware)
  • Interpersonal skills (learning how to respond to not getting what you want, and learning how to ask for what you want)
  • Distress tolerance (learning how to tolerate difficult situations instead of changing them)

Both forms of therapy can get to the root of the addiction, teach clients how to use coping skills in place of destructive thinking, and most importantly, will help clients move forward on their road to recovery.

Vertava Health – Mississippi Is Here For You

Vertava Health Mississippi cares about your future. We understand how hard it is to struggle with addiction, and how hard it can be to seek help. We want to congratulate you for taking the first step of treatment by seeking it out.

Ready to make a change?

Our Mississippi facility can help you explore treatment options and design a plan that meets your needs.

Contact Us

Our mission at Vertava Health Mississippi is to empower you. You are more than your vices, and we want you to live out your best future. We are here to help you each step of the way. Call (888) 956-6369 to start your treatment today.

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