The so-called “hard drugs,” like cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, and meth, immediately make any parent assume the worst. Couple that with the many myths and false information surrounding cocaine, and any parent is going to be terrified. But, how to tell if your child is using cocaine or other substances? The answer isn’t as complicated as many believe.
Understanding Substance Abuse
Kids try drugs for a myriad of reasons. Peer pressure, to self-medicate mental health conditions, and other reasons. Even when parents set an excellent example that talks about the dangers of drug addiction and alcohol abuse, many kids will snort cocaine to experiment and then fall down the path of drug abuse.
Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant. It falls under the stimulants category. These drugs increase alertness and energy, which is why sometimes kids use them at parties. This practice can be hazardous as kids often mix other drugs or alcohol with cocaine to intensify the experience. Mixing substances can increase the risk of overdose, which can be fatal.
Unfortunately, cocaine is a highly addictive drug. To say someone is a sporadic cocaine user is almost impossible. From the moment someone tries cocaine for the first time, it starts rewiring the brain to produce dependence. The high is so intense that most people will continue to try to recreate it. Eventually, most people develop physical and mental dependence on cocaine.
As a result, they think about cocaine all the time, don’t feel good unless they use cocaine and act differently when they use it. When they stop using cocaine suddenly, the balance of chemicals in their brain changes, causing withdrawal symptoms.
First Signs Your Child is Using Cocaine
Initially, the first signs of drug use will be behavioral. Cocaine abuse will start to be noticeable through patterns, troubles at school, and fights with family and friends. The first indicators of drug use are:
- Showing up late or missing school
- Not caring about things that used to matter to them
- Not keeping promises
- Getting in trouble with the law or breaking the rules
- Getting violent with other people
- Engaging in risky behaviors
Physical Signs of Cocaine
Cocaine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. That means it speeds up how the body processes and sends information. Cocaine also causes a surge in energy, which can last even after the main effects of the drug have worn off. If your child or loved one is often restless, you may want to scrutinize their other behaviors for signs of cocaine use.
Much like extreme restlessness, twitching is another common sign of cocaine use. Cocaine’s stimulant properties are responsible for this side effect. If your child or loved one is twitching more than usual, this may be a sign of cocaine use.
Although some use smoke or inject cocaine, most prefer to sniff the drug. After sniffing cocaine, users will experience a “drip.” The drip is when cocaine drips from membranes in the nose down the throat. To combat this waste of drugs, users will often sniffle. Frequent causes of the sniffles may mean that your child or loved one has been using cocaine.
Other signs that your child is using cocaine will be more physical. These symptoms of cocaine abuse or dependence might be mild at first, but will get worse over time:
- Being overexcited, nervous, and having extra energy
- Complaining about belly pain, nausea, or loss of appetite
- Talking and thinking too fast
- Sweating or having a rapid heartbeat
- Having dilated pupils all the time
Evident Signs of Cocaine Use
Many parents worry when they believe they’ve found drugs in their child’s bedroom. Most of the time, their intuition is correct. Drug paraphernalia is a key indicator of substance use and abuse. While it can be challenging to spot some substances, cocaine paraphernalia is easy to differentiate.
Things like short, chopped straws, rolled-up dollar bills, small baggies or vials with white residue, razor blades, scratched up mirrors or CD cases, crack pipes, and syringes are all types of cocaine paraphernalia. If you find these in a child or loved one’s possessions, they’re probably using cocaine.
Cocaine Withdrawal Signs
Cocaine works by releasing large amounts of dopamine and then blocking how cells reabsorb the neurotransmitter. In addition to causing euphoria, this surge in dopamine causes the body to release adrenaline and speed up all major systems. As a result, increased heart rate and blood pressure are common.
Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine are not the same as heroin withdrawals. Rather than producing a physical dependence, cocaine produces an incredible mental craving.
Common withdrawal symptoms include irritability, restlessness, increased appetite, sleeping for extended periods (sometimes upwards of twenty-four hours), depression, and anxiety. Another common withdrawal symptom from cocaine addiction is numbness.
What Can I Do If My Child is Using Cocaine?
Unfortunately, there’s no quick answer for what to do if your child or loved one is using cocaine. It’s a process, and the first step is to learn as much as you can about cocaine and your child’s use.
Essential questions to ask include: What are the long-term side effects of cocaine? How dangerous is it? What are the different routes of administration and the associated risks? How much cocaine is your child or loved one using? How long have they been using it? Do they want to stop? If so, what type of help is best suited for them?
Reaching a drug treatment center for assistance is an excellent way to seek for yourself and your child. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our coordinators can answer all your doubts and help you stage an intervention if you need one to help your child seek treatment. Cocaine addiction can be a life-threatening disease. Seeking help today is paramount for your child’s long-term recovery.
We can help you figure out the best addiction treatment program and healthcare path to help your child get better. Our programs incorporate support groups, family therapy that allows patients to spend time with their family, and more. If you believe your child is using drugs, don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance and guidance today.