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How to Spot and Help a Cocaine User

Posted on February 15, 2022

How to Spot and Help a Cocaine User

If you’re worried about someone and think they might be using cocaine, then it might feel initially overwhelming. You’re probably unsure what to do. Should you confront them, or their close ones? Or wait for them to admit it to you?

In reality, the longer the individual abuses cocaine and any form of drug, then the worse the consequences will be for not only them but those around them too.

Therefore, it’s important to know and understand the warning signs so that you can help them seek the right kind of help as soon as possible.

What actually is cocaine? [1]

Cocaine is a drug that derives from South America. It’s grown from a coca plant. A few hundred years ago, it was even used to treat depression.

However, for the last 60 years, people have been abusing the drug, whether that be on a night out, an office cubicle or the toilets.

The reality is that cocaine abuse has very nasty and damaging short and long term side effects. Nowadays, if you’re found in possession of the drug then you can be arrested.

There are also now many codes and nicknames for the drug which include:

  • Candy
  • Blow
  • Flakes
  • White dust
  • C
  • Snow
  • Powder

There are two forms of cocaine [2]:

  • Powder cocaine is a white powder that is often mixed with other substances such as talk or sugar.
  • Crack cocaine looks like a rock crystal that people burn and smoke. It’s called crack because it makes a crackling noise when the rocks are melted.

Common Symptoms of Someone Who’s Abusing Cocaine

It’s important to spot the warning signs of someone who’s addicted to cocaine so that you can help them get the right help.

There is actually a long list of symptoms and warning signs that will help you to spot when someone is struggling.

These side effects can start quickly after the drug was taken (15-30 minutes after consuming the drug [1]) or can be more long term.

On top of these common side effects, you should also be on the lookout for drug paraphernalia such as spoons and needles, rolled up notes and a form of white powder lying around.

Some more symptoms and warning signs include [1]:

  • Sugar spots (white powder surrounding the nose)
  • Fast and irregular breathing
  • Eye sensitivity to light
  • Bloodshot, dry or watery eyes
  • Excessive levels of energy
  • Struggling to sleep
  • Frequent headaches
  • Fevers
  • Scars from needles
  • Frequent nose bleeds
  • Puffy face and cheeks
  • Testing positive for other diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis.
  • Loss of appetite for food
  • Regularly asking for money
  • Stealing money

What to do to Help Someone Suffering from a Cocaine Addiction

Below we list a number of ways you can help someone who you believe is suffering from cocaine addiction.

Learn and Understand the Warning Signs

This is by far one of the best things you can do during the early stages. Dedicate as much time as you possibly can to understanding addiction and its signs.

Once you’re armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to spot any symptoms and notice when they are or aren’t taking the drug.

Once you can do this, you’re in a much better position to confront the individual and help them.

Be Open that You’re Concerned about Them

Once you’re confident that there’s a chance they might be abusing cocaine, you should definitely approach them and discuss your worries and concerns.

You should do this in a relaxed environment, with maybe one or two supporters with you. It’s important that you take a sympathetic and caring tone, and that you don’t come across as angry or upset.

This will make it a lot easier for them to be open with you, too.

Make Sure You’re Being Looked After Aswell

If you’re worried about an individual abusing cocaine, then you’re likely to feel a range of emotions from guilt, worry, panic and stress.

Therefore it’s important that you prioritise your health as well as theirs. You should make more of an effort to stay fit and healthy by exercising regularly, sleeping eight hours a night and making sure you’re getting your three meals a day.

Try and take part in activities that will make you feel relaxed. Whether that’s going to a spa or just taking a bath.

Once you’re feeling less stressed in general, you’ll be in a much better headspace to approach the individual and tackle the problem.

Encourage Them to Get Professional Help

Once you’ve approached the individual and they’ve admitted there is a problem, then you should talk about the next steps such as treatment.

Because cocaine is a highly addictive and very strong drug, then it’s very likely that the individual will need professional help such as rehab.

However, the first step is seeking help from a medical professional such as their local GP. This will then kick off the recovery process.

What Not to Do to Help Someone Who Is Suffering From a Cocaine Addiction

Below we’ve listed things you should NOT do in order to help someone who you believe is suffering from cocaine addiction.

Judge their Addiction

When you’re talking to the individual, try not to come across as judgemental or condescending.

If you don’t have much experience dealing with people who abuse drugs, then you may really struggle at first to stay calm and collected when talking about their addiction.

However, coming across as judgemental and confrontational will only make them retreat further away from you and into the arms of the drug.

Enable their Behaviour in Any Way

Of course, why would anyone actively want to enable their behaviour in any way? In reality, you might be enabling someone to take drugs without even knowing it.

This might be making excuses for them, defending them to other people or giving them money when they ask for it.

By doing all of these things, although they might seem helpful at first, it only allows them to continue abusing the drug and stops them from taking responsibility for their actions.

Although it’s really tough, you should come down hard and stop these enabling behaviours.

Spotting Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person who’s addicted to cocaine stops all of a sudden, then they will experience withdrawal symptoms.

It’s important to understand these withdrawal symptoms so that they’re not confused with symptoms caused by taking the drug.

These withdrawal symptoms include a long list of painful and nasty side effects such as:

What to Do if You Suspect Someone is Using Cocaine

If you suspect that someone you know is taking cocaine, then it’s important to understand their symptoms and approach them calmly.

You could look into hosting an intervention that involves gathering a select few individuals who also care about the individual to approach them together.

During the intervention, you should advise that they should seek medical advice from their local GP, and you could even suggest going along with them to the appointment for moral support.

This has proven to be an effective way of treating people for a power addiction and you should actively encourage them to talk to their local GP, a helpline service or a help group [3].






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