Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant, which grows in South America. It is a type of drug called a stimulant, which means it increases alertness and energy. Cocaine can be inhaled through the nose in powder form ("snorting"), injected into a vein, or smoked. Crack, a less expensive form of cocaine that is smoked, has made cocaine abuse a widespread problem.
Cocaine use disorder is a pattern of using cocaine that leads to serious personal, family, and health problems. The more of these statements that apply to your child, the more severe his cocaine use disorder is.
Cocaine use disorder may also be called drug abuse, substance abuse, dependence, or addiction.
The cause of cocaine use disorder is not known. The brain makes chemicals that affect thoughts, emotions, and actions. Cocaine changes the balance of these chemicals in your child’s brain. When he uses cocaine regularly, his brain starts to get used to it. As a result, your child doesn't feel right unless he uses cocaine. When he stops using cocaine suddenly, the balance of chemicals in his brain changes, which causes the symptoms of withdrawal.
Your child has a higher risk of becoming dependent on drugs if he:
The symptoms of cocaine use disorder depend on how much and how often your child uses cocaine. The symptoms can be mild to severe, such as:
If your child snorts cocaine, your child may have:
If your child smokes cocaine, your child may have symptoms of a lung infection, such as a cough or mucus in his lungs.
Your child may also have symptoms of new or worse health problems caused by cocaine use. Health problems caused by cocaine include.
The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can be mild to severe. Your child may have some of these symptoms when he stops taking cocaine:
The feelings that your child gets from cocaine only last a short time. This causes your child to crave more cocaine to get the feelings back. Your child may binge, which means your child take large amounts of cocaine for several days. The binge is followed be a "crash," where your child feels very sad and depressed. Then your child starts all over again. This pattern of cocaine use can lead to an overdose. A cocaine overdose can be life threatening.
Pregnant girls using cocaine are at high risk of having a miscarriage, premature delivery, or low birth weight baby. Babies born to mothers who use cocaine are addicted at birth. The babies have to go through the painful process of withdrawal.
Your healthcare provider will ask how much and how often your child uses cocaine. Your child needs to be honest about his drug use. Your provider needs this information to give your child the right treatment. He or she will also ask about your child’s symptoms, medical history and give your child a physical exam. Your child may have blood or urine tests.
Cocaine use disorder can be treated. For any treatment to be successful, your child must want to stop using cocaine. When your child stops using cocaine, his or her healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to help get through withdrawal symptoms. Your child should not use alcohol and other drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
If your child wants to quit, get help.
Self-help groups such as Cocaine Anonymous, support groups, and therapy may be helpful. Kinds of therapy may include:
Recovery is a long-term process. Many people with substance use disorders try to quit more than once before they finally succeed. Don't give up. Your child can quit and quit for good. Get help and try again. Follow-up treatment is very important so that your child doesn’t go back to using drugs.
If your child has overdosed, or is having severe withdrawal symptoms he will need to be treated in a hospital. He will also be treated for any health problems such as a heart attack or stroke, or other life-threatening problems.
You can help prevent cocaine abuse if you:
People and resources in your community that can help include your healthcare providers, therapists, support groups, mental health centers, and alcohol or substance abuse treatment programs. You may want to contact: