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Early Signs of Cocaine Use

author image Cynthia Bateman
Cynthia Bateman is a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where she is pursuing her Master of Arts in English with an emphasis in composition pedagogy. She has most recently been published in the literary journal, "River Bluff Review." She is also a registered professional nurse.
Early Signs of Cocaine Use
Bloodshot eyes and dilated pupil are signs of cocaine use. Photo Credit Jeffrey Banke/iStock/Getty Images


Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that is illegal in the United States. According to Drugs.com, the powder form of cocaine can be snorted up the nose or rubbed on areas of the skin like the gums or genitals. The powder can also be mixed with water and injected directly into the veins. Cocaine is a stimulant, which means it causes everything in the body to speed up, including the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. Recognizing the early signs of cocaine use may lead to earlier intervention and recovery.

Physical Signs

Cocaine causes the pupils to dilate, or become larger. Normal pupil size ranges from 3 to 4 mm. The pupils of a cocaine user dilate to 6 to 8 mm, and the whites of the eyes become bloodshot, according to the National Institute on Chemical Dependency. Use of cocaine causes the mouth and nose to become dry. If the cocaine is snorted up the nose, a user may develop frequent nose bleeds from the drug irritating the nasal passages.

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Possession of Paraphernalia

The National Institute on Chemical Dependency reports that a cocaine users may be in possession of certain paraphernalia used to prepare or ingest the drug. Items like small plastic, glass or metal straws, mirrors and razor blades can be used to snort cocaine. Small containers with white powder residue may be used to store the drug.

Change In Eating Or Sleeping Habits

Drugs.com reports that loss of appetite is one side effect of cocaine use. A person using cocaine may begin to lose weight at an alarming rate. He may also develop unusual sleep habits. A cocaine user may experience less fatigue due to the stimulant effect of the drug. He may go for longer periods of time without sleeping or sleep at hours that are out of character for him.

Changes in Socialization

People who use drugs want to socialize with people who also use drugs. Suddenly adopting a new social circle that is different from former social choices may be a sign of cocaine use. Also, abandoning past friendships or relationships in favor of the new social crowd may be indicative of cocaine use. Cocaine users may engage in excessive activity and may demonstrate difficulty sitting still due to the stimulant effect of the drug. They may be talkative but change topics quickly or engage in conversation that lacks coherence.

Frequent Need for Money

Cocaine is an expensive drug. The National Institute on Chemical Dependency reports that the high cost of cocaine is often what makes users become dealers of the drug. A person using cocaine may start to sell or trade his possessions for money or drugs. If a user becomes desperate, he may steal money or possessions to sell.

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