As difficult as these behavioral and emotional problems are, there will also be physical symptoms, such as blood-borne diseases and changes in heart rhythm. When the addict is using crack cocaine, there will often be burns on the fingers or lips since it is smoked. An observer may also notice white powder around the user’s nose from snorting the drug or needle tracks in the skin from using a syringe to inject cocaine in a liquid form. Having a crack pipe is a clear sign of the use of crack cocaine. The addict may disappear for a few moments so they can go somewhere and use the drug secretly. Dilated pupils; runny nose and even nosebleeds will eventually develop in people who snort the drug.
Long-term use of cocaine may result in lasting damage to the body and/or the mind. Watch for depression or for difficulty sleeping even though the person feels tired. They may appear very unhappy with no real reason to feel that way. Nasal perforation; increase in body temperature and gangrene in the lower intestine are also common symptoms of long-term cocaine use. As the body and mind adapt to cocaine use, the victim of addiction will develop intense cravings for the drug. Malnutrition, sexual dysfunction and muscle twitches are also common symptoms of long-term cocaine use. Cocaine use is especially hard on the heart. The victim of cocaine use usually develops a fast heart rate; increased heart rate; increased blood pressure; an enlarged heart or even cardiac arrest. The longer cocaine use continues, the more intense the symptoms may become.
To an outsider, it may be very difficult to understand why a person would do this to themselves. One important reason is that the drug produces strong cravings in the addict. More generally, cocaine use has become the addict’s primary or only skill for managing their life. It is how they cope with the difficulties, challenges and sufferings of life. Therefore, the addict may be unable or fearful of living without this coping mechanism. While most of us have a variety of skills for coping with life, the victim of cocaine addiction has only used one skill with any frequency: getting high on cocaine.
If you are the addict and you are engaging in recovery from cocaine use, then you must work to learn and practice coping skills that do not involve the use of cocaine. There will still be challenges and sufferings in your life, but you must learn new and better ways to manage those problems.