Drug users are not always addicts. When one uses a drug recreationally and can walk away from it without suffering from withdrawal, he is not reliant upon it. Only a small percentage of drug users, however, is able to resist the lure of drugs once they start taking narcotics, cocaine, or meth. Looking specifically at cocaine, how can a person tell when he is suffering from addiction? What are the signs and how does a person recover?

Recognizing the Problem

An addict becomes enslaved to the drug he craves, a situation apparent by his actions, attitudes, and appearance. At first, the cost is within his means, but eventually a drug abuser uses up his savings and looks for other avenues.

He will abuse the generosity of friends and family members in order to acquire money. Retirement or education savings are cashed in, even a child’s college fund if it is not in trust. An original amount of cocaine is no longer enough: the addict needs more every day and continues to increase usage over time.

Physically, friends can see the change in a cocaine addict. He loses weight and suffers from conditions caused by poor nutrition. He does not feel hungry, so fails to eat, resulting in pale skin, brittle nails, hair loss, poor immunity, and brittle bones. Tooth decay causes pain but eventually others can see it too. His sinuses suffer and he experiences nose bleeds and/or infections; possibly worse.

Emotionally, the drug abuser fails to enjoy life the way he used to. Nothing is fun; his feelings for others are overwhelmed by the need for cocaine which he thinks about every waking hour. Cocaine causes insomnia, anti-social behaviors like violence and grumpiness. Pulling away from friends, family, and even his job, the addict eventually becomes depressed and steals from friends or strangers in order to pay for his habit.

Co-dependents and Cocaine Addiction

Someone who has experimented with cocaine but is able to see he needs help can check into outpatient rehab where he will go through counseling. He might not require detox or hospitalization, especially if drug abuse has not caused illness.

Addiction is often unseen by the addict, however, and the concerns of others are viewed as interference. A cocaine abuser will tell a worried mother or spouse that she is imagining things.

If verbal unkindness leads to abuse, co-dependents (loved ones of the addict) should not enable the addict by making excuses: violence can easily get out of hand when drugs are involved. It might be necessary to move to a safe location or to get the courts involved in order to keep this person away.

Taking action early will potentially remove some of the dangers and hassles associated with co-dependency; before intervention seems impossible. Get together with the people closest to the drug abuser and make a plan. Consult with an interventionist, often available through social services, unless you know of a private counselor with a strong reputation in this field.

Involve this person and take her advice about what to do. Participants in an intervention must agree to meet with their loved one all at the same time, in a safe place, possibly with the intervention specialist present, and to stick with a plan of action.

It might sound cruel, but there will be an ultimatum. If anyone gives way to the pleadings of their loved one, this can ruin the outcome, so only involve those who can be relied upon to hold their ground.

An ultimatum might be that the cocaine abuser enter rehab and stick with the program or a spouse will file for separation and take the kids far away. Parents might force an addicted child to leave the family home.


What will rehabilitation look like? It starts with treatment at a hospital known as “detox.” This is a period of controlled withdrawal monitored by a physician and other health care workers. They are present to support the individual emotionally and physically as he suffers from severe anxiety, headaches, and even potentially suicidal ideations. To ensure these are not carried through, a patient is monitored 24/7 in a medical facility.

This is followed by rehabilitation when the patient is medically ready to take part. Rehab can take place either in a residential facility or on an outpatient basis, chosen as a result of the severity of a person’s condition, pre-existing mental health problems (known as “dual diagnosis”), and personal preference.

Purpose of Rehab

The end result of rehabilitation is not that one is cured of addiction. It’s likely the drug abuser will always crave a substance, or will be fighting that craving during stressful times or in social settings.

The desirable outcome of treatment is that a patient will learn to recognize what triggers a craving and learn other ways to manage his feelings. He will assess lifestyle choices, undergo counseling, and possibly start taking medication for previously untreated disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia which make recovery harder.