Cocaine is a drug made from the coca plant. It causes a short-lived high that is immediately followed by intense feelings of depression, edginess, and a craving for more of the drug. Cocaine may be snorted as a powder, converted to a liquid form for injection with a needle, or processed into a crystal form (crack) to be smoked.
When children first start using cocaine, they do it to feel good. When use of the drug is causing problems, it is abuse. When a child cannot feel good without the drug or the child needs increasing amounts of the drug to get high, the child has become dependent on the drug.
Cocaine interferes with the way the brain processes chemicals that create feelings of pleasure. Children who abuse cocaine start to lose interest in other areas of their life, like school, friends, and sports. Progress from abuse to dependence (addiction) can be rapid.
Children who abuse cocaine over a long period may be jumpy, irritable, and depressed. They don't eat or sleep regularly. They may have a fast heart rate, muscle spasms, and even convulsions. If they snort cocaine, they can also permanently damage their nasal tissue. They may also:
First the healthcare provider will treat the physical complications. Complications of cocaine abuse may include:
For any treatment to be successful, your child must want to give up cocaine. The most important part of treatment is for your child to be in a drug-free environment. Treatment for cocaine abuse is long-term. Your child’s healthcare providers and counselors will work with you and your child to develop a treatment program.
While your child is withdrawing from cocaine, he or she may be tempted to use alcohol or other drugs to reduce restlessness, depression, and anxiety. Seek professional help so that your child does not switch to other harmful drugs. Medicines prescribed by your healthcare provider can help treat mood changes that may occur with cocaine withdrawal.
Abusing cocaine for a long time can cause serious physical problems. Long-term effects can include abnormal heart rhythms, breathing problems, ongoing stomach pain and nausea, constant headaches, stroke, and seizures. It can also cause psychological problems such as memory loss, depression, and paranoia (believing that other people are out to get you).
You can help prevent cocaine abuse if you:
If you suspect a problem, seek help from your child's healthcare provider or a mental health professional.
Call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) at 1-800-729-6686.