Cocaine Addiction in Teens

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Cocaine addiction is a serious problem. It’s highly dangerous for teens. In addition, teen brains are still developing, so they’re more vulnerable. Although young people use cocaine less than in previous decades, it is still one of many drug-related issues.

Expensive and destructive, cocaine addiction among teens can cause significant harm. Also, it is dangerous to the adolescent mind and body. In order to help cocaine addiction, parents must recognize the signs and symptoms to find appropriate treatment.

How Teens Are Using Cocaine

Crack addiction is just as harmful and prevalent among teenagers today as cocaine addiction. Crack, a different form of cocaine, is smoked in a pipe rather than snorted in lines. However, the effects are very similar. In addition, it can lead to the same negative health consequences as cocaine.

Understanding vital information about crack and cocaine addiction in teens can help parents identify the problem and get help before it is too late.

 Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are more likely to continue abusing cocaine and crack if they begin to use as a teen. Studies also show that the percentage of use of both drugs has more than doubled from teen to adult years. It’s clear that early abuse of cocaine and crack is not just harmless experimentation and if parents find that their teen is abusing either drug, we encourage you to intervene immediately.

Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

The most significant signs of cocaine and crack addiction are seen in personality changes. Mood swings, irritability, frequent trips to the bathroom, secretive behavior, and changes in friends often signify drug abuse. As an adult, be on the lookout for a constant runny nose or sniffling, nosebleeds, and changes in sleeping and eating habits.

When your teen is actively under the influence of cocaine, you may notice symptoms that include:

  • Talkativeness
  • Excessive amounts of energy
  • Manic behavior
  • Development of grandiose, unattainable plans
  • Lack of appetite

When the drug begins to wear off, you may notice:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Excessive sleep

There are also several withdrawal symptoms of cocaine addiction, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • A general lack of content with life
  • Nightmares
  • Irritability
  • Increase in appetite
  • Sluggishness
  • Restlessness
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal behavior

See: Other Signs of Drug Abuse

The Ways Teens Abuse Crack and Cocaine

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there are three ways that cocaine and crack are ingested by teens. These are smoking, snorting and injecting with needles.
  1. Smoking: Cocaine can be smoked, with or without being mixed with marijuana, off of a piece of tin foil or in a pipe. Crack is often found in rock form and the primary method of ingestion is smoking.
  2. Snorting: Snorting is the primary form of ingestion for the powder form of cocaine. Young adults may snort lines or “bumps,” tiny mounds, which allows for quick absorption.
  3. Injecting: Injecting is a more intense form of use. Teens will dissolve the powder form of the drug in a small amount of water and inject the liquid into their bloodstream. Smoking provides the same intense experience as injecting without the needles.

The Dangers of Cocaine Addiction in Young Adults

What makes teen cocaine addiction so dangerous? In addition to being one of the most addictive drugs, all forms of cocaine are extremely volatile. There are additives used to cut pure cocaine to increase profits for dealers. In addition, these additives can be toxic. Furthermore, because there are no standards for production and it is illegal, one never knows what they are taking. As a result, this increases the chance of overdose or toxicity.

Even a small amount of cocaine taken regularly can ultimately lead to addiction. Hence, this can mean a number of serious health problems. Some of these health issues can be treated while others can be permanent.

The social, emotional, and personal effects of cocaine and crack addiction are vast. Teens often lose contact with positive peers, decline academically, and have problems with family members. As crack and cocaine addiction define them, they may lose themselves. Consequently, their self-esteem and their hope for the future wanes.

Parents need to take action immediately if they find that their teen is abusing crack or cocaine.

Cocaine Effects on the Brain

According to National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cocaine and crack provide users with a high by increasing the levels of dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter released in the brain that is connected to the experience of pleasure and reward. When this chemical is released by natural means, it is usually shut off when it is recycled back into the brain cell that released it. This process does not happen when the chemical is released by cocaine or crack abuse. Instead, the drug blocks the reabsorption of dopamine back into the brain which causes large amounts of the pleasure chemical to build up. As a result, the user feels high or euphoric.

When this happens repeatedly, long-term changes to the brain’s structure occur. This is an even bigger risk for teens, as their brains are developing and growing at a rapid pace. .

Cocaine Effects on the Body

The body of a teen can suffer as many negative effects from cocaine abuse as the brain does. Elevated heart rate, blood pressure, dilated pupils and constricted blood vessels are common. As a result, headache and gastrointestinal illnesses like cramping, nausea and vomiting can occur. Malnutrition is also another major effect on the body, due to the decrease in appetite caused by the drug.

According to NIDA, the method of ingestion can mean different sets of effects on the body. Snorting cocaine can result in nosebleeds, loss of smell, runny nose, chronic sore throat, hoarseness and problems with swallowing. Injecting cocaine results in a higher chance of contracting blood borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.  All methods of ingestion can lead to irritability, restlessness, paranoid psychosis, cardiovascular emergencies and sudden death due to overdose.

Cocaine Addiction and Transmissible Diseases

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) report that cocaine users are more prone to transmissible diseases. Sharing drug paraphernalia including pipes and needles with those who are infected with these diseases can increase a teen’s chances of contracting the illness.

According to the NIH, studies show that teens who abuse cocaine are just as likely to contract HIV, whether or not they use needles as their preferred method of ingestion. However, teens who use needles expose themselves to risk the very first time they shoot cocaine and after two years of continual abuse of the drug, about 40 percent of patients have been exposed to hepatitis C. Consequently, after five years of needle use, patients have increased their risk of contracting hepatitis C by 50 to 80 percent.

Unfortunately, there are no vaccines to prevent a teen from contracting HIV or hepatitis C. The best method of prevention is cocaine addiction treatment.

Teen Rehab Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

There are a variety of teen cocaine rehab options available today. Teen treatment options vary in price and appropriateness. However, the right choice of treatment is ultimately determined by each patient’s specific needs. Evidence-based treatment options include residential treatment, outpatient centers, counseling, therapy and support groups. Also, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been proven to be extremely effective in the treatment of cocaine addiction and in helping teens to avoid relapse after treatment.

At Newport Academy, we provide comprehensive care that includes a variety of therapies, medication if necessary, and care and treatment for any co-occurring mental health issues.

Academic support and family therapy are two instrumental parts of our treatment as well as group therapy, personal therapy and experiential therapy options. In addition, parents are encouraged to take an active role in their teen’s treatment. Parents are also encouraged to attend educational workshops and parent support groups to maintain their own mental health. This is to ensure that they are as supportive as possible of their teen’s recovery. Learning as much as possible about your teen’s addiction and staying up to date on their progress throughout the treatment program will help you to avoid enabling your teen’s addiction and instead help them to avoid relapse.

Contact us today to learn more and to help your teen begin the process of healing.