It’s not always easy to tell if someone is using a drug like crack cocaine; however, there are symptoms for which you might look. Cocaine, in particular, may be subtle, so if a person is only using occasionally or only using a small amount, the use might not be readily detectable. However, as the use of the drug grows, so do the signs of usage, and these symptoms can range from very slight, such as a nosebleed, to extreme, such as a heart attack.
Both cocaine and crack cocaine produce immediate and short-lived euphoria, which will make the user feel more energetic. In that sense, there’s some similarity to caffeine, where the cocaine will cause alertness and reduce hunger. The psychological effects may be feelings of well-being, an increased, even grandiose, sense of power and ability, although this may be mixed in with restlessness and anxiety. When the drug wears off, the user might experience deep depression, and then a “crash,” wherein the user becomes lethargic, and, depending on the amount taken, might sleep off and on for a few days.
If a user is high on cocaine, he or she may have dilated pupils; if the cocaine is snorted, the user may sniff often and rub at the nose; speech may be louder than normal, even sped up and particularly chatty; more gestures than normal may accompany the speech. Regular use of cocaine may cause any number of psychological problems, such as depression, paranoia, mania, anxiety, even hallucinations and schizophrenia-like behavior.
In the case of crack cocaine, a user may have all of the above symptoms, but also is more inclined to aggressive and paranoid behavior. A binge and crash pattern is also similar to those abusing regular powder cocaine. Because crack cocaine is smoked, a regular user may also have wheezing and chest congestion.
While anyone might experience these symptoms for other reasons — nose bleeds, manic behavior, short-lived euphoria followed by lethargy and depression — if you know someone has the potential for crack cocaine abuse and is exhibiting these signs, then there you may have cause to investigate further.