If you have a strong sense that a friend or loved one is using cocaine, chances are you’re right. There are several changes in a person’s social or professional behavior that could indicate an addiction to cocaine. Here are some of the things you should be looking for to confirm your suspicion, so that you can get your family member help right away.
Inability to manage money. Cocaine is extremely expensive. It’s not uncommon for a person to spend a few hundred dollars in one night on the drug—which may be gone in just a few hours. If a loved one who is normally pretty organized in the budget department starts to pay bills late, or doesn’t have enough money to pay for necessary things like gas or groceries, this could be a sign of cocaine addiction. Cocaine addicts will also ask friends and family for money often in order to support their habit. It is also likely that a cocaine addict will also display erratic behavior in addition to incorrectly managing money.
Attending lots of social events—or not attending any social events. Some people begin to use cocaine because they think it will make them more comfortable in social situations. The drug is a stimulant, which means it can make a person who is usually shy and withdrawn hyper and talkative. If your friend suddenly wants to party every weekend (or sometimes during the week) when they usually enjoy quiet nights in, continue watching their behavior. This could be a sign that he/she is addicted to cocaine. Cocaine can also have a “crashing” effect, so that after the “high” is experienced, a person will be depressed and reclusive, and not want to be around people. When you notice these extreme changes in behavior in a loved one, it may be time to get help.
Breaking promises or not meeting obligations. A person who is addicted to cocaine will not be able to perform well consistently at work. He/she is also not equipped to handle the responsibilities of a relationship or a family. When a friend is unable to complete work assignments consistently and asks you for help often (and becomes intensely angry when you can’t oblige), or a family member neglects his/her children for days at a time, cocaine addiction may be the reason. If you make plans with a group of friends, and the person you suspect is abusing cocaine always declines at the last minute, you may need to schedule an intervention.
Pushing people away to make room for “new friends.” A cocaine addict doesn’t want anything or anyone to get in the way of his/her addiction. This often means cutting off dependable friends and family members for “friends” who can supply drugs. If you notice that your close friends are not spending time with you or mutual friends anymore, or if your family members are no attending regular family events, drug addiction could be the problem. These people may also become angry and defensive when you try to address the problem or ask about their social behavior. This is usually an indication that you need to contact a drug treatment center in your area to get your loved one the necessary assistance for drug recovery.
Becoming manipulative. A person who is addicted to cocaine will do and say whatever they have to to get more of the drug—or to get the money to purchase cocaine. If this means telling you an untrue sob story that will pull at your heartstrings so that you’ll give money or take care of a household responsibility (e.g. babysitting for extended periods or keeping the house clean), a cocaine addict will do it. Some addicts will try to make you feel guilty for not giving them money, and will accuse you of not caring for them. If you’re experiencing this manipulation, your loved one needs help right away.
Seeking help. If a loved one has started displaying some of the traits listed above, maybe it is time you seek help. Families can opt to perform a home drug test on a member who is accused of abusing drugs, to preserve trust and privacy for their loved one. It is never too late to get help for someone who cannot seem to help themselves. Contact the National Institute on Drug Abuse for more information on abuse and treatment.