Cocaine Addiction and Senior Citizens

While many people assume that senior citizens do not abuse drugs, there is evidence to the contrary. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 2005, 184,400 Americans who were admitted to drug rehab programs; 10% of the total was over 50 years old, up from 143,000, or 8% of the total, four years earlier. SAMHSA also estimates that there will be 4.4 million older substance abusers by 2020. Senior citizens and their loved ones should be aware of the signs of substance abuse, including those of stimulants like cocaine.

The Effects of Cocaine on Senior Citizens

The effects of cocaine appear almost immediately after a single dose and disappear within a few minutes or within an hour. Even in small amounts, cocaine can make a person feel the following:

  • Euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Impulsive talkativeness
  • Mental alertness
  • Overly responsive to sensations of sight, sound, and touch
  • Decreased need for food and sleep

Even if some of the sensations are considered pleasant, there are many negative implications that are present from the onset and can lead to more harmful outcomes. While all drugs affect individuals differently, we can assume the effects of cocaine would be similar on older adults as they are on younger users.

Signs of Cocaine Abuse

If you are concerned that an elderly loved one is using cocaine, you should be aware of the signs of abuse. The warning signs of a person using cocaine can be observed by changes in his or her physical presence, emotions, mental responsiveness, and behaviors, and may include the following:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose
  • Nose bleed
  • Tremors
  • Chills
  • Sniffing
  • Perspiration
  • Hyper activity
  • Elevated speech pattern
  • Isolation
  • Changes in friends
  • Change in work or school performance
  • Suicidal
  • Missing work
  • Stealing
  • Lying
  • Withdrawing from normal activities

Cocaine is often used as an appetite-suppressant, therefore skipping meals or weight loss can be a sign of abuse. Also, because it’s a powerful stimulant, users typically have problems falling asleep or suffer from disruptive, inconsistent sleep patterns, which may lead to a disregard for personal hygiene—showering, shaving or keeping one’s appearance neat. Because cocaine is expensive, users are typically propelled into financial problems as a result.

Signs and behaviors associated with “crashing” such as sleeping for long periods of time, becoming depressed and non-responsive, or demonstrating feelings of paranoia, anxiousness, irritability, and agitation can also signal a cocaine addiction. If you see several of these signs, look further. If you see many of these signs, it is time to act to help the senior get the treatment he or she needs.

Cocaine and the Body of a Senior Citizen

While symptoms of cocaine usage obviously affect the eyes, throat, blood vessels, and the heart, other body systems are impacted as well.

  • Brain – Cocaine affects the pleasure centers in the brain and actually interferes with, alters, and damages these specialized cells.
  • Central nervous system – Cocaine impacts blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and respiration. Extended use of cocaine can actually cause stokes, brain seizures, respiratory failure, even death.
  • Liver and Bladder – Cocaine causes instability in the bladder and damages the liver’s ability to do its job. A distressed liver can lead to hepatitis and other serious ailments.
  • Intestines – Cocaine reduces the blood supply and can cause nausea, diarrhea, and inflammation.
  • Reproductive system – Cocaine negatively affects a person’s desire to have sex, decreases performance, and may lead to impotence and infertility.

Even on a young, healthy body, cocaine causes significant damage; for a more aged and fragile body, cocaine abuse can be a death sentence.

Get Help for Cocaine Addiction

If you or someone you know is addicted to cocaine, call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about drug addiction services and rehabilitation facilities.

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