Cocaine use may be declining among teens, but that doesn’t make it any less of a concern for parents. How many teens use cocaine? The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported in 2014 that nearly 913,000 Americans showed signs of addiction to cocaine and crack. This number is down from the 1.4 million cases in the organization’s 2008 report. The decrease began in 2009, with the college students in particular representing the most dramatic decline.
The same study showed that first-time cocaine and crack use often occurs between ages 16 to 20. A separate study in 2015 revealed that 29% of 12th graders said that it would at least “fairly easy” for them to buy cocaine. Fortunately, 85% of them said that they do not approve of cocaine use.
Cocaine is made from the coca plant, which is grown across the world, especially in South America. By extracting and purifying compounds from the plant, it is possible to isolate cocaine. There are limited legitimate medical uses for cocaine, making it a Schedule II narcotic. However, street cocaine is regularly “cut” with other substances, and is highly addictive.
The white, powdery form is cocaine hydrochloride salt. Known as “blow,” “coke” and “snow,” this form of cocaine is snorted into the nose through a straw or rolled-up paper. Others mix the powdered cocaine with water and inject it, while still others simply rub it on their gums.
When purchased, it is rarely pure and has been adulterated with cheap substitutes, such as baking soda, aspirin, or cornstarch. Often, it contains other psychoactive substances like methamphetamine. Every batch is different, so it’s very difficult to know what substances a given dose of cocaine may actually contain, and how they may affect you.
Another form of cocaine is known as crack. This type is created by removing the hydrochloride from the cocaine (i.e., “freeing the base”), which in turn makes the substance smokable. The crystalline crack rocks can be heated and smoked for an intense but short-lived high. Crack cocaine is cheaper than cocaine hydrochloride but is even more addictive.
It can be a challenge to identify the signs of cocaine use and addiction, especially if your teen is intent on keeping it from you. Nevertheless, it’s smart to keep an eye out for:
Also, cocaine use involves some paraphernalia, which may include straws, rolled-up dollar bills, hollowed-out pens, mirrors or smooth surfaces (often with residue), razor blades, and tiny baggies or cut-off corners of sandwich bags. Crack, meanwhile, usually involves a glass pipe or tube, burnt foil, copper wool (like Chore Boy brand), and, of course, lighters.
Cocaine has an immediate effect, making users feel energetic, confident and chatty. Teens in particular may be attracted to the sense of social confidence it confers, along with its effect on libido. It also kills appetite and fatigue. In larger doses, it can cause anxiety, paranoia and erratic, sometimes violent, behavior.
Cocaine wears off quickly, so it’s necessary to use it repeatedly in order to stay high. That means it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve taken — and end up consuming a much larger total dose than you had planned. Cocaine and crack can lead to overdose, involving heart attacks, stroke, seizure — even death.
Also, it’s very common to mix alcohol with other substances, especially alcohol. This dangerous combination causes the cocaine and the alcohol to metabolize within the liver and create a new substance, cocaethylene. Cocaethylene magnifies the toxicity of both substances, and raises the likelihood of heart problems, liver damage and dangerous behavior.
The long-term effects of cocaine addiction in teens are especially pronounced. Because adolescent brains are still forming, cocaine use alters brain cell structure permanently — impairing behavioral, developmental, and cognitive growth. Cocaine can also change the neural pathways that respond to stress and reward, causing former cocaine users to run a high risk of relapse.
Cocaine addiction can be a challenge to overcome, but Safe Landing has years of experience helping teens move past their dependence and find healing through teen drug rehab. Most of our clients need several days to safely detox from cocaine, and withdrawal symptoms are most noticeable between one and 40 hours after the last use. Our medical team can help your teen manage those symptoms comfortably and safely.
Then, we’ll collaborate with you and your teen to create his or her individualized recovery plan. We’ll also address any underlying mental health conditions that may have been fueling their substance use. Safe Landing will meet your teen right where they are on their recovery journey, and provide the phase of care that makes sense for their recovery plan. While it may involve a partial hospitalization program or intensive outpatient program, many of those struggling with cocaine addiction benefit from the structured nature of a residential inpatient program.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) have proven effective for people recovering from cocaine addiction. Meanwhile, trauma therapy can help to uncover some of the causes behind your teen’s cocaine addiction, and motivational interviewing (MI) can strengthen their resolve to remain sober. By offering a wide variety of evidence-based therapies, Safe Landing treats the origins of the addictive behavior and lowers the risk of relapse in the future.
Cocaine addiction is powerful. If your child is abusing cocaine, they won’t be able to stop on their own. Please don’t wait. Call or click now to speak with a treatment specialist at Harbor Village today. And let’s get your teen on the road to recovery now.