The eyes are the window to the soul, so what happens when we cannot see? An eye doctor can help with injuries to the eye and blurry vision. For some of us, that means contacts or glasses. But what happens when the eye becomes damaged from substance use? Damage done to the eyes can be permanent, as there is no way to regenerate eye function. You may think, I am healthy, I don’t wear glasses, so I am good to use cocaine as much as I want. When you use it, your eyes feel sensitive, but it goes away afterward so there isn’t any damage being done. Or is there?
Cocaine entering the United States through Florida is a huge problem. In Bradenton, a man was convicted of working with a mail carrier to distribute cocaine in packages. At Clean Recovery Centers, we understand how easy it has become to get access to substances such as cocaine. Our goal is to help educate the public on the dangers of substance use and provide a safe place to overcome cocaine addiction. Today, we are discussing cocaine eyes and how you can help a loved one through a substance use disorder.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant, made from the coca plant found in South America. It can come in a powder form or a solid form like a white rock. Cocaine affects the body by causing a rush of intense energy. One of the biggest reasons it is so prevalent in Florida, especially bigger port cities such as Tampa, is due to the location being easily accessible from Mexico and other Central and South American areas. Cocaine is typically used by snorting, swallowing, injecting, or smoking.
What Are Cocaine Eyes?
The term “cocaine eyes” comes from the effects cocaine causes on the pupils. When we have a bright light shined in our eyes when it is dark, our pupils react by becoming smaller. When the light is turned off, our pupils dilate, or become larger, to adjust to the lack of light and allow us to see. With cocaine use, the pupils become dilated due to the release of chemicals in the brain. The neurotransmitter norepinephrine and the hormone adrenaline make the brain go into a fight-or-flight response. When this response is triggered, the pupils dilate. This dilation can last for a few minutes up to about an hour.
How Does Cocaine Affect the Eyes?
Besides dilating the pupils, another cocaine side effect is bloodshot eyes. When cocaine is used, the blood vessels constrict, which diminishes the amount of oxygen and blood that reaches the eyes. Side effects of this include reduced vision and loss of color perception. Since the pupils are dilated, light sensitivity is also a common side effect because the eye is unable to adjust.
What Other Eye Conditions Can Cocaine Cause?
The eyes are very sensitive and can become damaged by prolonged cocaine use. Some conditions include:
Corneal scratches or ulcers – when the eyes are irritated, it is normal to try to rub them. This can cause scratches or abrasions that will irritate the eye even further. If left untreated, these can cause infections. Ulcers can occur if cocaine gets into the tear duct.
Ocular bone degeneration – when cocaine is snorted, it causes damage to the nasal cavity. Blood flow is decreased in this region, which can cause the ocular bone to actually deteriorate.
Neuropathy of the optic nerve – blood flow is important to keep nerves healthy. Cocaine use constricts this flow and can cause weakening and damage to the optic nerve. Optic neuropathy can lead to vision loss, particularly in peripheral vision.
Nystagmus – a condition in which involuntary movement occurs in the eye. It can be up and down, side to side, or circular in motion. Cocaine use can cause nystagmus to appear due to damage done to the central nervous system.
Signs And Symptoms of Cocaine Use
There are many signs of cocaine addiction. Some include:
- Heart attacks or strokes
- Loss of sense of smell
- Withdrawing from friends and family
These signs can appear early on or take some time depending on how much cocaine is being used. The best thing to do if a loved one is showing these signs is to start a conversation. The cost of cocaine physically, mentally, and financially can take a huge toll, and providing support can open the door to help a loved one seek treatment.
Symptoms of cocaine use can vary depending on how it is used. Common symptoms include:
- Intense bursts of energy
- Hypersensitivity to sound, sight, and touch
- Paranoia with increased distrust of others
- Bouts of extreme happiness or irritability
- Decreased appetite
Getting Treatment for Cocaine Use Disorder
Cocaine addiction does not have to be permanent. At Clean Recovery Centers, we have helped hundreds of our clients to get clean, live clean, and stay clean. Our cocaine addiction treatment includes inpatient and outpatient services with residential housing available. After an initial assessment, our team will work with you to build the best course of treatment for you.
Addressing cocaine use disorder with a loved one can be difficult. Always be empathetic but firm, and use a respectful tone. Cocaine actually changes the way the brain understands pleasure. This is what keeps the cycle of using in full force. The best ways to help your loved one are to keep yourself healthy and safe first. Also, make sure you are not enabling your loved one.
Some signs of enabling include:
- Giving rides or allowing them to borrow a vehicle knowing they are going to get cocaine
- Giving money whenever they ask
- Avoiding any conflicts that address the loved one’s cocaine use
- Preventing them from experiencing consequences of their actions
Family is a very important part of recovery. At Clean Recovery Centers, we support the use of family therapy to help mend broken bonds and allow healing.
Is Detox Needed for Cocaine Use Disorder?
While a medical detox is not always necessary for cocaine, the Clean Recovery Centers staff can address any physical and mental concerns. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can be managed with medications. The key is to have a strong support system, which can begin in group therapy at Clean Recovery Centers. Cocaine cravings can last months or even years, and having people to talk to can make a big difference in preventing relapse.
If you or someone you love is experiencing the toll of cocaine use, those feelings do not have to be permanent. At Clean Recovery Centers, we understand how it can seem impossible to live without cocaine right now. Our dedicated staff of professionals creates a safe and family-like environment to help you heal and rediscover yourself. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to schedule an appointment and ask any questions.
Why are eyes red after cocaine?
When cocaine is used, the blood vessels constrict, which diminishes the amount of oxygen and blood that reaches the eyes. This causes the eyes to become bloodshot.
How long after using cocaine do the eyes stay dilated?
Typically, the pupils stay dilated for a few minutes to an hour after using cocaine.
What are cocaine eyes?
The term “cocaine eyes” comes from the effects cocaine causes on the pupils. With cocaine use, the pupils become dilated due to the release of chemicals in the brain.