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Cocaine Sweats

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but actually you’ve been planted.” – Christine Caine

In 2022, cocaine was present in over 240 overdose fatalities in Hillsborough County. While cocaine use has been decreasing over the years in Florida, there is still a need to bring education forward on the subject – 240 is still too many people to lose.

At Clean Recovery Centers, we know the hold cocaine can have. Besides dependence, cocaine can produce a variety of unpleasant and unwanted side effects. Today, we are talking about cocaine sweats – what are they, what do they mean, and are they life-threatening?

cocaine sweats clean recovery

Cocaine Sweats Defined

Cocaine sweats refers to excess sweating as a side effect of taking the substance. Sweating is a response from the body that occurs naturally but can sometimes be induced by taking medications or substances. Cocaine causes sweating for different reasons and is especially prominent during polysubstance use or between cocaine doses. Excess sweating can lead to discomfort and dehydration.

clean recovery cocaine sweatsLeading Causes of Cocaine Sweats

Cocaine sweats typically do not occur during use, even though cocaine raises body temperature. How is this possible? Cocaine hinders the production of sweat and the body’s response to heat. When you take a dose of cocaine, the blood vessels throughout the body constrict. This forces the heart to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, which raises your temperature. With the blood vessels being constricted, they cannot send signals to the skin to produce sweat. Therefore, the body cannot cool down. This is paired with the brain being unable to perceive the heat, negating a response. The temperature rising within the body and not being able to respond or correct the situation puts you at a higher risk of experiencing a seizure from heatstroke.

So, if cocaine use doesn’t cause sweating, where do cocaine sweats originate? The main source of cocaine sweats is the after-effects. Once cocaine leaves your system, the blood vessels dilate and expand, allowing blood flow to return to normal. As pores open again, sweat can be released. Because the body was unable to produce a proper response to the rise in body temperature, it will release excess sweat to cool down afterward.

Depending on how long you have been using cocaine can affect how long cocaine sweats last. Taking cocaine a few times in a single night may only cause excess sweating for a few hours to one day. However, those taking cocaine regularly to the point of dependence may experience cocaine sweats for days after the last use.

Sweating: Does This Signify Addiction?

Not all substances cause sweating as a symptom of use, but many will cause sweating as a sign of dependence. Cocaine withdrawal occurs when the brain sends signals throughout the body that cocaine is needed. The person will feel anxious and irritated trying to find their next dose of cocaine, which can cause the body to release sweat. As we mentioned above, the blood vessels are also regulated after cocaine has left the body, increasing the amount of sweat production. While experiencing cocaine sweats after use is not a surefire sign of dependence, having other withdrawal symptoms can be. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Sweating
  • Discomfort
  • Fidgety and restless behaviors

Long-Term Impediments From Cocaine Sweats

Sweating from cocaine does not typically cause long-term problems, however, certain concerns can arise in other ways. As the sweat response is muted by cocaine use, the person risks overheating. In combination with dehydration and situational unawareness, the risk increases drastically. Overheating can be life-threatening as it can lead to seizures. If you or someone you are with has taken cocaine and are in a warm area, take precautions by hydrating with water (not alcohol – this will further dehydration) and move to cool areas to give your body a break from the heat.

Cocaine plays a role in mental health and can cause certain conditions to develop. Even after cocaine use has stopped, anxiety symptoms can linger and the condition can require life-long treatment. When we feel symptoms of anxiety, our body can respond by overproducing sweat. This is not a life-threatening concern, but can be very uncomfortable and make you feel self-conscious. Talk with your doctor if you are experiencing excessive sweating due to anxiety. They can work with you to come up with a treatment plan that addresses both the sweating and anxiety.

Other Complications of Cocaine Use on the Skin

One of the most common ways to take cocaine is intranasal – inhaling the powder up the nose. This delivers the substance into the system relatively quickly and does not require any paraphernalia. However, as use continues, the skin around and inside the nose will begin to deteriorate. Cocaine is made using chemicals such as hydrochloric acid, which are toxic to ingest. Irritation and burns around the nostrils are common. Within the nose, the nasal cavity can become inflamed making it difficult to breathe. These passageways can become so damaged that they collapse, making the nose and skin around them look sunken in. Necrosis may also occur causing a bluish black appearance.

Those who inject cocaine are at risk of developing skin conditions. When a needle pierces the skin, it leaves an opening that can become infected. This is especially true if the needle or syringe was not sterile. Abscesses can form under the skin and cause lumps that become painful. Bruising and collapsed veins will change the color of the skin to blue and purple. Because cocaine weakens the immune system, the skin can take longer to heal from these infections and conditions.

One of the most commonly seen substances to lace in cocaine is levamisole, a veterinary medicine used for livestock deworming. It did have human uses to treat inflammatory conditions but was discontinued because of the side effects it caused. When mixed with cocaine, the person experiences purpura, a flat rash-like skin condition. Patches of blood form under the skin and appear purple or black and are accompanied by pain. In one case, a woman presented with severe purpura on the nose and right arm. Doctors were able to establish it was from levamisole-induced skin necrosis as she had presented with it in the past. If left untreated, and if cocaine use continues, deformities of the skin are likely to occur.

Getting Treatment for Cocaine Use Disorder in Tampa, FL

While cocaine use hinders sweating, experiencing cocaine sweats between uses is a sign of dependence. Thankfully, there is a way to end the cycle of cocaine use and put a stop to excessive sweating. Through cocaine addiction treatment, you will learn about mental health and what led you to turn to cocaine. Classes about healthy coping and life skills will show you how to navigate your life in recovery and how to handle when triggers pop up. If sweating is still a concern while in treatment, medical staff are available to treat underlying conditions that may be a result of cocaine or something else. You will leave treatment with all of the tools and support needed to thrive in your new life free of cocaine.

If you or someone you love is managing a cocaine use disorder, help is just a phone call away. Clean Recovery Centers is a leading provider of addiction and mental health treatment throughout the Suncoast. Our three-phase approach offers a full spectrum of care, and each facility offers housing certified by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences (FARR). Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program offerings.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

FAQs About Cocaine Sweats

What should I do when experiencing cocaine sweats?

When experiencing cocaine sweats, try to help yourself cool down. Turn on a fan or air conditioning unit, dress in light layers, or take a cool shower. Depending on how long you have been using cocaine, you may have to continue this process for a few days. If sweating continues for longer, seek medical attention to ensure an underlying problem is not contributing.

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