While cocaine is not widely abused by teens, it is one of the most dangerous drugs available to teens. In a recent study, 3.4 percent of 10th grade students and 5.2 percent of high school seniors reported using cocaine in the past year.
One of the most risky effects of teenage cocaine use is that the body can develop a tolerance to the drug, resulting in the teen user needing larger doses over time to achieve the same type of high. This increase in dosage presents an increased risk for an overdose. Cocaine is highly addictive and has serious long-term health effects including headaches; abdominal pain and nausea; decreased appetite; irritability,restlessness, anxiety and paranoia; loss of touch with reality and auditory hallucinations; and increased risk of HIV and other diseases.
Cocaine can be taken in a variety of ways: smoking, injecting and snorting. Snorting and injecting cocaine are the two most common methods of taking cocaine. Short-term effects of teen cocaine use include elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature; intense feelings of euphoria; distorted sensory perception; shaking; and intense “low” feelings as the drug wears off and user “crashes.” Long-term effects include seizures, stroke, respiratory problems, heart attack, brain damage, infections due to needle sharing, and violent behavior. Teens are at a high risk for developing an addiction to cocaine. Parents should be aware of such warning signs as red, bloodshot eyes; runny nose or frequent sniffing; change in eating and sleeping habits; frequently needing or stealing money; and a change in behavior, among others.