According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "six million Americans age 12 and older have abused cocaine, and 1.5 million have abused 'crack' at least once in the year prior to the survey." In order to help those whose lives are being adversely affected, one must be able to recognize the signs of use and addiction. Initial Use When a person first begins experimenting with this powerful stimulant, many signs may surface, which, to the uninformed, may go unnoticed. First-time users can experience an exaggerated reaction ranging from almost non-stop talking to insomnia. The lack of appetite is also an initial key sign that someone may be using cocaine, as it is an appetite suppressant. Increased Use As cocaine use intensifies, a person's overall behavior can be a key indicator of a problem. Oftentimes a person who is becoming addicted to cocaine will make obtaining the drug the number one priority in daily life. As cocaine use increases, a person rapidly looks for additional way to come up with more of the substance, including stealing property from friends and family members. Missing Work Along with losing interest in personal relationships, cocaine abusers find it difficult to concentrate on their careers. While immediate job loss during early stages of cocaine use is rare, a pattern of missing work is common. A person initially experimenting with the drug oftentimes cannot concentrate on work, preferring to enjoy the feeling of "getting high," as well as dedicating her time to obtaining more of the substance. Warning Signs The physical signs that someone is abusing cocaine can be different with each individual; however, there are many specific warning signs that cannot be concealed. Recognizing the signs of cocaine use is sometimes difficult, especially for parents who aren't familiar with the drug and its effects. They include: --Drop in grades --Dilated pupils --Inability to sleep --Runny nose --Irritability --Nausea --Job loss --Anxiety --Criminal activity Finding Help Parents should educate themselves on the warning signs in order to recognize changes in their children's behavior. Kicking a cocaine habit without professional help is difficult, if not impossible. Narcotics Anonymous has offices nationwide and they provide literature and support for family members faced with the problems of addiction. Contact your family physician, the American Medical Association or visit the Narcotics Anonymous website.