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Coke Nose is a condition that can be developed through the damaging behavior of snorting cocaine.
Cocaine is a stimulant drug with addictive properties, often abused recreationally due to its euphoric effects. The misuse of cocaine leads to various harmful physical and psychological effects. Users primarily administer the drug orally (swallowing it or rubbing it onto gums), intranasally (by snorting it), intravenously (by injecting it into the veins), or by inhalation (by smoking or vaping it). All routes of administration are dangerous and can potentially lead to the absorption of toxic amounts of cocaine, causing heart attacks, strokes, or seizures. These can leave a person with long-term health problems, and in fatal cases result in death.
In this article, we will focus specifically on the intranasal route of administration – i.e., how cocaine users snort the drug. We’ll also be examining ‘what does cocaine do to your nose?’, as well as the phenomenon of “coke nose.”
What Is Coke Nose?
“Coke nose” is a term informally used to describe any damage caused to the nose by snorting cocaine, as well as the eventual collapse of the nose. Snorting cocaine through the nose can also lead to several negative effects on the nasal tissue, including:
- Irritation and Inflammation: Cocaine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it narrows blood vessels. When snorted, cocaine can cause irritation and inflammation of the nasal passages due to reduced blood flow, leading to discomfort, pain, and potential bleeding.
- Nasal Congestion: Chronic cocaine use can lead to persistent nasal congestion, making it difficult to breathe through the nose.
- Perforation Of the Septum: The septum is the thin wall of cartilage that separates the nostrils. Prolonged cocaine use can lead to the deterioration of the septal tissue, causing a perforation (hole) in the septum. This is also known as ‘cocaine nose hole,’ or ‘perforated septum from coke.’ Those with perforated nasal cartilage may hear a whistling when they breathe through their noses.
- Nasal Tissue Damage: Cocaine use can damage the delicate mucous membranes lining the nasal passages. This damage can result in chronic runny nose, frequent cocaine nosebleeds, and discomfort.
- Chronic Rhinitis: Cocaine use can lead to chronic rhinitis, which is inflammation of the nasal passages. This condition can further contribute to nasal congestion, discomfort, and impaired sense of smell.
- Sinus Infections: Damage to the nasal passages can increase the risk of developing sinus infections from cocaine and other respiratory issues. Bacteria can also enter the adjacent sinuses and even the brain cavity, causing an even more dangerous infection.
- Saddle Nose: This is when the bridge of the nose collapses, causing it to take the shape of a saddle. This occurs because the tissue inside the bridge of the nose slowly dies from a lack of blood supply, and it rots until the nose collapses.
Fixing Coke Nose Damage
Cocaine damage to the nose can be fixed with a rhinoplasty procedure performed by a septal perforation specialist. The exact surgery will depend on the extent and nature of the damage. Often the specialist will need to reconstruct the nasal lining using forearm tissue. Once the new lining is in place, they will then place cartilage grafts inside the nose to support the tissues and restore the nose’s natural shape. Early medical or surgical intervention of cocaine nose may help halt the deformity and prevent it from deteriorating any further, so it is advisable for users to seek help as soon as they become aware of their coke nose problem. It is important to note, though, that reconstructive surgery will not be successful if the patient continues to snort cocaine, as repeated use will simply damage the surgical repair. Therefore, the first and most crucial step is for the user to stop any cocaine use. If you or your loved one is suffering from cocaine addiction, reach out to us at Avenues Recovery today so that we can guide you on your path to sobriety.
Artie Lange’s Coke Nose
Comedian Artie Lange is often seen as the unfortunate poster boy for cocaine nose collapse, after abusing the drug for decades. Lange said that he won’t fix his collapsed nose as it serves as a constant reminder to stay off drugs. This is an unconventional approach and something that many users would not want, seeing as it will draw unwanted attention from other people who will be able to immediately identify their struggle with cocaine. This being said, if not fixing one’s nose is an incentive to stay sober that works, then this is definitely a commendable approach.
Treating Cocaine Addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)  explains that the majority of individuals who seek treatment for cocaine use are likely to be polydrug users, meaning they use more than one substance. Therefore, the treatment of cocaine addiction needs to take on a multifaceted approach. Users need to receive treatment for both the physiological symptoms of their drug usage, such as changes to the brain , effects on the heart and cardiovascular system, and significant malnourishment caused by the appetite-suppressing nature of the drug.
Recovery treatment also needs to address a wide range of social, environmental, and familial factors – such as the circumstances that led the user to turn to drugs in the first place. This will create a whole-picture approach, looking not just at who the user is in the present but their background and history that has led them to the point where they currently are. Therapeutic intervention will help users develop the ability to recognize the situations in which they are most likely to use cocaine and how to avoid these situations. Sometimes, an individual might be suffering from things such as PTSD or family bereavement, which need to be worked through in their journey to become clean from drugs and turn a new page in their life.
At Avenues Recovery, treatment plans are tailored to meet the unique needs of each individual. They include a mix of behavioral and pharmacological interventions to really address the totality of the user and prevent any future relapse.
If you are struggling with cocaine addiction or have a loved one who is, contact Avenues Recovery today, where a trained specialist will talk you through the different treatment options available. Remember that you are not alone in your struggle; we’re here to help and guide you through every step of the recovery journey.