Cocaine Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, & When To Get Help

Cocaine is an illicit substance that is known for its potent and addictive properties. This stimulant substance can be found in the form of a powder or a hard substance that looks like a rock.

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Learn about cocaine addiction

Cocaine is often snorted or smoked in an effort to obtain a mind-altering high. This short-term high improves upon energy and focus, while also bringing on feelings of pleasure and invincibility.

Whether consumed alone or in conjunction with other substances, cocaine can bring on an exceptional amount of damage to an individual’s life. For those who abuse cocaine, the high can be so attractive that individuals continually abuse it more frequently and in greater amounts, which can lead to a deadly outcome. Therefore, it is critical for individuals who are struggling with this type of substance abuse problem to look into obtaining effective treatment as soon as possible. If an individual who is addicted to cocaine partakes in treatment, the risks linked with continual cocaine abuse can be decreased or avoided altogether.


Cocaine addiction statistics

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states that men are more likely to abuse cocaine than women are. More specifically, the DSM-5 notes that men are four times more likely to partake in cocaine abuse, and the rate of men who are diagnosed with cocaine use disorder is 0.4% compared to 0.1% of women.

It has been deduced that amongst adults ages 18 and older, the prevalence of cocaine addiction is believed to be 0.3%. In addition, it was reported that 0.1% of adults between the ages of 45 and 64 also abuse this substance.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for cocaine addiction

There are a number of reasons why an individual might begin to abuse cocaine or become addicted to it. Below are some of the causes and risk factors that are most commonly reported by addiction specialists:

Genetic: Research has proven that the likelihood of an individual developing a cocaine addiction can be impacted by his or her genetic makeup. For instance, those who possess a family history of cocaine abuse and/or mental health conditions are more likely to abuse this substance.

Environmental: The environment in which an individual spends the majority of his or her time can have a significant impact on his or her chances of abusing cocaine, and there are certain factors that can impact the development of this type of addiction. For example, if an individual is exposed to cocaine abuse or other substance abuse, violence within the community, a poor home environment, or individuals who distribute this substance, he or she is more likely to abuse the substance. In addition, being exposed to cocaine in utero increases one’s risk of abusing cocaine later on in life.

Risk Factors:

  • Being exposed to violence
  • Lacking effective impulse control
  • Residing in an unstable home environment
  • Personal history of abusing other substances
  • Family history of mental health conditions or substance abuse concerns
  • Associating with others who use or sell cocaine
  • Personal history of mental health conditions

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction

If someone is struggling with a serious cocaine addiction, the most common warning signs of this type of addiction can be apparent to others. If you are worried that someone you care for is abusing this substance, it can be beneficial to take note of the following symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Failing to keep up with responsibilities and obligations at home or work
  • Using cocaine despite being aware of problems caused by the use of this substance
  • Abusing cocaine in hazardous situations
  • Using cocaine in favor of engaging in activities that were once enjoyed
  • Spending a great deal of time acquiring, using, or recovering from cocaine abuse
  • Being unable to control the amount of cocaine one uses
  • Increased aggressiveness

Physical symptoms:

  • Irregular heartrate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Restlessness
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Sweating
  • Having a tolerance to increased amounts of cocaine
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Seizures
  • Increased heartrate
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Slowed movements
  • Muscle weakness
  • Trouble breathing

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Rapid thought processes
  • Strong cravings for more cocaine
  • Confusion
  • Hindered judgement
  • Increased alertness

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Inability to experience and display appropriate emotions
  • Social isolation


Effects of cocaine addiction

When cocaine abuse continues for a prolonged period of time, it can cause an individual to suffer from a significant amount of disarray within his or her life. The effects listed below are some of the many consequences that can develop if an individual does not obtain treatment to defeat a cocaine addiction:

  • Decline in work performance
  • Job loss
  • Onset or worsening of mental health symptoms
  • Damage to nasal cavity from snorting cocaine
  • Involvement with the legal system
  • Damage to arteries or veins from repeated injections
  • Financial strife
  • Demise of meaningful relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Polysubstance use
  • Separation or divorce
  • Contracting HIV or another blood-borne virus or infection due to intravenous cocaine use

Co-Occurring Disorders

Cocaine addiction and co-occurring disorders

Cocaine addiction, which is clinically referred to as cocaine use disorder, is known to occur with other mental health conditions and substance use disorders. In the event that an individual obtains treatment, he or she can receive care for one or more of the following co-occurring conditions:

  • Other substance use disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Gambling disorder

Withdrawal and Overdose

Cocaine withdrawal and overdose

Effects of cocaine withdrawal: Prolonged cocaine abuse causes an individual’s body to grow accustomed to the presence of this dangerous substance. As soon as a tolerance to cocaine develops, an individual will likely suffer a process of withdrawal after the abuse of this substance has ceased. The effects below are those that might occur when someone is going through cocaine withdrawal:

  • Insomnia
  • Oversleeping
  • Depressed mood
  • Increased appetite
  • Nightmares
  • Fatigue

Effects of cocaine overdose: An overdose following the overconsumption of cocaine can be deadly if it is not treated as a medical emergency and immediate help is not obtained. Therefore, medical personnel should be contacted in the event that any of the effects listed below are apparent:

  • Stroke
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Seizure
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Aggression
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
What our clients are saying

Snorting cocaine was as habitual as brushing my teeth for me. Thankfully, I was able to achieve lasting recovery and sobriety at Huntington Creek. I am now 5 years sober thanks to them.

– Former Patient
Our Approach
The next step to realizing your best self.
Take a brief online assessment

It’s the quickest way to determine if you or someone you care about should connect with a mental health professional.