Signs & Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

For over 30 years, Vantage Point is the area’s only full-service mental health facility with a complete continuum of psychiatric and behavioral health services for adults and senior adults.

Understanding Cocaine

Learn about cocaine and substance abuse

Cocaine, also known as coke or blow, is one of the most commonly used recreational substances. It is extracted from the leaves of the Erythroxylum coca plant and is said to be the most powerful stimulant that comes from a natural origin. Cocaine works as a pain blocker by causing a numbing effect. When it is abused, it can lead to feelings of euphoria. Cocaine can come in the form of powder or crystallized rock.

Cocaine is arguably one of the most dangerous drugs that a person can take and is generally used in one of three ways. Snorting involves inhaling the powdered substance through the nose, allowing the drug to enter the bloodstream by way of the nasal tissues. Some people choose to inject the drug directly into their bloodstream. Others will smoke the drug by inhaling the vapor into the lungs so that it can rapidly enter the bloodstream. Many times users will also rub the powder into their gums in addition to one of the aforementioned ways.


Cocaine addiction statistics

Cocaine is said to be the second most highly trafficked illicit drug in the world, the second most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, and the third most common drug found in schools throughout the U.S. According to the office of the National Drug Control Policy, there are 3.6 million chronic cocaine users in the United States, but 34 million Americans (14.7% of the population) age 12 and older have used blow at least once in their lifetime. Studies show that about 5,000 people try cocaine for the first time every day and that 75% of all people who try cocaine become addicted to it. Only one in every four individuals can quit using cocaine on their own. Most require the help of some form of addiction treatment or rehabilitation.

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for cocaine addiction

Due to the nature of the drug, the causes and effects that cocaine has on a person can vary tremendously.

Genetic: A person’s genetic predisposition may play a role in the development of cocaine abuse. It has been said that children of addicts are eight times more likely to become addicts themselves.

Physical: When people use cocaine, the drug stimulates the receptors in the brain that are responsible for sensing changes in the body. This change creates an immediate feeling of euphoria, which leads the user to want to continue using in order to maintain that state of euphoria. Because the euphoric feeling is so brief, tolerance is quickly developed, causing the user to need higher doses more frequently in order to obtain the same high.

Environmental: Environmental factors can have a significant impact on the development of cocaine dependence. Often, life circumstances lead people to start using cocaine as a means of escaping their everyday lives or the emotions they feel due to their surroundings.

Risk Factors:

  • Having been exposed to cocaine prenatally
  • Exposure to cocaine use among family members or friends
  • Unstable home environment
  • Exposure to violence
  • Suffering from mental illness

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction

The signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse may include:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Rapid speech
  • Increased activity
  • Hyper behavior
  • Violence
  • Participating in risky behaviors
  • Lying
  • Stealing

Physical symptoms:

  • Changes in appearance (primarily rapid or extreme weight loss)
  • Chronically runny nose (when snorting the drug)
  • Frequent nose bleeds (when snorting the drug)
  • Track marks (when injecting the drug)
  • Dilated pupils

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Paranoia

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Lack of interest in things one used to be interested in
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Depression
  • Psychotic behaviors


Effects of cocaine addiction

Depending on how pure the cocaine is, as well as how much of the drug is being used, the effects of cocaine abuse will vary. Some examples of the negative effects that cocaine can have on a person include:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paranoia
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure

For some users, cocaine abuse can cause extremely severe health problems, such as:

  • Seizure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden death

Co-Occurring Disorders

Cocaine addiction and co-occurring disorders

Some examples of other disorders that co-exist with cocaine abuse include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Conduct disorders
  • ADHD
  • Antisocial personality disorder

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of withdrawal and overdose

When the effects of cocaine wear off, people may experience things such as bloody noses, headaches, nausea, and depression. Also, because cocaine is highly addictive, the craving for more becomes so intense that severe anxiety can ensue.

Because cocaine use can cause respiratory failure, stroke, heart attack, and/or bleeding in the brain, it can be fatal. While these are typically the result of an overdose, death has been known to occur upon first use.

I wanted to give this recommendation for Vantage Point. This hospital has been very good for me. They work very hard to make sure their patients are well taken care of. I felt lucky to be here for in-house stay and now for IOP. If you need help emotionally this is the place to be.

– a former client