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Cocaine Addiction | Abuse, Effects, Withdrawal, & Treatment Options

Published on October 5, 2020
man holding a bag of powder cocaine

Cocaine is among the illegal drugs that can lead to an addiction with severe physical and mental side effects. Since the use of this drug can result in potentially lethal overdoses, seeking treatment for cocaine addiction is important. 

Several drug rehab programs are designed to help individuals recover from this type of addiction.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant that comes from coca plant leaves. This drug is sometimes combined with other substances, such as fentanyl or amphetamine, which can lead to a higher risk of accidental overdose. 

Also known as crack, coke, or blow, cocaine is commonly snorted through the nose when it’s used in powder form. Cocaine can be smoked or combined with heroin and injected as well. 

It can also be turned into a rock formed called crack cocaine, which offers a short and powerful high.

Learn more about Crack Cocaine

Cocaine produces a euphoric effect in the brain, which can easily lead to addiction as larger or more frequent doses are needed to achieve this over time.

Cocaine Use Statistics

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), roughly 16.8 percent of adults in the U.S. aged 26 and up have used cocaine at least once during their lifetime, and 1.6 percent reported using it in the past year. 

Around 11.4 percent of young adults in the U.S. between 18 and 25 and 0.70 percent of children between 12 and 17 years old have used cocaine at least once during their lifetime.

Learn more about Cocaine Statistics

Side Effects Of Cocaine Addiction

Using cocaine over time can result in addiction as your brain and body become used to the effects this drug causes. This can lead to you taking cocaine more often in order to get the same results. 

As this continues, you might experience any of the following side effects of cocaine addiction:

  • needing bigger or more frequent amounts of cocaine to experience euphoria and other effects
  • being unable to stop using cocaine
  • having withdrawal symptoms if you stop using
  • spending too much time or large amounts of money getting cocaine
  • feeling highly irritable
  • experiencing anxiety
  • having hallucinations
  • having psychosis
  • experiencing negative impacts on different parts of your life, such as your relationships or your job
  • feeling aggressive
  • losing an unhealthy amount of weight
  • having headaches
  • having a weakened immune system, or making you more likely to get colds and other illnesses

Heavy cocaine use can also lead to adverse short-term and long-term health effects, including heart problems, weight loss, nasal damage, stroke, and more.

Learn more about the Short-Term & Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine Overdose Signs

Cocaine usage can lead to overdose, which occurs when too much of this drug is taken at one time or if the drug has a higher potency than usual. 

The risk of overdoses is also higher when cocaine is combined with other drugs like heroin or fentanyl. 

Some of the signs of an overdose, which requires immediate medical care, include:

  • bluish skin color
  • rapid heartbeat
  • irregular heart rhythm
  • sudden increase in blood pressure
  • trouble breathing
  • no bladder control
  • sweating excessively
  • seizures
  • increase in body temperature
  • being confused or unaware of your surroundings

Learn more about Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms & Detox

When your body is used to cocaine, you might experience mild or severe withdrawal effects when you stop using it. These withdrawal symptoms can be strong and might produce intense cravings for cocaine. 

Some of the symptoms you might have when you go through cocaine withdrawal include:

  • fatigue or severe tiredness
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • irritability
  • restlessness or agitation
  • problems with sleeping, such as insomnia
  • increased appetite
  • slower thinking and trouble concentrating
  • slower physical movements
  • vivid nightmares

Being in a detox program for cocaine addiction can help you cope while you experience withdrawal. Professional detox programs sometimes offer medical treatment to help ease some of the withdrawal symptoms people have, especially if they’re severe. 

With a detox program, you’ll also have support from caring professionals while you go through the withdrawal process prior to addiction treatment.

Learn more about Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine Addiction Treatment Options

Cocaine addiction can be difficult to overcome on your own, so it’s important to look into professional treatment options. These kinds of programs provide you with support in various ways, which can help you make a full recovery from cocaine addiction. 

Some of the different kinds of treatment and rehab options that are available for cocaine addiction include:

  • inpatient treatment: These rehab programs offer a safe environment with supportive staff, including doctors, nurses, social workers, and mental health professionals. You’ll have a daily schedule to follow and support from your peers as well.
  • outpatient treatment: This treatment program involves coming in for group therapy or individual therapy to help you overcome cocaine addiction. Different types of outpatient care include intensive outpatient (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).
  • group therapy: Group therapy allows you to meet with others who are working on overcoming addiction, which provides emotional support, motivation, and connection.
  • behavioral therapy: Behavioral therapies work to change your thinking and attitudes about cocaine. Motivational interviewing is a popular therapy used for cocaine addiction.

If you or a loved one suffers from cocaine addiction, Ark Behavioral Health can help. Please contact us today for more information on our addiction treatment options.

Cocaine FAQ

How Much Is A Kilo Of Cocaine?

The price of cocaine varies depending on location, purity, and other factors. In the United States, one kilogram of cocaine can cost anywhere from $14,500 to $45,000. In Boston, Massachusetts, it usually costs between $29,000 and $39,000

Learn more about Cocaine Street Prices

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?

A single dose of cocaine can be eliminated from the body in less than a day. However, cocaine’s metabolites are longer lasting and can be detected in the body for 2-3 days in urine, saliva, and blood tests, and for months in hair tests.

If you use cocaine heavily or drink during or after taking cocaine, the drug may remain detectable for a significantly longer period of time.

Learn more about How Long Cocaine Stays In Your System

What Are Cocaine Eyes?

A side-effect of cocaine use is pupil dilation, or cocaine eyes. After the drug enters the bloodstream, the black central portion of the eye expands and causes sensitivity to light. 

The outer portions of the eye may also appear red, irritated, or watery, especially if the drug was snorted or smoked.

Learn more about Cocaine Eyes

What Kind Of Drug Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a natural stimulant derived and purified from the coca plant. Cocaine is not a depressant, narcotic, hallucinogen, amphetamine, or steroid. 

While cocaine is often taken along with drugs from these other classes, the results of mixing any drugs—especially cocaine—can be unpredictable with dangerous short and long-term health effects.

Read Is Cocaine A Stimulant to learn more

Can You Smoke Cocaine?

Most street cocaine is a white, water-soluble powder that’s intended for injection or snorting, not smoking. However, by modifying this powder, it’s possible to create freebase or crack cocaine for smoking. 

This results in a rapid, potent high with dangerous long-term side effects including addiction and lung, brain, and heart damage.

Learn more about Freebasing Cocaine

What Happens When You Inject Cocaine?

When cocaine powder is mixed with water and injected into the body it causes the neurotransmitter dopamine to quickly build up in the synapses of your nerves. This supercharges the body and, within seconds, causes a rush of pleasure and activity that lasts for a short period.

This high is then followed by an extended comedown or crash as the drug wears off and your body tries to recover.

Learn more about Injecting Cocaine

What Is Slang For Cocaine?

Cocaine has a wide variety of street names. Common names for powder cocaine include Apache, Big C, Blizzard, Coke, Florida Snow, Stardust, and Yayo. Common names for crack cocaine include Candy, Dice, Grit, Hail, Rock, Sleet, and Yale. 

In addition, people use special names for cocaine that’s mixed with other drugs. For example, cocaine mixed with heroin is often called Belushi or Speedball, while cocaine mixed with marijuana is often called Bazooka, Banana, or Cocoa Puffs.

Learn more about Cocaine Terms & Street Names

What Is Cocaine Psychosis?

When you use cocaine you overload your body and brain with a powerful stimulant that can cause severe damage and side effects, including psychosis.

Psychosis is a broad term for any condition where you lose touch with reality, often becoming lost in delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia while acting out in bizarre or dangerous ways.

Learn more about Cocaine Psychosis

What Does Cocaine Smell & Taste Like?

Cocaine has a pungent odor that comes from the ether and kerosene used in processing the drug. It has a bitter taste and may give a numbing sensation when rubbed on the gums. And, the more bitter the taste of cocaine, the less likely it is to contain additives and fillers.

Learn more about the Smell, Taste, & Look Of Cocaine

Does Cocaine Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Cocaine use may cause erectile dysfunction because it constricts blood vessels and interferes with blood flow in the body. Heavy cocaine use may also cause additional effects on sexual performance for both men and women.

Learn more about Cocaine & Sex

What Does Cocaine Do To Your Brain?

Cocaine increases the amount of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that promotes feelings of pleasure. Over time, increased dopamine caused by cocaine use can lead to addiction. 

The drug also poses other serious risks to your brain, including gray matter loss and brain cell death.

Learn more about Cocaine & Your Brain

What Is Cocaine Cut With?

Some people cut cocaine with other drugs to intensify the high. Popular examples include caffeine, prescription stimulants like Adderall, local anesthetics like benzocaine, and illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. 

In addition, many drug dealers cut cocaine with non-drug additives like laundry detergent, boric acid, and laxatives. Because these powdery substances resemble cocaine, they allow dealers to use very small amounts of cocaine while charging buyers for large amounts.

Learn more about Cocaine Cutting Agents

What Happens If You Mix Cocaine With Viagra?

Mixing cocaine with Viagra can cause health problems like heart attack, stroke, and priapism (a painful erection lasting more than 4 hours). You may also become physically dependent on the mixture and experience sexual dysfunction without it.

Learn more about Mixing Cocaine & Viagra

What’s The Difference Between Crack & Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant powder taken from the coca plant, which is often snorted. Crack is the rock form of cocaine that is typically smoked. Crack kicks in faster than cocaine, but lasts for a shorter amount of time. Both crack and cocaine can lead to overdose, withdrawal, and addiction.

Learn more about Cocaine Vs. Crack

What Does Cocaine Do To Your Nose?

Snorting cocaine can permanently damage several parts of your nose, which can lead to constant sinus infections, nosebleeds, breathing problems, loss of smell, and more side effects. Surgery may be needed to fix the nose in severe cases.

Learn more about Snorting Cocaine

How Often Is Cocaine Actually Pure?

It is highly unlikely that cocaine purchased online or on the street will be of high purity.

Cocaine cutting agents are chosen specifically to mimic the physical characteristics of either powder cocaine or crack cocaine, and it can be all but impossible to determine the purity of a batch of cocaine by sight, touch, taste, or smell alone.

Learn more about Pure Cocaine

Can Cocaine Cause Mouth Problems?

Cocaine may cause mouth problems including jaw grinding, worn down enamel, gum damage, lesions, infections, perforations between your nostrils and/or in the top of your mouth, and more.

Read Does Cocaine Cause Mouth Problems to learn more

Is Cocaine A Safe Pre-Workout Supplement?

Using cocaine as pre-workout is dangerous and increases the risk of fatal effects. Cocaine should not be used as a supplement or part of any dietary program. 

When combined with exercise, it increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest. Along with health problems, long-term use of cocaine causes changes in the brain that may lead to dependence and addiction. 

Read Is Cocaine A Safe Pre-Workout Supplement to learn more

How Is Cocaine Made?

Cocaine is made by processing the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. The leaves are processed with several toxic chemicals into coca paste, cocaine base, and cocaine hydrochloride. Cocaine hydrochloride is the fine, white powder that is packaged into kilogram sized bricks. 

Learn more about How Cocaine Is Made

What Is Cocaine Hydrochloride?

Cocaine hydrochloride is a pure form of cocaine. It usually takes the form of a salt or solution. Some forms of cocaine hydrochloride are approved for medical use, but many others are targets of illicit drug abuse.

Read What Is Cocaine Hydrochloride to learn more

Does Cocaine Have Any Medical Uses?

Cocaine has one medical use as a local anesthetic or numbing agent. It can be used by surgeons operating on the mouth, nose, or throat to numb the area and reduce bleeding. No other use of cocaine is approved by the FDA.

Read Is Cocaine Approved For Medical Use to learn more

Where Does Cocaine Come From?

Cocaine comes from the leaves of the Erythroxylon coca plant, which is native to South America.

In the 1800s, scientists used coca leaves to create cocaine powder, which can be injected or snorted. In the 1980s, people started cooking cocaine powder with baking soda to make smokeable rocks called crack.

Learn more about The Origin & History Of Cocaine

Is There A 12-Step Group For Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine Anonymous is a worldwide 12-step group formed to fight cocaine addiction. In-person and online support groups help people talk through their experiences. 

Cocaine Anonymous’ twelve-step recovery program helps people acknowledge their addiction, and then find ways to beat it.

Learn more about Cocaine Anonymous & 12-Step Recovery

Can Cocaine Use Cause Insomnia?

As a stimulant, cocaine suppresses the urge to sleep in the short term, leading to sleep deprivation after prolonged use. In the long term, even after you stop using cocaine, it can throw off your internal clock and disrupt vital stages of sleep.

Learn more about Insomnia From Cocaine Use

What Are The Effects Of Cocaine On The Heart?

Cocaine damages the heart in many ways. Some of the most dangerous effects include heart attack, stroke, cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, and chest pain.

Learn more about How Cocaine Affects The Heart

Is It Dangerous For Diabetics To Use Cocaine?

Cocaine can increase the risk of dangerous health complications associated with diabetes. Cocaine and diabetes both increase blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. 

Learn more about Cocaine Use & Diabetes

Does Cocaine Cause Depression?

Cocaine can cause depression in people for various reasons. Firstly, depression can be an effect of cocaine use . Secondly, people who become addicted to this stimulant drug can suffer from withdrawal symptoms, one of which being depression. 

Learn more about Cocaine Use & Depression

Can You Eat Cocaine?

Yes. When ingested orally, cocaine is rubbed along the gums which allows it to go directly into the bloodstream and work within 10 minutes. Cocaine can also be swallowed but since it goes through the digestive system, it requires more time to take effect.

To learn more, read Can You Eat Cocaine?

What Happens When You Plug Cocaine?

When you plug cocaine, you insert cocaine into the rectum. The process is known as plugging and involves mixing cocaine with water and using a syringe to insert the substance. This allows the drug to enter the bloodstream more quickly which can result in a greater euphoric experience. 

Learn more about Plugging Cocaine

Does Cocaine Cause Rhabdomyolysis?

Smoking, injecting, or snorting cocaine can lead to rhabdomyolysis, or breakdown of muscle tissue. Rhabdomyolysis is a potentially life-threatening condition that usually needs medical treatment. 

Cocaine can also cause similar problems in other parts of the body, including the spinal cord and chest areas.

Learn more about Cocaine & Rhabdomyolsis

Can Cocaine Kill You?

Yes, cocaine can kill you in several ways. This includes an overdose on excessive cocaine use, an overdose on cocaine mixed with other drugs like opioids, and health issues like cardiac arrest, stroke, and seizure. 

To learn more, read Can Cocaine Kill You?

What Is Cocaethylene?

Cocaethylene is a chemical compound formed in the liver following ingestion of cocaine along with alcohol. 

Cocaethylene is known to cause long-lasting euphoria and intoxication and is associated with a variety of health risks and other effects including aggression, liver damage, cardiovascular dysfunction, and stroke.

Learn more about Cocaethylene

Is There A Link Between Cocaine Use & Bipolar Disorder?

There is a correlation between bipolar disorder and cocaine addiction. If someone is bipolar and uses cocaine, these two can present as a dual diagnosis if cocaine use develops into a substance use disorder. 

Learn more about Bipolar Disorder & Cocaine Use

Does Cocaine Abuse Cause Schizophrenia?

While cocaine abuse can be extremely harmful to both physical and mental health, it does not cause schizophrenia. However, cocaine use can worsen schizophrenic symptoms and make the treatment process more difficult.

Learn more about Schizophrenia & Cocaine Use

What Happens When Someone With ADHD Uses Cocaine?

When someone with ADHD takes stimulant drugs, including cocaine, they may experience effects that include alertness, focus, and sedation. The increase in dopamine from cocaine use may also suppress ADHD symptoms for a short period of time, but this is not recommended.

Learn more about ADHD & Cocaine Use

Is There A Connection Between Cocaine & Anxiety Disorders?

Yes. Research has found that generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is more likely to occur in people with cocaine addiction than the general population. Symptoms of anxiety, like panic attacks, have also been linked to cocaine use.

Learn more about Anxiety Disorders & Cocaine Use

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

MedlinePlus - Cocaine
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Cocaine
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Cocaine Drug Facts
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Commonly Used Drugs Charts
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Cocaine Trends & Statistics
United States Drug Enforcement Administration - Cocaine

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