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Updated on September 26, 2022
5 min read

Symptoms of Cocaine Use

Symptoms of Cocaine Use & Addiction

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug. It is one of the most addictive drugs in the world.

The DEA classifies it as a schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. 

Cocaine often starts with recreational use. But addiction can develop quickly. Many people start doing cocaine at parties and wind up using it more and more. This is how addiction develops.

If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine use, it’s essential to get help. Otherwise, the addiction can take control of your life and even wind up killing you.

If you can recognize the signs of cocaine use and addiction, you can intervene early enough to save a life.

Is Cocaine Addiction Affecting Your Life?

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Symptoms of Cocaine Use

Mental and behavioral signs of cocaine use include:

  • Staying up very late
  • Insomnia
  • Over-excitement
  • Paranoia
  • Overconfidence
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Engaging in risky sex
  • Missing or being late to work
  • Withdrawing from loved ones
  • Decrease in personal hygiene
  • Withdrawing from sober friends
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, or touch
  • Stealing or selling personal property
  • Bizarre, violent, and erratic behaviors
  • Feelings of excitement and confidence followed by depression

Physical signs of cocaine use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of appetite
  • Impotence
  • Runny nose or frequent sniffles
  • Bloody nose
  • Faster heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Shaking, tapping, or twitching
  • White powder around nostrils
  • Higher body temperature and blood pressure
  • Significant weight loss without exercise

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Signs of cocaine addiction will vary from person to person. Common symptoms of cocaine addiction include:

  • Paranoia
  • Risky behavior
  • Financial problems
  • Secrecy and lying
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Partying more and more
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Deteriorating personal hygiene
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Hanging out with new friends that only party
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work or in your family
  • Continuing to use cocaine even though it affects them negatively
  • Spending a lot of time searching, using, and recovering from cocaine

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Signs of Cocaine Overdose

Symptoms of cocaine overdose include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Anxiety and panic
  • Intense sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion, seizures, and tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Trouble breathing
  • Very high body temperature
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke

If you suspect a cocaine overdose, call 911 immediately. The situation requires professional medical help. 

If the user experiences a seizure, move them away from any objects that may harm them. A cold compress may help decrease body temperature.

How to Help Someone Using Cocaine

Cocaine addiction can alienate the user. It can also hurt their family and friends. Helping someone who uses cocaine is difficult, but it can improve everyone’s life.

Here are some things that you should and shouldn’t do:

DO educate yourself

Before you talk to the person with an addiction, learn all you can about addiction. Educate yourself about withdrawal, detox, and treatment options. 

The more you know about cocaine addiction, the more confident and calm you will be.

DON’T take it personally

Many cocaine users will blame their loved ones for their addiction. It’s easy to listen to this and blame yourself.

But remember, a cocaine addiction changes a person’s brain chemistry. Their attitude and decisions are influenced by the disease they are suffering from.

DO offer support

When you do confront them, don’t be judgemental. Let them know that you’re aware of their problem and offer your love and support. 

Let them know you’re educating yourself and review treatment options. 

DON’T try to control it

The truth is, you have no control over this situation. Trying to control their actions or force their behavior to change often backfires in your face.

All you can do is offer your love and support, and let them figure their own situation out.

DO establish boundaries and follow through on consequences

If you want to stop enabling addictive behavior, it’s important to set boundaries. It’s essential that the addict understands that their behavior has consequences.

If you say you will enforce consequences, you must follow through with them.

DON’T accept unacceptable behavior

Brushing off addictive behavior can be enabling. This often leads to abusive relationships. You need to protect yourself and the people around you. Sometimes this means leaving the situation or not allowing a user back into your home.

DO seek help for yourself

It’s also essential to look after yourself and seek help if you experience mental health issues related to your loved one’s addiction. 

Consider attending support groups for relatives, partners, and friends of people suffering from addiction, such as Al-Anon.

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Cocaine Addiction Treatment

There are several options for cocaine addiction treatment. The best treatment is customized based on the patient’s needs.

The three most effective types of treatment are:

1. Inpatient treatment

Inpatient is the most intensive treatment option. It has the highest recovery success rate.

Patients live, sleep, eat, and undergo therapy and other treatments at the inpatient facility. Programs usually last 30, 60, or 90 days. Longer treatment is an option if it is necessary. 

Benefits of inpatient treatment are:

  • 24/7 medical support
  • Structured living
  • Sense of community
  • Nutritional specialists
  • Aftercare planning

Inpatient treatment is ideal for people who:

  • Are going to go through intense withdrawal during detox
  • Have co-occurring disorders
  • Have relapsed before

2. Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are considered intensive outpatient treatments. Patients attend treatment at the facility four to seven days a week and go home to sleep.

Common benefits of PHPs include:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Medication and medical assistance
  • Case management
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • Fitness and nutrition classes
  • Job skill groups
  • Recovery support groups
  • Aftercare planning

Partial hospitalization programs are best for people who:

  • Need medical supervision
  • Need more support and resources than outpatient programs
  • Have a secure living situation and support system at home
  • Need comprehensive care but need to work or take family responsibility
  • Finish an inpatient program but need to continue treatment

3. Outpatient treatment

Outpatient treatment programs take place three to five days a week. The patients undergo therapy and treatment at the facility then return home to sleep.

Benefits of outpatient treatment include:

  • One on one therapy
  • Group counseling
  • Relapse prevention
  • Educational lectures and programs

Outpatient treatment is ideal for patients who:

  • Have a high level of motivation to become sober
  • Secure housing and support system
  • Work, school, or family obligations
  • No other health issues
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Updated on September 26, 2022
7 sources cited
Updated on September 26, 2022
  1. Cocaine DrugFacts,  National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 13 Jul. 2018.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated?”, 2018.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Is Cocaine?”, May 2016.
  4. Day, Jo Ann. “Settings for Substance Abuse Treatment at Johns Hopkins.” Settings for Substance Abuse Treatment at Johns Hopkins, 22 June 2017. 
  5. DEA. “Cocaine.” United States Drug Enforcement Administration. 
  6. Kampman, Kyle M. “The Treatment of Cocaine Use Disorder.” Science Advances, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1 Oct. 2019.
  7. O'Brien, Megan S, and James C Anthony. “Risk of Becoming Cocaine Dependent: Epidemiological Estimates for the United States, 2000–2001.” Nature News, Nature Publishing Group, 23 Mar. 2005.

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