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Overview: Cocaine Abuse & Effects

Cocaine is a drug derived from the coca leaf, which is native to South America. Dried coca leaves are ground up with several additives, such as laundry detergents and creatine. The resulting powder, which is most commonly snorted, is shipped internationally as one of the most significant illicit drug trades in the world. It is illegal in nearly every country.

There are many effects associated with the use of cocaine. These include:

  • An elevated sense of self
  • Euphoria
  • Fast-talking or hyper movements
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weight loss
  • Nervousness or paranoia
  • Elevated heart rate
  • An increased libido
  • An inability to comprehend signs of danger
  • Numbing of physical and mental pain
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Reduced need for sleep or lack of fatigue
  • Feelings of invincibility

Cocaine Nose: Side Effect of Cocaine Use

Cocaine nose, or coke nose, is a common side effect of snorting cocaine. An estimated 2 million Americans use cocaine, and every user risks developing coke nose with prolonged and excessive use of the drug. In addition to this, there are many other side effects that cocaine users should be aware of.

These include: 

  • “Coke nose” and other nasal damage
  • Anxiety and tension
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Unpredictable violent/aggressive behavior
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced appetite
  • Substance addiction
  • Coma
  • Death


Cocaine, or coke, is an intensely addictive stimulant that causes physical, neurological, and psychiatric symptoms. Coke nose is a very common side effect of snorting cocaine.

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What Causes Coke Nose? 

Coke nose is caused by excessively snorting of cocaine.

It can occur gradually over many years. In extreme cases, it can occur after one prolonged period of excessive use. The condition arises when blood supply is cut off to the nasal membranes. While cocaine restricts blood flow, the substances cocaine is cut with also pose risks.

Signs & Symptoms of Coke Nose

Coke nose can affect anybody who uses the drug long-term or frequently in the short-term.

Symptoms of coke nose include:

  • Sinus issues
  • Runny nose all the time
  • Rotting skin on the bottom of the nose
  • Flattened or collapsed nasal bridge
  • Disfiguration on the nose
  • Loss of smell
  • Pain in the nasal area

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Nose

Some symptoms of coke nose become worse over time — and other symptoms develop as long-term effects of the condition. Pain caused by coke nose damage can last for years after discontinuing use. 

Disfiguration of the nose can also be severe and may require plastic surgery to repair. Long-term breathing issues are common, and surgery may be needed to fix deviated septums or other complications that affect breathing. 

Some other long-term effects of cocaine use in addition to coke nose include:

  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Acute head pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Psychosis and/or hallucinations
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Impaired judgment
  • Aggressive or altered behavior
  • Cardiac arrest/heart attack
  • Stroke


Snorting cocaine restricts blood flow to the nasal membrane and can cause sinus issues, pain, loss of smell, and nose disfiguration, among others. Aside from coke nose, cocaine can also cause heart problems, insomnia, psychosis, impaired judgment, and stroke.

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Other Risks & Side Effects of Snorting Cocaine

Cocaine Eyes

Cocaine use can cause pupil dilation, which delays the reaction to light and causes redness and soreness. Cocaine also constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure, which also leads to red, bloodshot eyes. In more severe cases, this can cause significant damage to the cornea, which can damage the eyes long after the effects of the drug have dissipated.

Elevated Heart Rate

An elevated heart rate is a result of how the drug interacts with the nervous system. Cocaine is a stimulant and affects the nervous system similar to other drugs in this class, causing a rapid heartbeat and higher than normal blood pressure. 

Cocaine Overdose

Acute cocaine overdose can lead to seizures, cardiac arrest, and even death. The lethal dosage is different for each person and depends on several factors, such as tolerance levels, underlying conditions, and interaction with other ingested substances. 

Sinus Infections

Sinus infections are very common with both long-term and short-term nasal cocaine use. These infections result from inflammation of nasal mucous membranes. This is caused by cocaine powder that enters the nasal cavity. The inflamed membranes are more susceptible to pathogens introduced either along with the drug or shortly afterward.

Nasal Damage

Snorting cocaine leads to many forms of nasal damage. This includes frequent runny nose, nosebleeds, septal perforation, saddle nose, and crusting of nasal passages.

Deviated Septum (Nasal Septum)

A deviated nasal septum is a common side effect of excessive cocaine use and is often associated with coke nose. This requires surgery to fix and can lead to breathing problems if left untreated. 

Cocaine Statistics



People in the United States are regular cocaine users.



People will try cocaine for the first time each year.



Of first-time cocaine users will be addicted within the next 24 months.

Cocaine Use Treatment Options

Cocaine drug use can be challenging to stop without help. There are several addiction treatment options available, including detox programs, inpatient treatment centers, and rehab facilities run by medical professionals. 

While the withdrawal effects are not usually as life-threatening as stopping opioid or benzodiazepine use, treatment should still be sought for anybody who uses cocaine regularly and wants to quit.   


More than 2.2 million people in the United States use cocaine. They are at risk for developing cocaine-related problems such as heart diseases, sinus infections, and nasal damage. Several addiction treatment options are available for users who want to stop cocaine use. These include detox programs, inpatient treatment centers, and outpatient rehab facilities.


  1. NIDA “Cocaine.” National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  2. NIDA. "What are the short-term effects of cocaine use?." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 Jun. 2020,
  3. DEA. “Cocaine.” United States Drug Enforcement Administration.
  4. Bustamante, Jaleesa. Substance Abuse and Addiction Statistics [2021]. 8 Mar. 2021,
  5. Kampman, Kyle M. “The Treatment of Cocaine Use Disorder.” Science Advances, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1 Oct. 2019,
  6. 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,

Related Pages

Crack Cocaine: Effects, Risks & Addiction Treatment

Smoking Crack

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