Skip to content

Cocaine Abuse and Addiction: Symptoms, Risk Factors, Warning Signs and Treatments

Cocaine Abuse and Addiction


Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. It is made from the leaves of coca plant, which is native to South America. Cocaine is also called coke, rock, snow, blow and crack. It’s fully illegal in United States. Although doctors can use cocaine for medical purposes, such as local anesthesia for some surgeries, recreational cocaine use is illegal.

It comes in a few different forms. The most common is a fine, white powder. Also, it can be in solid rock crystal form. Street dealers often mix this cocaine with other things like talcum powder, cornstarch or flour to increase the profit. It’s one of the most dangerous drugs known to man. Once an individual starts taking the drug, it has proven almost impossible to become free of its grip – physically and mentally. 

More cocaine you use, the more your brain will adapt to it. Now, you will need a stronger dose to feel the same high. This can lead to a dangerous addiction or overdose. More recently, drug abuse is referred to as drug-use disorders. It is also referred to as addictive behavior or chemical dependency.


  • Men tend to use the drug more often than women
  • Adults between the age of 18 to 25 years have by far the highest rate of cocaine use
  • In 2014, 1.5 million Americans over 12 years of age had used cocaine in the past month
  • In 2014, about 913,000 people suffered from a cocaine use disorder.


Powdered hydro-chloride salt form of cocaine may be injected, mixed with liquor, swallowed, or applied to oral, vaginal, or even rectal mucous membranes. Most of its users snort the white powder into their nose. Some users rub it onto their gums.

Some abusers dissolve the cocaine into the water and inject it with a needle for rapid absorption of the drug. But, this substantially increases the risk of overdose. Some cocaine users also heat up the rock crystal and breathe its smoke into their lungs. Inhaling the drug as vapor or smoke speeds up the absorption with less health risk than injection. Cocaine is often used with alcohol, sedatives such as diazepam, lorazepam or heroin, as an upper or downer combination.


Cocaine increases the levels of the natural chemical messenger, called dopamine in the brain circuits that control pleasure. This causes intense feelings of energy and alertness.


Individual Risk Factors:

These risk factors may include:

  • Thrill—seeking behaviors
  • Low recognition of the dangers of drug abuse
  • Early childhood aggression or other behavior problems
  • Being the victim of abuse
  • Mental health
  • Peer pressure or academic problems

While men are more likely to develop cocaine abuse, women are thought to experience more cravings, social and family problems and depression as a result of abusing cocaine.

Social Risk Factors:

Social risk factors of cocaine abuse include:

  • Lower levels of education
  • Peer pressure
  • Easy availability of drugs
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Living in an area that has high crime or drug use

Family Risk Factors:

Family risk factors of drug abuse include:

  • Divorce
  • High family conflicts
  • Low parental supervision
  • Inconsistent or harsh discipline
  • Poor family communication


Warning signs of individuals that abusing cocaine may include:

  • Low motivation
  • Excessive anger
  • Rapid changes in mood
  • Change in behavior and functioning
  • Deep depression
  • Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Drastic change in friends
  • Stealing and manipulation of others
  • Failing to meet obligations at home, school or work


Short Term Side-Effects:

Short term side effects of cocaine may include:

  • Intense happiness
  • Anger and irritability
  • Paranoid feeling
  • Decreased appetite
  • Extreme sensitivity to sound, touch, and sight

Long Term Side-Effects:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of smell
  • Mood problems
  • Runny nose
  • Sexual trouble
  • Lung damage
  • Changes in brain’s chemistry
  • Convulsions and seizures
  • Hepatitis or HIV (in case if you inject it)
  • Bowel decay (in case if you swallow it)

It can make it harder for you to sleep, think and recall things from memory. Your reaction time may be slower. And you’re at higher risk for more stomach, lung and heart problems. An overdose often leads to a heart attack or stroke.


After evaluating the symptoms and medical history, doctor may recommend blood test, urine analysis, CT scans, MRI scans, chest X-ray and spinal tap.


The most important part of any treatment plan of cocaine addiction is that you’ve to give up the drug right away. Counseling and some other therapies are the most common treatments for cocaine addiction. Sessions with a trained therapist may help make changes to thought processes and behavior. Unfortunately, there is no medicine approved to cure the addiction of cocaine.

When an individual take the drug very first time, he/she may go through a phase called withdrawal. Symptoms may include depression, fatigue, anxiety, increased hunger, trouble concentrating, nightmares, nerve pain or muscle aches. A cocaine overdose is more difficult to treat. Physical signs may include trouble breathing, chest pain, increased sweating, heart rate and body temperatures, nausea, vomiting, confusion or seizures.


Call your doctor if you’ve psychiatric symptoms; such as major depression, mania, violence, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts or hallucinations.

You need to call your doctor if the following conditions develop:

  • If you’re pregnant and have vaginal bleeding, premature labor pain or ankle swelling with high blood pressure
  • If you have the redness with mild swelling and pain at injection area
  • If you have foul, itchy, or bloody discharge, or facial pain.

Severe headache, chest pain, loss of consciousness, generalized seizures, loss of vision, seeing double, slurred speech, inability to speak or coma are all symptoms that demand emergency care.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *