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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?

Understanding the signs of cocaine addiction can help you determine whether you or a loved one needs treatment.

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine use can quickly spiral into cocaine addiction, and many people who develop an addiction to cocaine will need professional help to recover. Understanding the signs of cocaine addiction, symptoms of cocaine addiction, and how to achieve recovery can help people navigate a troubling period in their lives.  

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illicit substance derived from the coca plant. Far from being a “natural” substance, cocaine is highly processed, refined, and purified before being sold on the street. Cocaine is a stimulant drug that can create feelings of euphoria, restless energy, and intense focus — but cocaine abuse comes at a cost.

Treatment May Be Necessary to Recover

Cocaine addiction is serious, and people may need the help of cocaine addiction treatment centers in order to recover.

How Is Cocaine Used?

No matter how cocaine is used, the potential for developing cocaine addiction is high. Cocaine is typically used in one of three ways:

  • Snorting cocaine
  •  Smoking crack cocaine
  •  Intravenous cocaine use

What Is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addiction describes a disorder where people struggle to stop cocaine use, even though it is causing harmful consequences. Cocaine addiction isn’t just a matter of willpower; prolonged cocaine use can actually cause structural changes in the brain, which makes it more difficult for people to stop on their own. 1  

Addiction Diagnosis

Addiction to cocaine is diagnosed using the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It has 11 key criteria:  2

  1. Cocaine is taken in larger amounts or for longer periods than intended.
  2. Several attempts have been made to cut down or stop cocaine use unsuccessfully.
  3. An inordinate amount of time is spent using, recovering from, or seeking out cocaine.
  4. There are intense cravings for cocaine.
  5. Cocaine use has prevented the fulfillment of obligations at school, work, or home.
  6. Continued cocaine use despite harmful consequences.
  7. Hobbies or activities are given up because of cocaine use.
  8. Cocaine is used when it is dangerous to do so.
  9. Cocaine has worsened physical or mental health symptoms but hasn’t been given up.
  10. Increased tolerance for cocaine, meaning more of the drug must be used to achieve the desired effect.
  11. Withdrawal symptoms if cocaine use is suddenly stopped.

A Spectrum of Severity

As with other substance use disorders, cocaine addiction occurs on a spectrum of severity. People who experience two to three of the cocaine abuse symptoms above are considered to have a mild substance use disorder, four to five cocaine addiction signs are considered to be a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more symptoms of cocaine addiction indicate a severe disorder.

Cocaine is Highly Addictive

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug.  3 Researchers estimate that one in five people who use cocaine regularly will develop an addiction to cocaine and not be able to stop on their own.  4

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Why Is Cocaine Addictive?

Like many other drugs, cocaine use causes a large spike in the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that has been repeatedly linked to addiction, repeated behaviors, and learning. After sustained cocaine abuse, people may have difficulty finding a sense of reward from other activities and return to cocaine use again and again.  

Cocaine Addiction Statistics

Over 1.2 million people in the United States suffer from a cocaine use disorder. This accounts for half a percent of the adult population, making cocaine abuse relatively common. Cocaine use is even more prevalent, with the use of cocaine occurring in almost 18% of adults in 2020 alone.  5

Causes and Risk Factors of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine use does not automatically cause cocaine addiction, but there are a few risk factors that increase the likelihood a person will experience symptoms of addiction to cocaine. These include:

  • Environmental factors, such as where you grew up
  • A family history of addiction
  • Peer pressure from friends or family
  • The age at which cocaine use begins
  • Co-occurring mental illness
  • Lack of healthy coping skills

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?

The signs of cocaine addiction can be hard to spot, as addiction to cocaine and associated drug use can be hidden. However, physical and behavioral signs may give an indication. These will be detailed below.

Physical Signs of Cocaine Addiction

While physical signs aren't necessarily a sure indicator of cocaine addiction, they may be a cause for concern. The physical signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Weight loss
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Track marks on the arms
  • Tooth decay
  • Bags underneath the eyes

Behavioral Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Changes in behavior are also common symptoms of cocaine addiction. These may include:

  • Loss of interest in favorite hobbies or activities
  • Changes in friend groups
  • Lying about behavior
  • Attempts to acquire money
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness

Financial Consequences

Not only can cocaine addiction result in physical and behavioral consequences, but significant financial difficulties can also be caused by the use of cocaine. Treatment can empower individuals to regain control of their health and finances.

Side Effects and Dangers of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction has serious side effects and dangers that can only be prevented by stopping cocaine use and entering a cocaine addiction treatment program. The most serious danger, cocaine overdose, happens when too much cocaine is ingested. It can result in heart attack and ultimately death.

Other dangers include:

  • Cocaine addiction
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiac problems
  • Risk of infectious disease
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Interactions with prescription and illicit drugs

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction and Abuse

Cocaine addiction rehabilitation is the best way to treat a cocaine use disorder. Substance use disorders are highly treatable, and evidence-based therapies can help.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Treatment Facilities and Opportunities

The following facilities and therapies can help resolve the symptoms of cocaine addiction and start people on the road to recovery:

Find Help for Cocaine Addiction at Ripple Ranch Recovery

Ripple Ranch Recovery has the experience needed to treat the signs of cocaine addiction. Our multidisciplinary team emphasizes evidence-based therapies, compassionate support, and peer support for addiction, which combine to provide the tools for people to live a lasting and worthwhile life in recovery.

When you’re ready to learn about addiction to cocaine and how you can break free of it, reach out to the team at Ripple Ranch Recovery and start your journey toward cocaine addiction recovery today.