Cocaine Addiction: Symptoms, Health Effects, and Treatment

Cocaine is the second most popular illicit drug in the United States, despite declining usage over the past decade. While, it was once a powerful tool for medicinal use, today it is used primarily as an illegal stimulant. Cocaine is often sought after due to its perceived positive effects including increased energy, heightened self-confidence, and feelings of euphoria.

However, when abused it also has dangerous side effects including cardiomyopathy, heart attack, stroke, and mood disorders. Cocaine is highly addictive and its effects can be felt almost instantaneously for users.

The drug can be taken in many forms including snorting, smoking, and injection. Crack cocaine is a cheaper and less pure version of the drug that is consumed via smoking. It is the most common form of consumption. Smoking crack can lead to its own set of side effects including respiratory problems. Smoking cocaine as opposed to snorting or injection, has a greater risk of negative health consequences according to some studies.

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

  • Increased agitation
  • Unrestrained enthusiasm
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased cold-like symptoms and nosebleeds
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Lack of inhibition

Over time, cocaine changes brain chemistry causing erratic behavior, psychotic symptoms, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It can also cause rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, and delusions.


  • 68% of people seeking treatment had consumed the drug by smoking it.
  • A 2012 survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that almost 38 million Americans had used cocaine at some point during their life.
  • The same survey in 2012 showed that almost 4.7 million people had used cocaine in the last year. Another survey conducted in 2015 puts that number at 5 million.
  • Men have been shown to abuse cocaine more than women by 175%.
  • Cocaine was found in more than 40% of emergency room visits related to drug use, the most common of all illicit substances.

Cocaine Addiction

The drug’s powerful and short-lived effects lead to its high potential for abuse. People who use cocaine rapidly develop tolerance and must increasingly consume more of the substance to achieve similar effects over time. Studies have also shown that starting at a younger age increases the risk of dependence on cocaine. However, due to the need for an ever increasing dose, no one is immune to becoming addicted.

There are several options available for treatment. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment is available to treat cocaine addiction as well as other solutions such as group therapy and pharmaceutical based therapy.

If you or a loved one is considering your options for treatment, our staff can help walk you through the options available to you as you navigate through this difficult season. With over 30 years of experience, our staff is well equipped to help answer any questions that you may have about getting help for cocaine addiction.