Cocaine Addiction: Definition, Common Signs & Options For Help


Are you concerned that you or someone you know is facing a cocaine addiction? This highly addictive drug destroys people’s lives, and it’s no longer a rich person’s problem.

Cocaine use affects the lives of millions of Americans, and it can be affecting yours right now.

Thankfully, there’s help for people to understand and overcome their addiction to cocaine. Learning as much as possible about cocaine and its effects is the first step toward recovery.

What Is a Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addiction is a reliance on the substance that is typically physical and mental.

A person using cocaine will experience a release of dopamine in their brain. The dopamine creates euphoria for the user, which is short-lived.

Cocaine addiction starts with cravings which lead to continued use. Unfortunately, as you use more, your tolerance increases, resulting in a need for more cocaine.

Tolerance and continued use lead to dependence on the drug. Your body will become dependent on cocaine; without it, you will become sick with withdrawal symptoms.

Do Cocaine Addiction Urges Go Away?

Cocaine addiction urges will never go away. The desire to use again usually affects you when you are at your lowest. Addicts in recovery must learn how to deal with their urges, so they do not relapse.

Here are several ways to deal with cravings.

  • Learn to recognize your triggers. Recovering addicts must identify the people, places, and situations that make them want to use drugs. You can avoid them when possible, but you must have strategies to cope with the urge if you can’t.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches several techniques to overcome your urges to use drugs. You can use redirection, distraction, and visualization.
  • Get a hobby. It might sound simple, but investing in a new hobby is an excellent way to deal with cravings. You can distract yourself by doing something you enjoy. People often get the urge to use drugs when they are bored.
  • Counseling. Recovering addicts should get counseling to help them identify issues that are leading to drug use. They can get help dealing with any trauma they are experiencing.
  • Reach out to friends and family. Every recovering addict needs a support system. You can attend a support group or contact family members who will help.

Forms of Cocaine Addiction

There are several types of addiction.

  • Recreational user: Some people will use cocaine in a social setting with friends and consider it the same as enjoying a glass of wine, which becomes problematic when they cannot function without the cocaine.
  • Secret user: People that hide their cocaine use from friends and family are typically headed for trouble and the use of the drug increases in the privacy of their homes. We refer to these addicts as functional because they can attend to their jobs and daily lives.
  • Full-blown cocaine addict: A cocaine addict cannot function without using cocaine and must use it several times a day to manage their day-to-day schedule. Cocaine addiction is a costly habit that usually leads to financial problems before health problems occur.

Cocaine Addiction Statistics

A 2018 study by the CDC shows that age plays an essential factor in cocaine use. The study showed that only 1.9% of teenagers between the age of 12 and 17 used cocaine compared to 5.6% of adults between the ages of 18 to 25.

The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) identified Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island as the states with the highest cocaine use by young adults.

A 2018 report by the CDC showed that cocaine use was more prevalent in males than females. Approximately 2.8% of males reported cocaine use compared to 1.3% of females.

A 2017 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report shows that education level is a factor in cocaine use. The highest use of cocaine in 2015 was by college students.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that cocaine use can make drivers more aggressive and reckless. They conducted a study that showed that 37% of sobriety tests were due to the use of multiple drugs, including cocaine, while driving.

What Are the Signs of Cocaine Addiction?

The signs of cocaine addiction will vary from person to person depending on how long they have been addicted, the level of addiction, and physical dependency. The most common signs of cocaine addiction include the following.

  • Extreme mood swings: People can feel euphoric and suddenly experience depression when off the drug. The cycle can happen several times a day, depending on the frequency of cocaine use.
  • Anxiety: Cocaine addicts often display signs of anxiety when experiencing cravings. They will be worried about their next high. Addicts are often consumed with thoughts about acquiring more cocaine and how they will pay for it.
  • Increase in risky behavior: Addicts will participate in risky behaviors to earn money to support their habit. They will engage in risky sex because they ride a euphoric cocaine wave. Addicts do not think about the consequences of their actions.
  • Financial problems: Cocaine is expensive. Addicts will soon experience financial difficulty when they try to sustain their habit. When you notice a friend or family member experiencing financial hardship for no apparent reason, drugs can sometimes be the culprit.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family: A drug addict will find it very difficult to hide their addiction from people that know them well. They will start to avoid friends and family that will recognize the signs.
  • Chronic runny nose: A cocaine addict that snorts the drug will have a chronic runny nose. The drug damages the nasal passages, which contributes to the constant dripping. It becomes challenging to explain a permanently runny nose when you don’t have a cold.
  • Restlessness or excited and manic speech: An addict under the influence of cocaine will appear very hyper. They will have difficulty sitting still and will often talk fast with much animation.

Types of Unhealthy Cocaine Behavior

Cocaine is an expensive way to get high for a short time. Addicts are always searching for their next high, and they need money. Cravings can make people steal so they can satisfy their addiction. Lying and stealing go hand in hand with addiction.

Some people inject cocaine which leads to immediate drug effects. Cocaine users ignore safety precautions when sharing needles for their high.

More significant amounts of cocaine can lead to nosebleeds, violent behavior, heart attacks, strokes, and even death. Long-term cocaine use will damage the lungs, heart, brain, and gastrointestinal system.

Regular cocaine use will lead to significant behavioral and psychological changes, such as depression and extreme paranoia.

Some cocaine users mix their cocaine with other drugs or alcohol. Mixing can be extremely dangerous to the respiratory system and lead to overdose.

What Is the Main Cause of Cocaine Addiction?

It is impossible to narrow down the cause to just one. There are several reasons why people become addicted to cocaine.

Addicts need to identify the cause of their addiction to better deal with it. No matter the reason, once someone is addicted, they no longer have a choice. Here are the four leading causes that contribute to cocaine addiction.

  • Genetics: People who have parents that are addicts are more likely to become addicts themselves. They may have issues from childhood resulting from being raised by addicts, and they may have been exposed to drugs at a very early age which can lead to more acceptance.
  • Peer pressure: Cocaine is a popular party drug. Some people try it to overcome social anxiety or friends pressure them. Regardless of the reason, when people start depending on cocaine to function socially, an addiction will soon follow. They begin to use cocaine at other times when they are alone.
  • Mental illness: Many cocaine addicts have a mental illness. People who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders are prone to addiction. The effects of mental illness will lead people to try anything to escape the pain.

Someone suffering from depression will crave the euphoria that comes from cocaine use. Unfortunately, their crash period will be even more intense.

How Cocaine Addiction Affects the Brain

Cocaine is a powerful drug that affects a person’s entire body. The most significant effects are on the brain.

The use of cocaine increases the amount of dopamine your brain produces, and dopamine gives you intense pleasure and euphoria.

Cocaine addicts who use cocaine regularly have brains that become depleted of dopamine, and they will need more significant amounts of cocaine to achieve the same high.

A cocaine addict will eventually need cocaine to produce normal levels of dopamine. Once this happens, you will need cocaine regularly, or you will go into withdrawal. Cocaine damages the brain’s structure, which can lead to seizure disorders.

If you are not already suffering from a mental illness, cocaine use can lead to anxiety and depression. The use of cocaine will damage brain neurons and will slow down your brain activity.

Cocaine addicts are in danger of losing grey matter, which can affect functions related to memory, movement, emotions, speech, and sensory perceptions.

What Is the Personality of a Cocaine Addict?

Cocaine can have a significant impact on your personality. If you’re shy and reserved, cocaine will make you appear more confident and outgoing. Some people will be much more talkative and excited when under the influence.

Once the high has worn off, the user will suffer the crash that comes with cocaine withdrawal. The crash comes with irritability and even hostility. Users often become challenging to deal with and want to fight for no reason.

Long-term users tend to become much more isolated and secretive because they are trying to hide their addiction from friends and loved ones. They also tend to start stealing or participating in other illegal activities to pay for their habit.

Is Cocaine Addiction a Mental Health Issue?

Cocaine addiction is a substance use disorder that often occurs in people suffering from mental health issues. Usually, the mental health issue has led the person to abuse cocaine.

What Mental Illnesses Go Hand in Hand with Cocaine Addiction?

Several mental illnesses are prevalent among cocaine users. Adults with untreated ADHD are at increased risk for substance abuse, especially cocaine abuse. Depression and anxiety are also common among drug addicts.

Long-term cocaine users can experience drug-induced psychosis, with temporary paranoia and hallucinations. People who have bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for cocaine dependency.

How Do I Stop My Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug. Once you recognize that you have a problem, you must address it.

Depending on your level of dependency, you may have to consult with a physician to help you. Professional support is essential for most cocaine addicts. Getting help for a cocaine addiction is crucial for a successful recovery.

It would be best to tell the people you spend time with that you are stopping cocaine use to get accountability. Your next step will be to change your habits and avoid places and situations where you usually use cocaine.

Distraction techniques will help you overcome cravings and relapse. You can join a support group for cocaine addicts, and you can draw strength from the stories of others.

The most important thing you can do is find the cause or why you have been using cocaine and address the issue. You might find counseling helpful.

Can Cocaine Addiction Ever Be Cured?

There is no cure, but you can learn management tools that will help you successfully stop using.

What Is the Most Common Treatment For Cocaine Addiction?

There are several treatment options for cocaine addiction. You can find online therapy or spend time at addiction rehab.

Behavior therapy on an outpatient basis or at an addiction treatment center is the most common form of treatment, which uses rewards for not using cocaine. Cognitive behavior therapy teaches the techniques to avoid using in the future.

What Can I Replace Cocaine With?

There are no medications that you can substitute for cocaine. Research is underway to find a medication that will ease the withdrawal from cocaine.

If you are looking for a substitute for cocaine, try a hobby that you are passionate about. You can keep busy with your hobby when thinking about using it. Distractions, addiction support groups, and therapy will help with your recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most people are not knowledgeable about cocaine addiction; here are some frequently asked questions.

What is the leading cause of cocaine addiction?

There is no leading cause for cocaine addiction but rather several factors that lead to addiction. These factors can be genetic, environmental, and physical. Some people have a higher risk factor than others.

Is a cocaine addiction easy to spot?

You can quickly identify the signs of cocaine use in a friend or loved one because there are significant behavioral changes. You will notice drastic mood swings, physical symptoms, and a noticeable difference in their financial situation.

Additional Addictions To Be Aware of

People can become addicted to almost any substance; here are some common addictive substances.

Wrapping Up

Cocaine addiction can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Once you have identified the reasons behind your cocaine use, you can start your road to recovery.

It will not be easy, but there is support for people who want to kick their addiction. You will have to learn distraction techniques so you can successfully manage your cravings.


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