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Cocaine Addiction Warning Signs

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant that can cause negative and serious health effects if abused. Learning the warning signs of cocaine abuse and addiction is vital to avoiding life-threatening and permanent damage. Identify the symptoms and warning signs of cocaine addiction to help yourself or someone you love get treatment before it’s too late.

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The Top 6 Warning Signs & Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Identifying the signs of cocaine abuse can be challenging if you don’t know what to look for. While not all cocaine addicts will meet each of these warning signs, they can serve as a guideline for signs of cocaine use to look for in yourself or a loved one.

Changes in Behavior

Because cocaine is a stimulant, it can cause symptoms of hyperactivity and excitement when used. Excitement or being “hyper” is not inherently bad and can occur in other health conditions. However, cocaine’s stimulating effect can enhance more dangerous characteristics.

For example, some cocaine users may experience unprovoked outbursts of aggression or anger. Others may engage in reckless, risky, or dangerous behaviors due to the euphoria cocaine use may cause. Cocaine users can feel on top of the world or like they are untouchable, no matter the consequences.

Other common changes in behavior due to cocaine use include:

  • Rapid speech patterns
  • Being extremely talkative
  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Unrealistic or uncharacteristic boosts in confidence
  • Social isolation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Loss of interest in other activities that once brought joy
  • Sudden changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Becoming more secretive or evasive
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Changes in Physical Appearance

As cocaine users progress further into addiction, their appearance may begin to change. Not only are there key physical symptoms you may observe, but addicts may begin to neglect their own appearance as cocaine use begins to take over.

Addicts may stop bathing, brushing their teeth, washing their faces, and cleaning their clothes, causing an unkempt and potentially unpleasant appearance. Poor hygiene, combined with the common symptoms of cocaine use, can cause an addict’s appearance to change dramatically.

Common physical signs of cocaine abuse include:

  • Runny nose
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweaty and/or clammy skin
  • Muscle twitching
  • Nosebleeds
  • Deterioration of nose cartilage
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • White powder residue around the mouth and nose due to snorting cocaine
  • Burn marks on the lips and hands due to smoking cocaine
  • Needle marks from injecting cocaine

Lying About or Hiding Evidence of Cocaine Abuse

Concealing drug use is one of the most common warning signs of addiction, and cocaine addiction is no different. Cocaine addicts will typically lie about their cocaine use and how much they spent obtaining the drug.

Hiding receipts, credit card statements, money transfer app data, or using only cash are very common practices for cocaine users. Often, addicts will go to great lengths to hide their cocaine use, as well as the tools needed to take cocaine.

Common tools used to abuse cocaine include:

  • Spoons
  • Straws
  • Razor blades
  • Mirrors
  • Expired or unused credit or gift cards
  • Plastic baggies

Engaging in Risky Behaviors to Obtain Cocaine

The euphoric effects of cocaine can cause cocaine addicts to engage in activities they wouldn’t normally do to obtain cocaine.

These behaviors may start small, like stealing small amounts of money from friends or family members, but can slowly balloon into more serious behaviors.

As the urge to use cocaine becomes more difficult to ignore, addicts may choose to rob businesses, steal vehicles, sell drugs, or engage in violence.

It is not uncommon for cocaine addicts to be in poor financial situations due to their addiction, leading them to desperate and sometimes criminal solutions.

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Struggling to Quit Due to Withdrawal Symptoms

It is not uncommon for cocaine addicts to have issues quitting, even when they are ready to quit abusing cocaine. Over time, cocaine users may develop a physical dependence on the drug, and their bodies may struggle to function normally without the drug.

Once the body is dependent on the drug, cocaine addicts typically experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop.

These withdrawal symptoms can range from inconvenient to incredibly unpleasant, making it more likely for the addict to relapse while trying to quit cocaine.

Common cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense cravings for cocaine
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Sleep issues such as insomnia and nightmares
  • Struggles with focusing
  • Extreme tiredness, regardless of the amount of sleep
  • Being unable to experience pleasure
  • Increased appetite
  • Nerve pain and muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Struggles with basic motor functions like walking or talking
  • Psychosis (i.e., mental disconnect from reality)
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Declining Mental Health

Cocaine use can not only worsen existing mental health disorders but also cause an overall worsening of behavioral health in people who do not have existing mental illnesses. Drug abuse with cocaine can lead addicts to develop anxiety, depression, and mood irregularity.

For individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions, they often notice symptoms getting more intense or frequent. In addition, many mental illnesses have risk factors for developing addiction.

Common mental health conditions found alongside cocaine addiction include:

What Are Some Common Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse?

Cocaine abuse can have dangerous and even permanent effects on the body and mind. Because these effects can be life-threatening, it’s vital that cocaine addicts receive the addiction treatment they need before their health situation worsens.

Common side effects of cocaine abuse include:

  • Intense feelings of euphoria
  • Increase in energy levels
  • Physical dependence on cocaine
  • Withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit
  • High blood pressure due to blood vessel constriction
  • High body temperature
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Chest pain
  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Psychosis, hallucinations, and delusions
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased risk of heart attack or stroke
  • Increased risk of bloodborne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C
  • Increased risk of cocaine overdose
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What Should I Do If Cocaine Abuse Becomes an Addiction?

If you suspect that you or a loved one is developing a cocaine addiction, there are a few things you can do. For loved ones, you can begin by talking to them about their substance abuse or may consider arranging an intervention to encourage them to seek treatment.

If you’re concerned that you may have a cocaine addiction, talk to your doctor or an addiction specialist about your symptoms. From there, you can determine what treatment center or plan best suits your situation.

Seeking Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction treatment can vary depending on the severity of the addiction. Not all addicts will require inpatient cocaine rehab programs, but many benefit from them.

Some addicts do well with just therapy and support groups. An addiction specialist can help you choose what best fits your needs.

Common treatments for cocaine addiction include:

  • Medical Detoxication: Medical detox provides medical supervision and treatments that reduce cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Medical allows patients to safely and comfortably stop abusing cocaine with lower rates of relapse.
  • Inpatient Programs: While uncommon, some cocaine addicts require residential stays for their own safety. Programs can vary from a few weeks to a few months, including one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and skill-building assistance.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP): IOPs typically require a certain amount of hours spent at the treatment center per week. These programs include the same therapies as inpatient programs, with the main difference being that patients can continue attending work and school.
  • Therapy: Therapy is the cornerstone of cocaine addiction treatment. While there are a few different types of therapy, many of them focus on helping the patient determine and address the behaviors and thought patterns that led to drug addiction in the first place.
  • Support/Self-Help Groups: Support and self-help groups focus on providing peer support through accountability and surrendering to a higher power, as in 12-step programs.

Get Help for Cocaine Addiction

If you suspect abuse of cocaine is occurring with yourself or someone you care about, now is the time to seek professional treatment. Don’t wait until the cocaine addiction gets worse—the sooner an addict enters into treatment, the more likely they are to avoid the dangerous effects of cocaine addiction.

Start by talking to your doctor or a healthcare professional who specializes in substance use disorder with cocaine. You can also try SAMHSA’s treatment locator or call the helpline at 1-800-662-4357 (HELP) to help you find treatment options in your area that meet your needs.

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FAQs About Cocaine Addiction Warning Signs

What are the most common symptoms of cocaine addiction?

The most common symptoms of cocaine addiction include:

  • Runny nose
  • High blood pressure and heart rate
  • White powder around their nose and mouth
  • Needle marks from injecting cocaine
  • High energy levels and excitement
  • Rapid speech patterns
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Intense cravings for cocaine
  • Dilated pupils
  • Poor hygiene

What do I do if I think my loved one is abusing cocaine?

If you think a loved one is abusing cocaine, you can start by having an honest conversation with them and voicing your concern for their well-being. Another option is to stage an intervention by collaborating with fellow friends and family or hiring a professional interventionist.

The goal of the intervention should be for the addict to seek treatment, sometimes with consequences set in place if they refuse the treatment. Not all cocaine addicts will require entire interventions. Sometimes, a conversation alone can help encourage an addict to seek help.

Are there warning signs of cocaine abuse?

Common warning signs of cocaine abuse include:

  • Abrupt changes in mood or behavior
  • Legal or criminal trouble due to risky behaviors
  • Obsessing over the next use of cocaine
  • Lying about or hiding evidence of cocaine abuse
  • Having a hard time quitting due to withdrawal symptoms
  • Mental health conditions worsening

What are some behavioral warning signs of cocaine addiction?

Common behavioral warning signs of cocaine addiction may include hyperactivity, being secretive about drug use, explosions of anger or aggression, worsening depression and anxiety, and losing interest in beloved hobbies or activities.

What are some physical warning signs of cocaine addiction?

Common physical warning signs of cocaine addiction include nosebleeds, unexplained weight loss, burns on lips and hands, dilated pupils, clammy skin, and muscle twitching.

Some cocaine addicts may begin to neglect their hygiene and fail to bathe, brush their teeth, wash their faces, and clean their clothing.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Colliver, J. D., & Kopstein, A. N. (2021). Trends In Cocaine Abuse Reflected In Emergency Room Episodes Reported To Dawn Drug Abuse Warning Network. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2022, October). 2022 Drug Fact Sheet.pdf
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020a, June 11). How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated? National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020b, June 11). How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated? National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022, May 2). What Is Cocaine? National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2024, January 24). Cocaine. MedlinePlus.

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