Drug and Alcohol

Cocaine Nose: What Is It?

Did you know cocaine abuse can cause severe physical damage? Cocaine nose is a condition resulting from using cocaine. Learn more about cocaine nose.

Cocaine Nose: Nose Damage from Use

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

April 19, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Cocaine abuse is a severe issue in the United States, and there are signs that the drug's use is increasing. Several causes could be behind this rise in cocaine consumption.

One possible sign is the drug's accessibility, as it can be found in many locations around the nation. The idea that cocaine is a reasonably safe "party drug" is another contributing factor. This misconception is false because cocaine use can have major adverse effects on one's health, such as cardiac issues, seizures, and addiction.

Several steps can be taken to address the problem of cocaine abuse in the United States. One is to increase public education about the dangers of the drug, including its potential for addiction and overdose.

By the Numbers

According to the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.7% of Americans over the age of 12 reported using cocaine the previous year.

What Is Coke Nose?

Coke nose, also known as cocaine nose or cocaine-induced midline destructive lesion, is a condition that occurs as a result of prolonged and excessive use of cocaine. This condition is characterized by damage to the nasal septum, which is the cartilage that separates the two nostrils, and the surrounding tissue.

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is usually snorted or inhaled through the nose. When cocaine is snorted, it is absorbed through the mucous membranes in the nasal passages, causing a temporary increase in energy, alertness, and euphoria.

However, repeated use of cocaine can cause damage to the nasal passages and surrounding structures, leading to a coke nose.

The most common symptoms of coke nose include chronic nasal congestion, frequent nosebleeds, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell. As the condition progresses, it can also cause deformities in the nasal structure, such as a collapse of the nose's bridge, known as saddle nose deformity. In severe cases, a coke nose can cause septum perforation, which is a hole or opening in the cartilage that separates the two nostrils.

The damage caused by coke nose is irreversible and can significantly impact a person's quality of life. It can cause chronic pain, difficulty breathing, and social embarrassment due to physical deformities. The treatment of coke nose often involves surgery to repair the damage caused by the drug, as well as ongoing management of the symptoms. Prevention of coke nose involves avoiding the use of cocaine or seeking help for addiction to the drug.

Why Is Cocaine Snorted?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that produces a euphoric and energetic high. It is a white, crystalline powder derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. Cocaine can be consumed in various ways, including snorting, injecting, smoking, and oral ingestion. However, snorting is one of the most common methods of cocaine use.

Snorting cocaine involves inhaling the powdered drug through the nose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. The effects of snorting cocaine are almost immediate, with the peak high occurring within a few minutes and lasting for approximately 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the amount and purity of the drug.

There are several reasons why people choose to snort cocaine. One of the main reasons is that snorting allows the drug to be absorbed quickly and efficiently into the bloodstream, producing a rapid onset of effects. This is because the nasal tissues have a high density of blood vessels, which allows the drug to be absorbed more quickly than other methods of ingestion.

Another reason why people choose to snort cocaine is that it is a discreet method of use. Unlike injecting or smoking cocaine, snorting cocaine does not produce visible smoke or marks on the body, making it easier to conceal from others.

Also, snorting cocaine can produce a more intense high than other methods. This is because snorting cocaine delivers the drug directly to the brain through the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive system and liver, which can break down some of the drugs before it reaches the brain.

However, there are also several risks and potential side effects associated with snorting cocaine. The most common side effects include nasal irritation, nosebleeds, sinus infections, and damage to the nasal septum. In addition, snorting cocaine can also increase the risk of developing addiction, overdose, and other health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and respiratory failure.

While snorting cocaine may provide a quick and intense high, it is also a risky and potentially dangerous method of drug use. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine addiction or abuse.

How Does Cocaine Damage the Nose?

Cocaine is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant drug commonly used recreationally. It is typically snorted through the nose, which can lead to various harmful effects on the nasal cavity and surrounding structures.

When cocaine is snorted, it is absorbed through the mucous membranes lining the nasal passages. This can lead to several acute effects, such as narrowing of the blood vessels, increased heart rate, and elevated blood pressure. These effects are what give users the feeling of euphoria and increased energy.

Thus, the use of cocaine can cause significant damage to the nose and respiratory structures. In addition, long-term use can lead to chronic nasal and sinus conditions and more severe problems such as septal perforation and nasal collapse.

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What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Nose?

The long-term use of cocaine can cause significant damage to the nose and other respiratory structures. The following are some of how cocaine affects the nose:

Nasal Irritation

The snorting of cocaine can irritate the nasal passages, resulting in inflammation and a runny nose. The drug can also cause burning or itching sensations in the nose.

Cocaine use can cause nosebleeds, which may become chronic over time. This is due to the drug's vasoconstrictive effects, which narrow the blood vessels in the nose and reduce blood flow to the area.


Cocaine use can lead to chronic sinusitis, an inflammation of the sinuses. This condition can cause pain, pressure, and facial and head congestion.

Septal Perforation

Cocaine abuse can cause a hole, or perforation, in the septum, which is the cartilage that separates the two nostrils. This can lead to chronic nosebleeds, nasal discharge, and an altered sense of smell.

Loss of Sense of Smell

Cocaine use can damage the olfactory nerves responsible for the sense of smell. This can result in a reduced ability to smell or even a complete loss of smell.

Nasal Collapse

Prolonged use of cocaine can cause damage to the nasal cartilage, weakening the nasal structure. This can result in saddle nose deformity, where the bridge of the nose collapses.

Chronic Nasal Congestion

Chronic nasal congestion is a common symptom of cocaine nose. The drug causes inflammation and irritation of the nasal passages, leading to chronic congestion and difficulty breathing through the nose.

Runny Nose

Cocaine use can cause excessive mucus production in the nose, leading to a runny nose or post-nasal drip.

Increased Risk of Infections

Cocaine use can increase the risk of respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and tuberculosis.

Healing Cocaine Nose: How Is Cocaine Nose Treated?

"Cocaine nose" is a colloquial term used to describe the damage caused to the nasal passages due to the long-term abuse of cocaine. The constant snorting of cocaine powder can cause various issues in the nasal passages, including irritation, inflammation, erosion, and ulceration of the nasal mucosa. If left untreated, these conditions can lead to a range of long-term and potentially life-threatening complications, including nasal septum perforation, chronic sinusitis, and even loss of smell.

Several treatment options are available for individuals with cocaine noses, depending on the severity of their condition. These can include:

Stop Using Cocaine

The first and most crucial step in treating cocaine nose is to stop using the drug. Continued cocaine use will only worsen the damage to the nasal passages, making it harder for any treatment to be effective.


Over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help alleviate pain and inflammation associated with cocaine nose. Prescription medications like nasal sprays and antibiotics may also be prescribed to address nasal congestion and prevent infection.

Nasal irrigation involves flushing the nasal passages with saline solution to remove debris, mucus, and irritants that may be exacerbating the condition. Nasal irrigation can be performed at home using a Neti pot or nasal spray bottle or in a clinical setting using specialized equipment.


In cases where cocaine nose has caused significant damage to the nasal passages, surgical intervention may be necessary. This can include septoplasty to repair a deviated septum, turbinate reduction to reduce nasal congestion, or nasal reconstruction to repair structural damage.

Supportive Care

Good hygiene practices like keeping the nasal passages clean and moisturized can help prevent further damage to the nasal mucosa. Avoiding allergens and irritants that can exacerbate the condition, such as cigarette smoke or air pollution, can also be helpful.

While these treatments can help manage the symptoms of cocaine nose, they cannot reverse the damage already done. Hence, seeking treatment as soon as possible is crucial to prevent further complications and protect your overall health. Also, quitting cocaine is essential to avoid further damage to your nasal passages and other organs.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a potent stimulant derived from the South American coca plant leaves. In the United States, it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, which indicates that it is highly addictive and may cause severe problems with both mental and physical health.

Cocaine is typically sold in a white powder form and is often cut with other substances, such as baking soda, cornstarch, or talcum powder, to increase profits for drug dealers. It can be snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously. Cocaine can also be processed into a crystalline form known as crack cocaine, which is smoked.

When cocaine is ingested, it causes an increase in levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in the brain. This leads to euphoria, increased energy, and heightened alertness. However, the effects of cocaine are short-lived, typically lasting for only a few minutes to an hour, and can be followed by a "crash" in which the user experiences feelings of depression, fatigue, and irritability.

Cocaine use can have several adverse physical and mental health effects. For instance, it might result in respiratory difficulties like trouble breathing or lung damage from smoking, as well as cardiovascular problems like irregular heart rate and blood pressure. Furthermore, chronic usage has been linked to psychological problems including anxiety, sadness, and even psychosis.

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Do you have more questions about cocaine nose and the other side effects of cocaine abuse? Reach out.

What Are the Signs of Addiction to Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can cause physical and psychological dependence in its users. Cocaine addiction is a serious condition that can negatively affect a person's health, relationships, and overall well-being. The following are some signs of cocaine addiction:

Increased Tolerance

Over time, regular cocaine use can lead to increased tolerance, meaning that a person needs more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. This can indicate addiction as the person has become physically and psychologically dependent on the drug.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can include depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and intense cravings for the drug. If a person experiences withdrawal symptoms when they stop using cocaine, it clearly indicates addiction.

Inability to Stop Using

A person addicted to cocaine may try to quit using the drug but find it difficult or impossible to do so. This can be due to physical dependence on the drug and psychological addiction.

Changes in Behavior

Cocaine addiction can cause changes in a person's behavior, such as becoming more secretive or paranoid, engaging in risky behaviors, or neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home.

Financial Issues

Cocaine addiction can be expensive, and a person may struggle to pay bills or maintain a job due to drug use. They may also borrow money or engage in illegal activities to support their addiction.

Relationship Problems

Cocaine addiction can cause strain on personal relationships, leading to conflicts and breakdowns in communication. People may prioritize drug use over relationships, leading to social isolation.

Health Problems

Cocaine addiction can cause various health problems, including respiratory issues, heart problems, and mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

Don't Risk Cocaine Nose! Get Treated for Cocaine Addiction Today at The Edge Treatment Center

The Edge Treatment Center specializes in treating cocaine abuse and helping patients overcome this condition. We use evidence-based therapies to help people build new lives free from cocaine addiction.

One of the key components of treatment for cocaine nose is stopping cocaine use. At The Edge, we'll help you start by guiding you through the entire addiction treatment process from drug detox to aftercare.

In addition to addressing the physical damage caused by cocaine abuse, we also provide counseling and support services to help patients overcome addiction's psychological and emotional aspects. This includes individual and group therapy, family counseling, and support groups. As a result, patients can overcome their addictions and regain their health and well-being through medical interventions, counseling, and support.

Don't risk a cocaine nose...or worse. Reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more about our effective treatment for cocaine abuse and more!

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