Drug and Alcohol

Cocaine Use: Know the Signs of Cocaine Use & Withdrawal

Learn the Signs of Cocaine Use

Cocaine use can rapidly turn into drug addiction. There are multiple dangers to cocaine use. Learn the signs and symptoms of cocaine use in our blog.

By the Numbers:

The 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health stated that among people aged 12 or older, nearly 4.8 million people had reported using cocaine in the past 12 months, and 2022 Monitoring the Future Survey estimated 0.5% of 8th  graders in the country and 1.5% of 12th graders had used cocaine in the last year!

Cocaine use is a serious healthcare problem in the United States, where millions of people use it every year. Worse, many get addicted to cocaine, often needing urgent medical care or suffering from lifelong addiction and problems due to drug use.

The problem of cocaine use is a deep one. It has been linked to several health problems, including heart attacks, strokes, and other conditions associated with either cocaine addiction or overdose. Due to cocaine use, society also faces a threat related to crime and violence, making it a severe threat to the state of public health and safety. Because of this, cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs to use.

It is important to seek the type of drug rehab care that can help your loved one defeat cocaine addiction along with understanding a bit more about cocaine use patterns and symptoms. 

Cocaine Use: Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine, despite the negative consequences of its use, has a glamorous cachet. Often depicted in movies and other forms of media as a highly traded substance, cocaine is an expensive illegal drug. Cocaine is also among the many illicit drugs that are likely to create a faster, more severe form of drug addiction.

Cocaine addiction can have long-term and even life-threatening side effects. Cocaine is also among the more commonly understood illegal street drugs. Out in the street, it is referred to by different names. This includes crack, blow, and coke. This recreational drug is created by purifying an extract that is derived from the leaves of the coca bush.

The two main types of cocaine that are seen on the streets are made in slightly different ways. One is powdered cocaine, which is often snorted. A fine, flaky powder, it is also referred to as coke or blow. The finely powdered form of cocaine dissolves very easily in water. This also makes it easier to be injected.

Crack cocaine is the other, more commonly available form of cocaine. Some users call it rock cocaine. Compared to the snorted type of cocaine, this is a slightly different variant of cocaine. It is made through a chemical process that turns cocaine into a blend that can be easily smoked.

The type of high associated with cocaine varies across the type of cocaine consumed, the manner of consuming it, and the number of times it is used over a span of time, Typically, cocaine's more pronounced immediate effects last from anything between 30 minutes and two hours, but it is difficult to quote the average duration of a cocaine high.

There's one other very important thing to keep in mind about cocaine use: it can be fatal. Cocaine's effects put tremendous stress on the body, especially when it's mixed with other drugs like alcohol and/or heroin (a combination called a "speedball"). Cocaine use has caused a number of high-profile overdose deaths, and cocaine overdose can rapidly turn fatal.


Cocaine Use: The Patterns of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine creates a high by affecting the parts of the brain that reward us, creating the feeling of elation. This creates a pleasurable high by stimulating the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which causes the user returns to use more, trying to experience the same high again. When people use cocaine repeatedly, they tend to build up a tolerance, which means they need more of the same drug to get the same effects.

This is what leads to an addiction and once a cocaine addiction is established, it usually needs professional drug rehab to break the addiction.

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Cocaine Use: How Quickly Can You Get Addicted to Cocaine?

Cocaine is never safe to consume, no matter how little is used or whether it is used occasionally. Partially due to its rapid onset, cocaine use comes with a serious chance of developing an addiction much quicker than some other drugs, such as prescription medications or alcohol.

When you inject cocaine, also called popping or shooting, the high does not take much time to kick in. When snorted through the nasal tissues, cocaine is quickly taken up along the nasal passages, giving an almost instant high. Once coke starts affecting the functions of the brain, it tends to impair the normal functions of the brain’s chemicals and neurotransmitters. The normal function of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are affected, creating a chemical buildup that makes the cocaine user feel great.

This is why even when used as a party drug, cocaine use comes with a big risk of getting addicted.

Cocaine Use Signs & Symptoms

Depending on how long someone has been addicted to cocaine, the signs of cocaine use and addiction can surface with a lot of differences across different individuals. The age and overall physical status of the person using cocaine and the type of cocaine used also make a difference.

However, there are some common symptoms of cocaine use that you should know about, such as:

  • Lack of attention at school or even when talking in normal social interactions

  • Bouts of a sudden increase in energy 

  • Too many variations in overall alertness levels

  • A sudden spike in asking for more money

  • Reduced sense of smell

  • Difficulties in swallowing

  • Developing a runny nose 

  • Feeling depressed or anxious

  • Euphoria

  • Unexplained mood swings

  • Often turning violent 

  • Finding different types of drug paraphernalia

  • Increased heart rate and hypertension

  • Signs of damage to the nasal passages

  • Dilation of the pupils

  • Hoarseness of the voice

  • Delusions or hallucinations and paranoia

  • Withdrawing from loved ones 

  • Extreme restlessness

  • Bizarre reactions to normal situations

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Cocaine Use: Additional Side Effects

Cocaine use side effects can turn more serious, bringing about many physical and psychological problems that often need medical care. Sometimes, the risk is serious enough to seek an ER visit. Such cocaine use symptoms include:

  • Panic attacks

  • Heart attacks - irregular heartbeats

  • Ulcers of the mouth and lips

  • Permanently damaging the lungs

  • Strokes & Seizures that could even lead to death

  • Becoming more susceptible to Hepatitis C 

  • Permanently impacting the normal functioning of the nasal cavities

  • Digestive issues due to ulcers

Understanding Cocaine Withdrawal: Signs & Symptoms

When someone uses cocaine regularly for a long time, they are more likely to become physically and mentally dependent on the drug. If someone stops taking cocaine suddenly, like when attempting to go cold turkey when trying to kick the habit, the withdrawal symptoms can be extreme. This is also seen when people try drug detox at home.

A certain level of cocaine withdrawal and the associated symptoms are inevitable. But at a professional drug detox center, withdrawal symptoms are much easier to handle. The way in which withdrawal symptoms are handled is the difference between cocaine withdrawal being something to be dealt with during treatment, or becoming potentially life-threatening and a barrier to further treatment.

Withdrawal symptoms associated with someone trying to break away from cocaine addiction can include all or any of the following:

  • Unexplained exhaustion and physical fatigue

  • Feeling the chills

  • Feeling melancholy without a reason

  • Uncontrollable craving for certain foods

  • Body aches and shivering

  • Tremors in the hands or foot

  • Challenges in concentration – inability to keep up the work at the office, school

  • Depression along with varying levels of anxiety

Cocaine Withdrawal: A Timeline

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline
Why Does Cocaine Withdrawal Happen?
How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?
Cocaine Withdrawal: The Crash
Cocaine Withdrawal: Acute Withdrawal
Cocaine Withdrawal: Recovery
Dangers of Cocaine Withdrawal
Get Cocaine Addiction Treatment Today
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Cocaine Use: 5 Things to Expect During Recovery From Cocaine Addiction

Recovery from cocaine use is possible. Many people have been able to leave cocaine use and addiction behind after attending The Edge Treatment Center. However, while a professional recovery center makes a withdrawal from cocaine easier, it still has its challenges.

Here are five things to keep in mind while withdrawing from cocaine use:

#1. Recovery From Cocaine Use Does Not Happen Overnight

Most cocaine withdrawal symptoms are expected, and rehab specialists know how to manage them. However, home drug detox attempts can be often ignorant, not realizing that the withdrawal symptoms will not go away within a few days. It can take up to weeks and sometimes, withdrawal medications are needed for almost a month to navigate this critical part of cocaine addiction treatment.

#2. Heart Trouble May Be a Concern

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are not limited to expected problems like vomiting or feeling nauseous. The person could suffer from uncontrolled shaking that might not reveal that there is an underlying chance of developing serious heart troubles. This is why outpatient and inpatient treatment programs insist on maintaining medical supervision to manage cocaine withdrawal.

#3. Feeling Depressed Is Common

Getting off cocaine is a difficult psychological process also because the person in withdrawal is more likely to feel the blues. Depression alone can be severe, including anxiety and fatigue. The trouble in concentrating can render the person unable to be productive at work or school. There can be increased appetite and extended periods of sleep during the day. Depression could be severe enough to create suicidal thoughts. Drug rehab will help people through these recovery challenges.

#4. Drug Cravings Can Hit Hard

Soon after the person stops using cocaine, the user almost immediately feels a crash that can be very hard to manage. During this time, it can be hard to fight the urge to start using cocaine again, and for someone attempting a cocaine withdrawal at home, the situation can get out of hand. This needs medical supervision, often needing medications.

#5. Being in Pain Is Part of the Process

The physical signs of cocaine withdrawal include feeling pain throughout the day when doing the most basic tasks. The symptoms can last for days or weeks. The person might need some painkillers to get through this period. The pain itself could be a reason to quit rehab or relapse. Pain management needs comprehensive monitoring upfront.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in My System?

When you consume cocaine, your body quickly starts to break it down into substances called metabolites, which stay in your body for some time. The same metabolites are detected in drug tests.

  • Cocaine can be detected in the blood as a metabolite for up to 2 days

  • Cocaine can be detected in your urine as a metabolite for up to 4 days 

  • Cocaine can be detected as a physical sample in the hair for up to 90 days 

  • Cocaine can be detected in the saliva as a metabolite for up to 2 days 

If you are wondering about these statistics being the same for everyone who is attempting to beat cocaine addiction, please note that there can be some differences based upon:

  • How much cocaine was consumed the last time a person used the drug?

  • Were you drinking at the time of consuming cocaine?

  • What are the person’s weight and metabolism like?

  • How frequently has the drug been taken recently?

  • How was cocaine consumed – snorted, injected, or dabbed?

  • Does every cocaine addiction need professional help?

Even though cocaine withdrawal tends to vary across every person, you should know it's always easier to get through at a professional drug rehab or drug detox center. Never try detoxing from cocaine at home. Home drug detox kits have a poor record of succeeding.

Medical detox programs provide more close supervision, which can keep people from going back to using cocaine again. Also, medications and the use of medically approved treatments at a drug rehab center help to manage cocaine withdrawal symptoms, making it less likely that the person will use cocaine again.

More help is available during inpatient drug rehab or outpatient drug rehab. These facilities help people continue to avoid cocaine use through therapy, group therapy, and other forms of addictive treatment.

Although recovery from cocaine use isn't easy, it's possible.

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Cocaine Use Is Treatable. The Edge Treatment Center Will Help You

The Edge Treatment Center presents the latest in drug addiction treatment standards, thanks to its experienced staff and high-quality care. Clinical professionals and support staff help people understand, fight, and overcome their addiction, paving the way for a drug-free life. We'll help you find a drug detox center where you can detox safely from cocaine use, and our long-term outpatient drug rehab will help you leave cocaine use behind.

Don't risk a cocaine overdose! Contact The Edge Treatment Center today.

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We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

February 22, 2023