Cocaine Side Effects

Table of Contents


Cocaine is a Schedule II illegal stimulant that is powerfully addictive – 1.4 million U.S. adults were diagnosed with cocaine addiction in 2021.

There are many cocaine use side effects, both short-term and long-term, that make any use of cocaine dangerous. Today’s guide to the effects of cocaine use highlights how cocaine affects the body and mind, details the side effects of using cocaine, and shows you how to connect with cocaine addiction treatment in Southern California.

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Side Effects of Cocaine

Illicit cocaine, also known as coke, often appears as a white, crystalline powder, which may be mixed with various substances to dilute its potency and increase profits. Cocaine can be snorted, injected, or processed into a smokable form known as crack cocaine.

 Cocaine works as a stimulant by increasing levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter) in the brain. This creates large amounts of dopamine in the brain, leading to intense effects and a disturbance in the brain’s reward system. Effects from cocaine include:

  • An intense high
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated mood
  • Rapidly cycling thoughts

 These positive after-effects of cocaine are powerful but fleeting. Negative cocaine side effects include anger, depression, and paranoia.

 The effects of doing cocaine can involve long-term physical and mental health complications. Chronic use of cocaine often leads to the development of dependence, an adaptation of your body to the drug, which can cause withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit using cocaine. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Strong cravings for cocaine

Long-term side effects from coke can include neurological issues like cognitive impairment, memory loss, impaired decision-making, poor focus, lack of impulse control, weak motor functioning, and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, cocaine use can increase the risk of strokes and seizures, especially when tolerance is reduced after a period of abstinence.

 Chronic cocaine use may also cause:

  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

 Other physical effects from cocaine may include cardiovascular disease, GI complications, dental problems, and significant weight loss.

The negative effects of coke use can vary depending on the route of administration:

Recognizing what are the effects of cocaine and seeking professional help promptly can streamline recovery and prevent further health complications triggered as an effect of cocaine.

An image of a woman who has her head on a tree as she feels cocaine side effects

Side Effect List

Cocaine use can cause a range of short-term effects, some of which people may find desirable. These include:

  • Increased energy
  • Talkativeness
  • Reduced need to sleep
  • Diminished appetite
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased alertness

 That said, cocaine use can also provoke short-term physiological and mental changes, such as:

  • Increased blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, sights, and touch
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Volatile or violent behavior

 Significant and potentially fatal medical complications of cocaine use include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Changes to the heart rhythm
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Not every side effect of cocaine is benign. The long-term effects of abusing this illicit stimulant include:

  • Cocaine addiction
  • Damage to the heart or other organs
  • Mental health conditions
  • Increased risk of infectious diseases

Coke Side Effects

Coke is a commonly used nickname for cocaine, a powerful stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant. When people refer to “effects from coke” or “side effects from coke”, they are typically talking about the physical and mental effects of cocaine use.

 Cocaine (Coke) Addiction

Cocaine addiction is a chronic and progressive condition that affects both the mind and body. Stimulant use disorder – the clinical descriptor for cocaine addiction – is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences, and it can trigger severe physical, psychological, and social ramifications.

 Cocaine addiction can develop rapidly, with some people becoming addicted after just a few uses. This is due to the drug’s powerful effects on the brain’s reward system, which can quickly lead to cravings and the desire for more of the drug.

 Over time, cocaine use can lead to changes in brain structure and function, making it increasingly difficult to control drug use. This can result in a range of negative consequences, including financial difficulties, relationship problems, job loss, and legal trouble.

Cocaine addiction is often accompanied by other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. These conditions can exacerbate the effects of cocaine use and make it even harder to quit. When addiction and mental health conditions co-occur, this is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

Recovery from cocaine addiction typically involves a combination of medical treatment, therapy, and ongoing support. The first step in recovery from coke addiction is often detoxification, which involves ridding the body of cocaine and managing withdrawal symptoms. Detox acts as a bridge into ongoing inpatient or outpatient treatment that addresses the underlying causes of addiction and imparts coping skills to help prevent relapse.


Recognizing the signs of cocaine addiction can be difficult, as some people may be adept at concealing their substance use. Nevertheless, identifying the signs of cocaine addiction is beneficial in getting help for someone fighting addiction.

The most common signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Spending excessive time and money obtaining and using cocaine, often at the expense of other important obligations and relationships.
  • Persistent cravings for cocaine and continued use despite negative consequences, such as financial problems, legal issues, or damaged relationships.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using cocaine, such as depression, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Neglecting personal hygiene and physical appearance.
  • Developing a preoccupation with obtaining and using cocaine, leading to social isolation.
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as driving under the influence or unprotected sex.
  • Suffering from health problems related to cocaine use (heart disease, respiratory issues, or kidney damage).


Cocaine addiction is characterized by a range of behavioral and psychological symptoms that are outlined in DSM-5-TR (fifth revised edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). These are the symptoms of cocaine addiction, known informally as coke addiction and clinically described as stimulant use disorder: 

  • Using cocaine in larger amounts or for longer than planned.
  • Being unable to cut down or control cocaine use.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining and using cocaine, as well as recovering from the after-effects of cocaine.
  • Experiencing cravings and urges to use cocaine.
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to cocaine use.
  • Continuing to use cocaine despite use of the drug causing problems in your personal relationships.
  • Giving up important social activities because of cocaine use.
  • Using cocaine in physically hazardous situations.
  • Continuing to use cocaine even though drug use is causing physical or psychological problems.
  • Developing tolerance, meaning that more cocaine is needed to achieve the desired effects.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using cocaine.

If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, it may be time to seek help for cocaine addiction. Our experienced and committed team at California Detox is ready to provide personalized treatment to help you overcome addiction and regain control of your life.

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Get Treatment for Cocaine Addiction 

At California Detox in Laguna Beach, we offer a range of treatment programs to combat cocaine addiction. Our supervised medical detox program provides a smooth pathway to inpatient or outpatient rehab, with access to medications that can help streamline withdrawal and alleviate cocaine cravings.

Our evidence-based treatment programs, including inpatient, outpatient, virtual, and dual diagnosis treatment programs, provide individualized care that combines holistic therapies and evidence-based interventions for a comprehensive approach to cocaine addiction recovery.

 After completing treatment, we provide an aftercare plan that includes relapse prevention techniques to maximize your chances of sustained recovery. For immediate assistance, call our admissions team at 949.694.8305.


Cocaine use can lead to a variety of negative effects, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, addiction, mental health issues such as anxiety and paranoia, and physical health issues such as respiratory problems and heart disease.
Cocaine affects the brain by increasing the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, leading to feelings of euphoria and increased energy. However, it can also cause a range of physical and psychological effects, including heightened alertness, decreased appetite, and insomnia.


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