Signs of Cocaine Addiction

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It can be challenging to identify the signs of cocaine addiction if you suspect that a loved one is abusing this powerful Schedule II controlled substance.

Today’s guide to cocaine addiction signs should increase your awareness and help you to effectively connect your loved one with the professional addiction treatment they need.

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What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine is an illicit and highly addictive stimulant derived from the coca plant found throughout South America.

Cocaine is classified by the DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) as a Schedule II controlled substance. Drugs in this classification have some limited medical utility but also have a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. 

Before we outline some of the most common signs of a cocaine addict, we’ll highlight the diagnostic symptoms of cocaine addiction. 

Cocaine addiction is a non-clinical descriptor for substance use disorder. Among the ten different substance use disorders recognized by DSM-5-TR (the latest update of American Psychiatric Association’s  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), cocaine addiction is classified as stimulant use disorder. 

The symptoms of cocaine addiction delineated in DSM are as follows: 

  1. Do you frequently use more cocaine than planned or use cocaine for longer than intended?
  2. Has tolerance formed so that you need more cocaine to get the same high?
  3. Have you tried and failed to moderate your use of cocaine?
  4. Are you spending a lot of time using cocaine and recovering from the effects?
  5. Have you often used cocaine in potentially dangerous situations?
  6. Have you experienced cravings for cocaine so intense that you found it difficult to focus on anything else?
  7. Do you spend less time doing things you once enjoyed because of your cocaine use?
  8. Have you neglected personal and professional obligations due to your use of cocaine?
  9. Are you continuing to use cocaine even though it is causing or inflaming a physical or mental health condition?
  10. Is your use of cocaine causing problems in your closest relationships?
  11. Do unpleasant withdrawal symptoms present in the absence of cocaine?

A mental health professional will diagnose cocaine addiction according to the number of symptoms present. The presence of two or three symptoms over a one-year period indicate a mild cocaine addiction. If four of five symptoms present, this suggests a mild cocaine addiction. Severe cocaine addictions are diagnosed if six or more symptoms occur during a year. 

How Addictive is Cocaine?

Whether cocaine is sorted, injected, or smoked in the form of crack, the substance can lead to the rapid development of dependence and addiction (stimulant use disorder). 

Chronic cocaine use causes tolerance to form. With the effects of the drug diminished, you’ll need to use more cocaine to achieve the same effects. Alternatively, you will require more frequent doses of cocaine to recreate the euphoric high. 

If you engage with these abusive patterns of cocaine consumption, you will accelerate the growth of physical dependence. If you become dependent on cocaine, you will experience intensely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms in its absence. 

Long-term cocaine abuse leads to functional and structural brain changes, making it more challenging to resist temptation in the form of cocaine cravings. 

In most cases of cocaine addiction, it is the psychological component that is trickiest to unpack. 

Now you are aware of the diagnostic criteria for cocaine addiction, what are the most common signs of addiction to cocaine? 

A woman showing distress and other signs of cocaine addiction

What Are the Signs of Cocaine Addiction?

Every cocaine addiction is unique, but there are nevertheless many common signs that indicate the presence of a stimulant use disorder. 

If you suspect a loved one is abusing cocaine, look out for the following physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms. 

Physical signs of cocaine addiction 

  • Pronounced weight loss
  • Diminished appetite
  • High energy levels
  • Restlessness
  • Persistent nosebleeds
  • Runny nose
  • Dilated pupils
  • Tolerance
  • Blackouts
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • High body temperature
  • Heavy sweating
  • Breathing problems
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Heart attack

Behavioral signs of cocaine addiction 

  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Financial stress
  • Neglecting personal and professional commitments
  • Social isolation
  • Talking excessively
  • Dishonesty regarding whereabouts and activities
  • Prioritizing friends who abuse substances
  • Impulsive and reckless behaviors
  • Inability to control cocaine use
  • Combining other addictive substances with cocaine
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining and using cocaine
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Continued cocaine use despite negative outcomes

Psychological signs of cocaine addiction 

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Impaired decision making
  • Excessive confidence
  • Psychosis

How to Help Someone with a Cocaine Addiction

You should now have a sound awareness of the most obvious signs indicative of cocaine addiction. As soon as you pick up on a cluster of these signs evident in a loved one, you should take the first opportunity to start an ongoing conversation about addiction, treatment, and recovery. 

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) defines cocaine addiction as a chronic and relapsing brain condition. Central to cocaine addiction is compulsive substance use regardless of the consequences. 

Denial is a common by-product of addiction, so be prepared for your loved one to claim that they are in full control of their substance use. They may even outright deny the existence of a problem.

If you are persistent and reinforce your support for your loved one, you can hopefully get them to agree to engage with an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, depending on their needs and the severity of the stimulant use disorder. 

If you cannot persuade your friend or family member to connect with professional addiction treatment, you might consider staging an intervention. An intervention involves a group of family members and friends meeting with the person with an addiction and then inviting that person to connect with pre-arranged cocaine addiction treatment. We can help you with that at California Detox in Southern California.

view from california detox 30 day inpatient rehab

Cocaine Addiction Treatment at California Detox

If you or a loved one require cocaine addiction treatment, we have treatment programs at all levels of intensity here at California Detox as follows: 

  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • Outpatient programs
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote rehab)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • Dual diagnosis (for cocaine addictions with co-occurring mental health disorders)

Although there are no medications approved by the FDA to streamline cocaine withdrawal, our licensed medical detox center will provide you or your loved one with a safe and comfortable environment with emotional and clinical care available when required. 

After a week or so, you will be ready to transition into an inpatient or outpatient program here at California Detox in Orange County. 

All of our treatment programs will offer you a personalized road to recovery, drawing from these pharmacological and behavioral interventions: 

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapies (talk therapies such as CBT and DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Motivational therapies
  • Holistic therapies

When you or your loved one is ready to commit to recovery from cocaine addiction, reach out to admissions by calling 949.390.5377.


Someone addicted to cocaine may start neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school. They may start spending less time doing things they once enjoyed. Physical symptoms of cocaine addiction include nosebleeds, runny nose, weight loss, and organ damage. When cocaine addiction sets in, drug use is compulsive even in the face of increasingly negative outcomes.
Start an open and ongoing dialogue with your loved one about cocaine addiction. Offer to support and help your loved one to engage with evidence-based treatment at an inpatient or outpatient rehab. There is no cure for cocaine addiction and there are no medications approved for detox and withdrawal from stimulants like cocaine. That said, a combination of behavioral interventions, motivational therapies, and psychotherapy can help your loved one to commit to sustained recovery.


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