Cocaine Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 12, 2022

Cocaine is an addictive illicit stimulant drug. Abusing cocaine can cause physical and mental health problems. Cocaine drug use is dangerous, but addiction treatment programs can be effective in treating substance abuse.

Cocaine Addiction And Treatment Options

Cocaine is a powerful, illicit stimulant drug that can produce euphoric effects for people who abuse it.

Drug addiction to cocaine can develop quickly, as cocaine impacts the brain’s reward system.

Millions of people in the U.S. use cocaine every year, and many of those people have an addiction to cocaine.

Once a cocaine addiction sets in, the best option is to visit a treatment center for substance use disorders to receive specialized cocaine addiction treatment.

Is Cocaine Physically Or Mentally Addictive?

Cocaine is both physically and mentally addictive. Cocaine dependence can happen more quickly than with many other drugs.

The tell-tale signs of physical dependence on a drug are an increased tolerance to its effects, and the presence of cocaine withdrawal symptoms when a person stops taking the drug.

Cocaine tolerance increases as a person uses more of it, and once someone is addicted, withdrawal symptoms can be intense if they stop taking it.

Mental or psychological addiction refers to the presence of cravings for the drug.

Cocaine abuse can lead to strong psychological addiction, and people who abuse cocaine can become psychologically addicted quickly.

Read more about the addictive properties of cocaine.

Can You Develop A Tolerance To Cocaine?

Cocaine tolerance is likely to increase as a person abuses the drug. The more someone uses cocaine, the more of the drug they will need to feel the same effects.

Tolerance to a drug like cocaine is dangerous, because higher doses of the drug make overdose and other health problems more likely.

Learn more about cocaine tolerance.

Signs Of Cocaine Abuse

If you are worried that a loved one is using cocaine, you should know what signs to look for that may indicate cocaine abuse.

Signs of cocaine abuse may include:

  • restlessness
  • increased energy
  • avoiding family and loved ones
  • eating and/or sleeping less
  • big mood swings and changes in energy levels
  • dilated pupils
  • aggressive behavior
  • sweating
  • avoiding work and other responsibilities
  • financial problems

Learn about the signs of cocaine abuse.

Methods Of Cocaine Abuse

There are many different ways that people abuse cocaine. People might use cocaine in different ways because the effects feel different with various methods of use.

The most common way to use cocaine is to snort the drug.

People may abuse cocaine in a number of ways, such as:

  • shooting cocaine: People may dissolve cocaine in water and inject it. Injecting cocaine puts the drug directly in the bloodstream and leads to the fastest, most intense high.
  • plugging cocaine: This method involves using a liquid cocaine solution to inject rectally with a needleless syringe.
  • snorting cocaine: Snorting puts the drug in the bloodstream faster than ingesting, and the effects are more intense.
  • freebasing cocaine: Freebasing is a form of smoking cocaine that is commonly mistaken to be a ‘safer’ method of use, though there is no safe way to use cocaine.
  • cocaine binging: In order to not experience the harrowing cocaine comedown effects, people may string together cocaine doses back to back, known as a binge.

How To Identify Cocaine

Cocaine can take many forms, and it’s important to know how to identify the drug if you are concerned that a loved one has been abusing it.

What Cocaine Looks Like

Cocaine in America usually looks like a white powder with an appearance similar to that of baking soda or flour.

Another common form of cocaine is crack cocaine. Crack cocaine looks like white, yellow, or brownish chunks or “rocks”. Crack rocks are small and crystalline.

Learn more about what cocaine looks like.

What Cocaine Tastes Like

Cocaine’s taste can vary greatly depending on what form the drug is in, how pure it is, what additives or adulterants are present, and more.

Usually, cocaine has a bitter taste and may actually have a numbing effect on the mouth if ingested.

Remember that tasting cocaine is neither a safe nor an effective way of identifying the drug.

Read about what cocaine tastes like.

What Cocaine Smells Like

Cocaine usually has no smell, although this can change depending on the form of the drug and what additives and adulterants are present.

Learn about what cocaine smells like.

Types Of Cocaine

All cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca plant, a shrub grown mainly in South America. From the coca plant, different chemical processes can produce many different forms of the drug.

Cocaine can come in many different forms and appearances, such as:

  • pink cocaine: Pink cocaine is a synthetic party drug that actually contains no cocaine.
  • crack cocaine: Crack cocaine is a processed form of cocaine that looks like small rocks and is usually smoked to produce a quick, very intense high.
  • synthetic cocaine: Synthetic cocaine is not cocaine. This stimulant drug is also known as bath salts.
  • cocaine hydrochloride: Cocaine hydrochloride is the scientific name for the pure powder form of cocaine.

Street Names For Cocaine

Knowing the street names for cocaine can help you detect whether someone close to you is abusing the drug.

Cocaine has several forms, and each form has its own set of street names.

Street names for powder cocaine include:

  • coke
  • blow
  • dust
  • snow
  • snow white
  • icing
  • yay
  • pump
  • cookies

Street names for crack cocaine include:

  • crack
  • rock
  • black rock
  • hail
  • base
  • nuggets
  • moon rock
  • rock candy
  • ball

Read more about the street names for cocaine.

Effects Of Cocaine Use

Cocaine has many short-term and long-term effects and side effects. People abuse cocaine because it can provide an energetic rush that includes feelings of alertness, well-being, and euphoria.

Other short-term effects of cocaine include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature, nosebleeds, and more.

Long-term effects of cocaine addiction can be devastating. They can include weight loss, loss of smell, persistent runny nose, respiratory infections, cardiovascular problems, and more.

Long-term cocaine abuse can increase the risk of heart attack and certain illnesses.

Learn more about the effects of cocaine abuse.

Cocaine And Polysubstance Abuse

Cocaine is sometimes abused alongside other substances such as alcohol or other drugs. Sometimes people use other stimulants with cocaine.

Other times people use cocaine with “downers” or nervous system suppressants like Xanax or opioids.

Abusing multiple drugs can make complications more likely including major health issues and overdose.

Find out more about cocaine and polysubstance abuse.

Dangers Of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is very hard on the body and mind. Long-term dangers of cocaine addiction can include the following.

Cocaine Psychosis

Cocaine use can trigger or cause symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations (auditory, tactile, or visual), delusions, and extreme paranoia.

Symptoms of cocaine-induced psychosis can resemble those of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In other cases, these mental illnesses can be triggered by cocaine use.

Read about cocaine-induced psychosis.

Cocaine Intoxication

Cocaine can produce many severe short-term effects other than the intended “high” that people use it for.

Symptoms of cocaine intoxication might include high blood pressure, fast heart rate, severe agitation, and sweating.

Learn about cocaine intoxication.

Cocaine Overdose

Taking large amounts of cocaine can lead to an overdose. Cocaine overdoses can include fatal outcomes including heart attacks, stroke, seizures, or breathing problems.

Learn more about cocaine overdose.

Cocaine Withdrawal

When someone has been abusing cocaine and they stop suddenly, they might go through withdrawal.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include strong cravings for the drug, intense mood swings, fatigue, and anxiety.

Learn more about cocaine withdrawal.

How Long Cocaine Stays In The System

Cocaine can stay in the system for varying amounts of time depending on a number of factors.

Generally, younger, healthier people are able to process and detox from drugs faster than people who are older or have health issues.

Different drug tests are able to detect cocaine in the body for varying amounts of time after the last use.

General detection time frames for cocaine are as follows:

  • urine test: up to three days
  • blood test: up to 24 hours
  • hair test: up to 90 days
  • saliva test: one to two days

Read more about cocaine detection times.

Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction

Substance abuse treatment can help people abusing cocaine to get back on the right track. Different treatment plans use different approaches to care.

Cocaine Interventions

The first step to getting someone the help they need might be to hold an intervention. Addressing cocaine use in a compassionate but serious manner may be what they need to get them to seek help.

Learn more about cocaine intervention.

Medical Detox

Detox is often used as a precursor to cocaine treatment. In detox, the psychological and physical symptoms of withdrawal can be managed so that a person can avoid relapse and begin treatment.

Inpatient Rehab Programs

Inpatient rehab programs are common for people battling cocaine abuse. They include elements like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and group counseling.

Outpatient Services

After inpatient care, a person can transition to outpatient treatment as they return to their daily life.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cocaine Addiction

Learn more about cocaine use and addiction by browsing answers to frequently asked questions.

Some people abusing cocaine eat very little or only drink juice for a period of time.

This can be the result of decreased appetite due to drug use, or sometimes it is used as a method to lose weight.

Learn more about the 8 ball and orange juice diet.

The price of crack and cocaine varies widely. In general, powdered cocaine costs between $93 and $163 per gram, while crack costs about $60 per gram.

Learn more about the cost of cocaine and crack cocaine.

There is no scientific evidence that cocaine has any positive effects on the outcomes of COVID-19, though this theory was widely spread during the beginning of the pandemic.

Read about cocaine and COVID-19.

The lethal dose of cocaine is different for every person based on tolerance and many other factors, such as whether other drugs are involved.

Learn about the lethal dose of cocaine.

A cocaine “crash” may include symptoms like lethargy, depression, cravings for more cocaine, and anxiety.

Read more about coming down from cocaine.

Find A Drug Rehab Program For Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is a serious and potentially fatal condition. Contact us today to find yourself or a loved one the help you need to overcome drug abuse.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

  • Was this Helpful?
  • YesNo
Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 12, 2022
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (844) 616-3400