Causes & Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Since 1957, Azure Acres Treatment Center has given hope to individuals struggling with cocaine addiction and its lasting effects. Azure Acres provides residents high-quality alcohol and drug abuse treatment near Santa Rosa, California.

Understanding Cocaine

Learn about cocaine and substance abuse

Cocaine is a highly potent and exceptionally strong stimulant that is commonly abused for recreational purposes. Cocaine is known for its ability to create intense feelings of power, invincibility, and euphoria. It can also increase one’s senses, perception, and self-esteem, all while providing a sense of grandiosity. Cocaine can be smoked, injected, or snorted; however the high that is produced is very short, rarely lasting longer than 30 minutes. Due to the intensity of the sensations that result from cocaine use, plus the short period of time that the high lasts, many users feel compelled to continue to use the drug multiple times in order to re-experience the desired high. As an individual increases his or her dosage, changes happen within his or her brain and that leads to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Sadly, once an addiction to cocaine has developed, it can be tremendously challenging for individuals to defeat it.

However, through the proper treatment program, individuals can end their addiction to cocaine and regain a healthier and more productive life.


Cocaine addiction statistics

For those adults who are 18 years and older, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that roughly 0.3% battle with cocaine use disorder. The National Drug Control Policy estimates that 3.6 million people use cocaine regularly within the country.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for cocaine addiction

There are a number of causes and risk factors associated with an individual’s likelihood of developing a cocaine addiction or cocaine use disorder. These can include the following:

Environmental: The APA reports that there are many ways in which an individual’s environment can affect his or her vulnerability to develop cocaine use disorder. These factors can include prenatal exposure to cocaine, having parents who abuse cocaine, living within an unstable home, and being witness to community violence.

Risk Factors: Not only are there environmental factors that can play into an individual’s likelihood of developing a cocaine use disorder, but there are many more, including:

  • Suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or antisocial personality disorder
  • Having a history of childhood conduct disorder
  • Ease of access with which one can obtain cocaine
  • Possessing an impulsive personality or other such personality traits
  • Being surrounded by people who abuse cocaine or other types of drugs

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction

The signs and symptoms that an individual might display when abusing cocaine can vary from individual to individual, however can include the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Abusing cocaine in increasingly larger amounts or over longer periods of time than was originally intended
  • Participating in dangerous or high-risk activities in order to obtain cocaine
  • Rapid speech
  • Hypervigilance
  • Acting differently in social settings than is normal for the person
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at work
  • Continuing to abuse cocaine despite having the desire to quit
  • Abusing cocaine in increasingly larger amounts or over longer periods of time that was originally intended
  • Engaging in repetitive movements
  • Acting differently in social settings than is normal for the person
  • Jumping from topic to topic while in conversation

Physical symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased bodily temperature
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscular weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Elevated or lowered blood pressure

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Experiencing intense cravings for cocaine
  • Impaired judgment
  • Confusion

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Lacking emotional reactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Euphoria
  • Experiencing episodes of unwarranted anger


Effects of cocaine addiction

When individuals keep abusing a substance like cocaine, they can easily place themselves in harm’s way from a physical and psychological standpoint. All areas of an individual’s life can be impacted in some way, shape, or form when cocaine abuse is allowed to continue. Some of the ways in which cocaine can negatively affect individuals can include the following:

  • Failing to attend to one’s occupational responsibilities, potentially resulting in job loss
  • Financial turmoil
  • Familial conflict
  • Loss of child custody
  • Interaction with law enforcement
  • Marital strife or divorce
  • Loss of one’s sense of smell
  • Malnutrition
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Damage one’s liver, kidneys, and/or lungs
  • Damage to the cardiovascular system

Co-Occurring Disorders

Cocaine addiction and co-occurring disorders

Unfortunately, individuals who grapple with cocaine use disorder are also at increased risk for struggling with the following co-occurring mental health disorders:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Antisocial personality disorder
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Conduct disorder
  • Gambling disorder
  • Other substance use disorders

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of cocaine withdrawal and overdose

Effects of cocaine withdrawal: When an individual has been abusing cocaine and then stops doing so suddenly, he or she will go through a period of withdrawal. The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal will be uncomfortable and can occur within a mere few hours after one’s last use. The following are among the more common cocaine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Disturbed occupational function
  • Extremely strong cravings for the drug
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams
  • Disturbed social functioning
  • Dysphoric mood

Effects of Cocaine Overdose: When individuals struggle with cocaine abuse, they are putting themselves at risk for an overdose. An overdose will happen when an individual consumes more of a substance than his or her body is able to process. Since cocaine is highly potent and can quickly cross the blood-brain barrier, an individual can easily consume more cocaine than he or she can handle without knowing it. If someone demonstrates the following symptoms after ingesting cocaine, he or she may be in need of immediate medical attention:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Cramping
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pains
  • Excessive sweating
  • Stroke
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Hypertension
  • Irregular breathing
  • Seizures
  • Panicked feelings

Take a free online Assessment

An assessment is an important first step toward treatment of and recovery from addiction.

Azure Acres is the best place to get sober. I am so thankful to all of the amazing staff that helped me break free from my cocaine addiction and am now about celebrate my third year of sobriety.

– Former Patient