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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the world. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction.

Cocaine Addiction on the Rise

According to a study, deaths due to drug overdose have increased more than three times since 1960. Another study shows that cocaine is abused by up to 10% of the global population, of which adults take up 2%.1

These statistics point toward the singular fact that cocaine addiction is on the rise (particularly among children and teenagers), and it is likely to result in even more deaths globally. The question to be asked however, in a bid to curb this alarming increase, is what exactly is cocaine addiction, and why is cocaine abuse so common?

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What is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine addiction can be defined as a compulsive or chronic use and abuse of cocaine to the point where it has become a habit, irrespective of any accompanying adverse effects.2 Cocaine, also known as coke, crack, or blow, is a stimulant drug obtained from the leaves of the South American Coca plant.3 It is usually in the form of a white, crystalline powder.4

It is important to note that cocaine addiction can be both physical (whereby your body craves the effects of the drug) and mental (where your psychological functioning becomes dependent on the presence of the drug).

Cocaine Addiction

Is Cocaine Addictive?

It is a somewhat popular belief that cocaine is not addictive or as addictive as other substances of abuse; however, this isn’t true.

According to a national survey carried out in 2018 on Drug Use and Health, around 5.5 million Americans ages 12 and above will likely have taken part in cocaine use in the previous year and numbers are expected to have risen since then.5 This alone indicates just how addictive cocaine is.

Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances in the world, with some studies ranking it among the top five most addictive substances.6

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Like every addiction, early detection can make a difference in successfully treating addiction to cocaine. Some characteristic signs of cocaine abuse help serve as early pointers toward detecting cocaine dependence. These signs include:

  • Increased agitation
  • Effusive enthusiasm
  • Disinhibition
  • Increased movement (E.g., hyperactivity)
  • Signs of involuntary movements (E.g., muscle tics)
  • Changes in concentration and focus

Stages of Cocaine Addiction

Addiction to cocaine, however fast it may occur, does not just happen all at once. Rather, it occurs in stages or steps.

Although there can be some variation in the stated stages of addiction to cocaine depending on the source, there are three stages common to all. These stages are the core essentials of how cocaine use disorder occurs. They include:

  • Tolerance: In this stage, an individual starts by taking cocaine, often out of curiosity. As a result of a desire to repeatedly experience the euphoric effects of cocaine, use of the drug continues as a tolerance develops. Tolerance is when the individual needs to take larger amounts of cocaine to feel effects similar to those they felt in the early periods of cocaine use. Quitting cocaine is easier at this stage.
  • Craving: This stage is characterized by cocaine cravings whereby the individual begins to spend lots of time thinking about little else beyond the next cocaine “high.” Dependence still has not yet occurred at this point, but the person is close. At this stage, some of the negative effects of cocaine, such as its effects on relationships, begin to develop.
  • Dependence: At this stage, the cocaine is in full control such that the individual is completely consumed by the need to get and use cocaine, irrespective of the adverse effects of cocaine that might accompany use. Cocaine’s health effects are very pronounced in this stage.

Why Is Cocaine Addictive?

The major culprit of cocaine addiction is repeated use. When cocaine is taken, it causes the brain’s receptors to release abnormally large amounts of euphoric or “feel-good” chemicals. This results in the brain adjusting physically and chemically to re-establish a balance.7

This adjustment and continued cocaine use result in a reduction in the body’s ability to produce these chemicals naturally; instead, it begins to rely on the presence of cocaine in the brain for production. It also results in tolerance, leading to the individual taking even more and larger amounts of cocaine resulting in absolute dependence on the drug. At this point, an attempt to cut back on cocaine consumption levels is met with cocaine’s side effects such as severe withdrawal health effects.7

Half-Life of Cocaine

The duration of cocaine’s effects on the body depends on several factors, including the route of administration, body physiology, and so on. Generally, however, cocaine stays in the body and produces euphoric effects for up to 30 minutes.8

cocaine addiction

Risk Factors of Cocaine Addiction

It might be somewhat difficult to identify the causes of cocaine addiction precisely. Nevertheless, some factors predispose an individual to cocaine abuse, such as:

  • Environmental Factors: These include factors like exposure or access to cocaine, the presence or absence of support structures, and so on.
  • Genetic Factors: People with a family history of addiction are more likely to get addicted to cocaine than those without a family history of addiction.
  • Personal Factors: These include stress levels, depression, other circumstances or mental health concerns.

What are the Signs of Cocaine Overdose?

In addition to severe health effects, cocaine dangers also extend to overdose. Fast and effective treatment will increase the chances of surviving an overdose. Signs of a cocaine overdose include:

  • An elevated heart rate or irregular heart rhythm
  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attacks
  • Seizures

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine’s side effects also include withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to very severe. Some cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Unpleasant dreams
  • Delayed thinking

Get Help for Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Boardwalk Recovery

If you’re searching for effective treatment for cocaine addiction, Boardwalk Recovery is the perfect place for you. Treatments for cocaine addiction in Boardwalk Recovery involve the use of evidence-based treatment by certified professionals and a supportive environment that helps to ensure you can attain cocaine addiction recovery and sobriety.9
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