Cocaine Addiction Causes, Symptoms & Signs

Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital offers high-quality services and support for adolescents, adults, and senior adults who are struggling with cocaine addiction. Located in Chattanooga, TN, Erlanger is a leading provider of cocaine addiction treatment.

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Learn about cocaine addiction

Cocaine is a highly addictive and dangerous drug. Adolescents and adults who use cocaine put themselves at risk for considerable harm, including the development of cocaine addiction. Cocaine abuse and addiction are prevalent problems throughout the United States. Cocaine causes people to experience a powerful, but temporary, boost in energy, mood, and motivation. The effects of cocaine are short-lived, so people feel compelled to use this drug over and over again in order to maintain the pleasurable sensation it provides and avoid the physical and emotional crash that occurs when these effects wear off. Thus, one-time cocaine use can quickly turn into a recurring behavior, which can lead to addiction.

Thankfully, there is treatment for cocaine addiction. When you get the right type and level of care, you can overcome the urge to use cocaine. With proper professional help, you can successfully achieve long-term recovery from cocaine addiction.


Statistics about cocaine addiction

The following statistics about cocaine abuse and addiction are from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for cocaine addiction

A person’s risk for abusing and becoming addicted to cocaine can be influenced by a multitude of factors, including the following:

  • Having a family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Having a close family member with a mental illness
  • Prenatal exposure to cocaine
  • Personally having had a past struggle with addiction or mental illness
  • Being impulsive
  • Associating with others who use cocaine

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of cocaine addiction

A person who struggles with cocaine abuse and addiction will experience a variety of signs and symptoms. Cocaine addiction can impact people in different ways. Thus, two people may develop different symptoms. However, in general, the following are among the more common signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Showing uncharacteristic aggression, energy, or recklessness
  • Talking rapidly
  • Social withdrawal
  • Attempting to borrow or steal money
  • Losing interest in activities that once brought joy

Physical symptoms:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Nosebleeds
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite leading to weight loss
  • Sharp changes in energy level

Mental symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations


Effects of cocaine addiction

Untreated cocaine addiction can have a devastating impact on your life. The following are among the potential negative effects that can occur if you struggle with cocaine addiction but do not seek appropriate treatment:

  • Liver and kidney damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Strained or ruined relationships
  • Poor performance at work or in school
  • Job loss
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Social isolation
  • Onset or worsening of mental health disorders
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideation

Please note that the effects listed above are not unavoidable. When you enter an effective treatment program for cocaine addiction, you reduce your risk for experiencing these outcomes. While in treatment for cocaine addiction, you can also begin to heal from past harm that you’ve experienced. When you choose to get help, you take an important step toward a much healthier and more hopeful future.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have cocaine addiction

If you struggle with cocaine addiction, you may also be at increased risk for the following co-occurring mental health conditions:

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

Effects of Cocaine Withdrawal & Overdose

Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal and the potential impact of cocaine overdose

Effects of withdrawal: When you become addicted to cocaine, and then try to end your cocaine use, you can experience considerable physical and emotional distress. The following are common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal:

  • Intense cravings for cocaine
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Intense nightmares
  • Agitation
  • Depression

Effects of overdose: Cocaine overdose can be extremely dangerous and possibly fatal. If an individual has been using cocaine and is displaying any of the following effects, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Psychosis

Marks of Quality Care
  • Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
  • The Jason Foundation