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Cocaine addiction symptoms and signs of cocaine addiction are similar to other substances, particularly stimulants. Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant with potent effects and is highly addictive. Treatment options are available for cocaine addiction, and they tend to be effective.

How Does Cocaine Affect People?

Cocaine is a schedule II drug in the U.S., meaning it has high abuse potential.

  • The effects appear almost immediately when someone uses the stimulant but don’t last long. The effects usually disappear within an hour, and often after just a few minutes.
  • Someone taking cocaine will often feel energetic, alert, and euphoric.
  •  They may also be very sensitive to stimuli, including sight, sound, and touch. 
  • Someone using stimulants may reduce their need for sleep and food.
  • How long the effects of the drug last vary depending on the person and how they administer it. The faster your body absorbs a drug, the more intense the high, but the shorter the duration of the effects.
  • When someone snorts cocaine, which is the most common route of administration, they may have a slow onset of their high, and it could last 15 to 30 minutes. 
  • Someone smoking cocaine may get an immediate high lasting just five or ten minutes.

Cocaine is made from the coca plant leaves found in South America. The drug looks like a fine, white powder, but it’s often mixed with other ingredients like cornstarch to increase profits for drug dealers.

While people use cocaine to feel euphoric and energetic, it can also make some people aggressive, angry, anxious, or paranoid, in addition to the possible physical symptoms of the addictive drug. 

Cocaine use changes how the brain functions by increasing dopamine levels in parts of the brain that control motivation and reward. When you use the drug often, your brain becomes used to the large amounts of dopamine it produces. That makes naturally rewarding activities less appealing. You’ll want more and more cocaine to feel normal over time.

Cocaine prevents dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine from taking up nerve cells. Large amounts of these neurotransmitters accumulate and stimulate the nerve cells, leading to a euphoric high.

Physical effects of cocaine use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle twitches 
  • Increases in blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Higher body temperature
  • Headaches
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Heart attack
  • Seizure
  • Stroke

Short-term psychological effects can include:

  • Paranoia
  • Panic
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Abnormal behaviors
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Your System?

While the actual noticeable effects of cocaine are short-lived, it can stay in your system and show up on a drug test for anywhere from one to four days, and sometimes for weeks after use.

Many factors that contribute to how long cocaine stays in your system are individual. Factors that play a role in drug test detection times for cocaine include:

  • A drug test looks for metabolites that your body produces when it breaks down substances. Some drug metabolites stay in the system for longer than others, so drug detection windows vary depending on the particular ones being tested.
  • The more cocaine you use, the longer it stays in the system, and how often you use the stimulant extends the detection window.
  • The method of administration, such as whether cocaine is snorted or smoked, affects how long it stays in the system.
  • The higher your body fat, the more cocaine metabolites might gather in your body, leading to longer windows of detection.

Typically, cocaine might show up for up to two days in a saliva test, and the detection time is similar in a blood test. A urine test could show up for around four days on average, and in a hair follicle test, for up to three months.

Is Cocaine Addictive?

There’s an unfortunate misconception that cocaine isn’t addictive. In reality, it can be extremely addictive and for some people using it just a few times leads to a cocaine use disorder. 

Someone with a cocaine addiction will often have physical and psychological cravings for the drug and its effects over a period of time. 

Cocaine use, particularly repetitively, changes the decision-making, memory, and pleasure systems. When you’re addicted to cocaine effects, you cannot resist cravings or urges.

Some groups may be at higher risk of developing cocaine addiction symptoms. 

This includes anyone with a co-occurring mental illness like depression or someone with an addiction to other drugs or alcohol. If you have a family history of drug dependence, it can also create a higher risk of developing substance use disorders. 

What Are Cocaine Addiction Symptoms to Watch For?

Some of the signs of cocaine addiction can include:

  • Frequently disappearing, often to get more drugs or have binge sessions
  • General changes in behavior such as violent behavior or engaging in risky behaviors
  • Not being able to stop or reduce cocaine use
  • Wanting to cut down on cocaine usage and failing
  • Developing a tolerance and needing larger amounts to get high
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using
  • Continuing to use the stimulant even when there are health effects
  • Negative effects on relationships, employment, and quality of life
  • Spending a lot of time and money getting and using cocaine
  • Mental health symptoms like psychosis, anxiety, or irritability

Cocaine addiction is a diagnosable condition, and there are certain criteria a health care provider can use. A professional can also assess how many symptoms of cocaine addiction a person has to determine the severity of their substance use disorder. 

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is something that occurs with physical dependence on a substance. Physical dependence is separate from addiction, which is a psychological disorder. While addiction and dependence are distinct, they very often occur together.

When a person is dependent on cocaine and stops using it, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Hostility
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Problems with sleep

Treating Cocaine Addiction in Southern California

Cocaine addiction treatment options include treatment facilities, like inpatient and outpatient options. Whether a treatment program occurs on an inpatient or outpatient basis, the goal is to cover addiction holistically and get to the root causes. Treatment facilities often use group and individual therapy and support groups.

Behavioral treatment is an evidence-based way to approach an addiction to cocaine.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most common behavioral approaches to cocaine addiction. Alternative therapies like nutrition, exercise, and acupuncture also help some people.

If you’d like to learn more about cocaine addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, get in touch with our team confidentially.