woman sitting in bed considers the signs of cocaine use

Signs of Cocaine Use

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, also known as an “upper.” This means it temporarily boosts mood, alertness, and energy. Cocaine is also highly addictive, and it can negative impacts on both your physical and mental health. It’s important to be on the lookout for signs of cocaine use in a loved one. Cocaine addiction can ruin lives and put a strain on relationships. However, a cocaine addiction treatment center can help.

Behavioral Signs of Cocaine Use

The presence of white powder around the nose is an obvious physical sign of cocaine use, but cocaine can also result in noticeable changes in behavior. Some of these are quite specific to cocaine use. For example, if a loved one is high on cocaine, they may have a runny nose, sniff frequently, or wipe their nose often. Other behavioral warning signs include:

  • Being highly energized
  • Talking quickly or for long stretches of time
  • Paranoia
  • Aggression
  • Excitability
  • Restlessness
  • Increased alertness and energy
  • A boost in mood and confidence for no apparent reason
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, such as staying up late—sometimes until the early morning
  • Eating less or developing an eating disorder
  • More risk-taking behavior
  • Increased promiscuity

Long-Term Signs of Cocaine Use

Cocaine is very addictive and can change a user’s emotional life in the long-term. Common long-term signs of cocaine abuse include:

Mood Swings

When the high from cocaine subsides, users may feel moody and act more hostile and aggressive than usual.

Loss of Smell

If a loved one is reporting issues with a decreased sense of smell, this could be an effect of long-term cocaine use.

Mental Health Issues

Like with all addictions, drug use can follow from mental health issues as a way of dealing with emotional pain. But substance abuse can also lead to—or worsen—mental health problems. People who abuse cocaine can develop depression or anxiety in the long run, which is called a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

Worsened Well-Being

Long-term cocaine use can worsen well-being in other ways. It can leave users feeling tired, nervous, or apathetic all the time. Since the drug interferes with normal sleep, it can also increase feelings of burnout, stress, and irritability.

Social Isolation

Cocaine is known to make people more sociable and outgoing, but that’s only when users feel the drug’s effects. When those effects wear off, the person you know may isolate themselves. This is usually so they can try and sleep. Taking sleeping pills or drinking are two ways of getting to sleep, so if you notice that they’re always sociable at night but reclusive the next day, this may be a sign of cocaine use.

Financial Problems

Cocaine is known for being an expensive drug. This means addiction to cocaine can lead to financial issues. Addicted individuals may continue to fund their cocaine use at the expense of paying bills. They may get into debt and constantly ask to borrow money. Cocaine addiction can also drive people to steal or lie in order to get money.


If you have a friend who uses cocaine, you may be worried about whether their use is becoming a problem. One sign of problematic use is increased tolerance. This is when a user needs to take more of a drug for the same effect. If a loved one is taking higher doses of cocaine, you have every right to be worried. High doses of cocaine increase the risk of:

  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Heart attack

Cocaine and Alcohol

Drinking and cocaine use often go hand-in-hand. Alcohol reduces inhibitions. People addicted to cocaine find that, after some drinks, they feel a compulsion to get cocaine. If you notice your friend is always picking up cocaine on nights out, then cocaine abuse or addiction could be why. Cocaine addicts struggle to control their urges to obtain and use the drug. Alcohol is especially bad for cocaine users because mixing alcohol with cocaine in the liver produces a new drug: cocaethylene. It increases heart rate 200% more than cocaine alone. It’s also more toxic for the heart than cocaine. If a loved one is starting to drink in an out-of-control way, a cocaine habit could be at play.

Cocaine and Fentanyl

Many of those who use cocaine—on purpose or not—can receive cocaine that is laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. Abusing fentanyl-laced cocaine increases the risk of overdose. Signs of an overdose from cocaine plus fentanyl include:

  • Shallow breathing or ceasing to breathe
  • Gurgling sounds or snoring (indicating that their airway is partially blocked)
  • Blue fingertips or lips
  • Floppy arms and legs
  • No response to stimulus
  • Disorientation
  • Unconsciousness

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Another key sign of cocaine addiction is withdrawal symptoms. These take place when a cocaine addict stops using. Unlike heroin addiction, which has physical withdrawal symptoms, those relating to cocaine are more psychological. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep problems

It’s crucial to spot these kinds of symptoms. When an individual who uses cocaine experiences withdrawal, they’re at risk of relapsing. If you can help a loved one get through withdrawal symptoms by getting them in touch with an addiction expert, then they stand a good chance of recovering.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction at Washburn House

There are a number of addiction treatment options to help someone stay sober. These include:

  • Rehab services such as detox, inpatient treatment, day treatment, or an intensive outpatient program
  • Therapy or counseling
  • Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Lifestyle changes

Offering a loved one support can help massively in their recovery from addiction. It’s important not to judge or reject someone for his or her drug problem. What they crave, instead, is understanding and compassion. The first step is realizing when a loved one has a problem they need to fix. If you need some advice on how to approach your loved one, call Washburn House in Worcester, MA at 855.298.3104.

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