Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Your brother looks like he’s lost a lot of weight … a significant amount. He also has been having a ton of mood swings. Now, you never want to assume because maybe he’s just going through a tough time in his life.

And then one night, you see it: white powder under his nose. Is my brother addicted to cocaine? While these can be very obvious signs, there are also more subtle signs of cocaine addiction to look out for. We will discuss those less noticeable signs and cocaine addiction treatment at Shadow Mountain Recovery.

What Is Cocaine?

One of the most well-known drugs, cocaine is an addictive stimulant (a substance that increases alertness, energy, and activity in the pleasure centers of the brain). Typically shown as a fine, white powder, it can be snorted, smoked, and injected.

Cocaine is a Schedule II substance. This means that it has the potential to be used in a dangerous way but can also be applied by doctors for medical reasons, such as an anesthetic for some surgeries.

Cocaine comes in a few different forms. While the white powder is the most common, another form of cocaine is crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is made by cooking cocaine powder with baking soda and then breaking it into small pieces called rocks. The name comes from how the substance crackles when it is heated and smoked.

Your Brain on Cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant, which means that it stimulates the brain. Cocaine specifically affects levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger responsible for our reward system and our movement.

Typically, dopamine will be recycled back into our cells. Cocaine changes this as that recycling is stopped and leaves a big buildup of dopamine. The buildup is the “high” one may feel, and it encourages someone to use even bigger amounts to reach that buildup again.

It also changes the brain by increasing its tolerance. Once you gain tolerance to a certain amount, your brain won’t get the same effect. This encourages you to use more and can lead to addiction and dependence on cocaine. Unfortunately, it can also lead to cocaine overdose as well.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Addiction is something that can sneak up on you without you even realizing it. While there are some obvious signs of addiction, such as someone always having drug tools on them and things of that nature, there are some other signs that are more subtle.

Constantly Sniffing

If someone is constantly sniffing, this could be a possible sign of addiction. Snorting cocaine can mess with the nasal passages, even causing a condition called cocaine nose. Symptoms of cocaine nose include:

  • Nose whistling
  • Loss of smell
  • Nasal collapse
  • Deformed nose

While cocaine nose is more of an advanced condition, constantly sniffing can also be a sign of addiction.

Mood Swings

One of the most common effects of cocaine is a feeling called euphoria. Euphoria is extreme happiness and the reason many use cocaine. When euphoria wears off, irritability sets in. The effects of cocaine typically last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, and irritability is much more likely if someone is addicted to cocaine.

Financial Troubles

Cocaine addiction costs a fortune, mentally and financially. Financial troubles typically plague many who are addicted to cocaine due to how expensive it can be. Sometimes the financial burden is too much to bear, and those addicted to cocaine resort to crimes. From theft to committing fraud, sometimes these acts are done while someone is under the influence of cocaine, but these acts are primarily done to pay for more cocaine.

Weight Loss

Another common physical trait of cocaine addiction is weight loss. Cocaine addiction affects a person’s metabolism, or how our body processes food. This can mess with someone’s fat intake and storage within their body, causing an imbalance. According to the National Institutes of Health, people addicted to cocaine tend to eat fattier foods and have uncontrolled eating patterns, but still have a reduced fat mass within their bodies.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine

There are both short-term and long-term effects of cocaine use. These effects can appear within a few minutes and disappear within the hour. The strength of the high depends on how the cocaine is used. An injection would produce a stronger high, but that high would disappear in a shorter time frame. However, snorting cocaine would have a high that would last 15 to 30 minutes. Some of the short-term effects of cocaine use include:

  • Euphoria (extreme happiness and energy)
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, touch, and sound
  • Paranoia (extreme and unreasonable distrust of others)

Even a small amount of cocaine can cause these short-term effects. There are also physiological effects of cocaine use. These effects can include:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Muscle twitches
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils (dark centers of your eyes enlarged)
  • Fast heartbeat

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

One of the most common long-term effects of cocaine use is growing tolerance. As said before, using cocaine can affect the brain’s chemistry and can cause someone to become more tolerant to the substance, meaning they would need to use more to get the same high, which can lead to addiction.

Higher amounts of cocaine can lead to restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia, and something called psychosis. Psychosis is a state where someone loses their sense of reality and starts to hallucinate (see and hear things that aren’t there).

The effects of cocaine also depend on the route of administration. For example, injecting cocaine can lead to the long-term effects of “track” marks. These are marks on someone’s arm from the needles used to inject. Other effects of cocaine injection can include:

  • Skin infection
  • Collapsed veins
  • Higher risk of hepatitis C and HIV

Smoking cocaine can cause these long-term effects:

  • Higher risk of pneumonia
  • Coughing
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory (breathing) distress

The long-term effects of snorting cocaine can include:

  • Issues with nasal pathways
  • Nosebleeds
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Frequent runny nose

Long-term cocaine use causes damage to organs in the body as well. Ulcers and tears are common due to the fact that cocaine can lower blood flow in the intestines. It also affects the cardiovascular system, and many people with cocaine use disorder report having chest pains that feel like a heart attack. There is also an increased risk of stroke and ruptures in the aorta.

Along with physiological issues, there are also neurological issues that come with long-term cocaine use. Cocaine can cause long-term issues with memory, making decisions, attentiveness, and possibly issues with motor functioning. Brain bleeding can also occur, along with bulges in the brain’s blood vessels.

How Common Is Cocaine Addiction?

Cocaine use is common in the U.S. In 2018, 2 million people ages 18 to 25 and 3.5 million people age 26 or older reported using cocaine.

The Land of Enchantment has been affected by drug use as well. In 2020, drug- and alcohol-related deaths reached an all-time high in New Mexico. While many of these were due to opioids, cocaine use has still remained common among the youth of New Mexico. Teenagers in New Mexico are 37.04% more likely to have used drugs in the past month than other teenagers, and over 17% of people in high school reported lifetime cocaine use.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Shadow Mountain Recovery

Cocaine addiction is tough to go through and can have very damaging consequences. Shadow Mountain Recovery wants to help the people of New Mexico recover, which is why we offer cocaine addiction treatment. The first part of treatment will be getting rid of all the cocaine in your body, or detox.

Cocaine Detox

Cocaine detox can last about a week. During this time, medical staff will be there 24/7 to help you through it. Shadow Mountain Recovery takes a holistic approach to detox as we seek to restore a client to complete health. Our approach includes yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and meditation.

Cocaine Withdrawal

During cocaine detox, it is common for clients to experience withdrawal. Withdrawal happens when you quit regularly taking cocaine, whether you’re in a treatment center or not.

There are typically three stages of cocaine withdrawal: the crash, withdrawal, and extinction.

The Crash

This is the first stage of cocaine withdrawal. It shows up relatively quickly after stopping misuse of cocaine. It has been found that cocaine withdrawal symptoms can show up as early as 90 minutes after stopping cocaine use. This phase can include feelings of anxiety, irritability, acute dysphoria (short bursts of uneasiness and sadness), increased appetite, and a decreased craving for cocaine.


This is the second stage of cocaine withdrawal. This is where withdrawal symptoms start coming on strong. This is when you will start to have cravings for the substance, your concentration starts to become poor, and you see an increase in irritability and the desire to sleep. This stage can last anywhere from one week to 10 weeks, and Shadow Mountain Recovery is able to be there every step of the way. Our trained staff will be able to give you medical supervision during this entire process. After this comes the extinction process.


This is the final stage of cocaine withdrawal and is the longest stage at 28 weeks. The extinction stage can include some feelings of dysphoria and occasional cravings for the substance.

Throughout the detox process, there will be 24/7 medical support to help you through this difficult time. After detox, you will begin the rest of your treatment plan, either residential or outpatient.

Residential Treatment

Also called inpatient treatment, residential treatment is where a client will live at the facility 24/7 while receiving treatment. Residential treatment is a great way for clients to focus on their recovery without worrying about outside triggers.

Residential treatment may not be right for you, but there are criteria that we provide to help you come to that decision. Residential treatment may make sense in these cases:

  • Chaotic home life: Unstable home environments can sabotage treatment.
  • Recently out of a detox program: Residential care is usually the next natural step after detox.
  • Other forms of treatment not working: Other forms of treatment may not be what’s best for you.

If residential treatment isn’t right for you, then you may try outpatient treatment.

Outpatient Treatment

We are aware that many of our clients still have duties outside of treatment. We do not want to make your life more difficult, which is why we offer outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment means that you attend the facility but go home afterward. At our outpatient clinic, clients can expect:

  • Different forms of therapy
  • Life and work skills training
  • Holistic treatments

One of the forms of therapy you will encounter in both forms of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Known as the gold standard of psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on catching inaccurate and negative thoughts while learning how to reshape them. CBT has strategies to change behavioral patterns, such as:

  • Learning how to relax one’s mind and body
  • Facing fears instead of avoiding them
  • Using role-play to prepare for problematic interactions with others

There are also strategies that address how to change thinking patterns. These include:

  • Using problem-solving skills to cope with stressful situations
  • Learning how to develop more confidence in one’s abilities
  • Learning how to recognize skewed thinking patterns and look at them realistically

CBT is known to have “homework” — activities that are to be done outside the therapy session — for its clients. These activities can be reading something, using the coping skills you learned, or writing down your feelings as they come to you. CBT works best when the client is open and honest with the therapist and themselves. While opening up will take time, you will get the most out of CBT when you do.

Holistic Treatment

Shadow Mountain Recovery offers holistic treatment as we believe the mind, body, and soul all work together to help overcome cocaine addiction. These treatment programs have proven to be effective for our clients, and these plans include yoga, meditation, Tai Chi, and fitness and equine therapy.

Holistic treatment challenges clients to look within themselves to their motivations and desires for change, and it also allows clients to explore the different ways their substance use affected them. This can range from the physical strain on their bodies to the ways they may be perceived by others and how that affects them mentally.

Start Your Journey at Shadow Mountain Recovery

Shadow Mountain Recovery is here to help you overcome addiction. Our mission is to provide alternatives to 12-step programming by offering holistic treatment options along with other evidence-based practices. Located in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Taos, and Santa Fe; our treatment facilities are strategically placed between the newer buildings of the city and the older pueblos. This gives our clients a visual of change being possible without losing yourself. Call 505-657-2117 to begin healing.

Similar Posts