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Symptoms of cocaine/crack cocaine addiction

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can be highly addictive due to the short but intense high that it creates. This substance is usually snorted through the nose in white powder form, and because the resulting euphoric state is very brief, if you begin misusing cocaine often, you will likely build up more serious cocaine addiction symptoms, which can include a tolerance to the drug. This tolerance means that you will need to take more cocaine with increasing frequency in order to achieve the desired effects.

Crack cocaine is the freebase form of cocaine, which occurs when inhaling the vapours of the drug in its natural state, and appears in a rock-shaped form as opposed to the powdered version of cocaine. This method of taking the drug results in rapid onset of euphoria and stimulating symptoms, due to it being readily absorbed into your bloodstream.

The signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction will vary from person to person, and this is the case with all types of substance misuse. However, there are several psychological, physical and behavioural symptoms that have been identified which have shown to be reliable indicators that you may be suffering from cocaine use disorder.

Psychological symptoms of cocaine addiction

  • Poor decision-making capabilities
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Psychosis
  • Brief state of euphoria
  • Sudden overabundance of confidence
  • Mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Depression

Physical symptoms of cocaine addiction

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose
  • Persistent nosebleeds
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bursts of energy
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Stroke
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Heart attack
  • Breathing problems
  • Hypertension
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Behavioural symptoms of cocaine addiction

  • Acting impulsively or with increased energy
  • Attempting to borrow or steal money
  • Being dishonest about your whereabouts, associates and activities
  • Being unable to curtail your cocaine misuse
  • Engaging in reckless and risky behaviours
  • Excessive viewing of porn
  • Engaging with prostitutes/escorts

Taking crack cocaine leads to an increased risk of tolerance, dependency and addiction due to the fast acting high. This means that crack cocaine is often taken more frequently than non-freebased forms of the drug.

If you or a loved one has become addicted to crack cocaine, symptoms will be similar to cocaine use but more intense and immediate effects:

  • Extreme euphoria
  • Heightened alertness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increase heart-rate
  • Intense cravings
  • Feeling energetic

The risk of overdosing when taking crack cocaine is extremely high, due to the drug entering your lungs and bloodstream with 10-15 seconds and the initial side effects not usually lasting for more than 10 minutes.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Fortunately, there is support available for individuals who have developed an addiction to cocaine and other illicit substances. Although an addiction to a stimulant such as cocaine can be difficult to overcome, residential treatment that offers specialist programmes for cocaine misuse can help you to regain control of your life and leave your addiction in the past.

Treatment for cocaine addiction at Priory initially involves a free addiction assessment at your nearest Priory hospital, where an experienced therapist will complete a confidential assessment of your specific circumstances and relationship with cocaine. Your bespoke treatment plan will often consist of detoxification and psychotherapy, not only helping to remove the drug from your body, but to also work towards continued abstinence once you have completed your treatment programme.     

As your cocaine misuse becomes more frequent, you are likely to experience damage to your mind and body; this can also affect your home life and performance at work or school. If this sounds familiar to you, it may be due to the fact that your cocaine addiction has spiralled out of control, resulting in what clinicians refer to as a 'cocaine use disorder'. Longer-term, it can lead to people suffering from anxiety, depression, paranoia and panic attacks.

Find out more, about cocaine addiction treatment.

This page was reviewed by Stephanie Chick (FDAP) in July 2020, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in July 2022. To view all Priory cocaine addiction specialists, please click here.

Effects of cocaine and crack cocaine misuse on daily life
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Symptoms of cocaine and crack cocaine withdrawal
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