What Are the Signs of Cocaine Abuse?

An image of a woman with her hands on her face, showing the signs of a cocaine addictionIt can be challenging to identify the signs of cocaine abuse in a loved one but it is nevertheless possible to pinpoint a variety of physical and mental markers.

The more you learn about the signs of cocaine abuse and addiction, the more effectively you can connect a friend or family member with treatment at an appropriate level of care.

This guide showcases the most prominent physical and mental signs of cocaine addiction. You can also discover how to seamlessly transition a loved one into inpatient or outpatient cocaine addiction treatment.


Cocaine is an illegal stimulant that induces an exhilarating high. Derived from the coca plant, cocaine is classified as a schedule II controlled substance. Like all Schedule II drugs, there are some medical uses for cocaine, but the drug also carries a high risk of abuse and addiction in the form of stimulant use disorder.

Before we highlight the common signs of cocaine abuse, it is worth outlining the symptoms of cocaine addiction.

Cocaine addiction is clinically diagnosed as stimulant use disorder, one of ten substance use disorders recognized in American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5-TR (the most recent edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

These are the symptoms of stimulant use disorder (cocaine addiction):

  1. Using more cocaine than planned or using cocaine for longer than intended.
  2. Requiring more cocaine to achieve the same effects as tolerance builds.
  3. Trying and failing to moderate or discontinue use of cocaine.
  4. Spending a lot of time using cocaine and recovering from its effects.
  5. Using cocaine in dangerous situations.
  6. Experiencing intense cravings for cocaine.
  7. Spending less time on previously favored activities as a result of cocaine use?
  8. Neglecting personal or professional responsibilities due to cocaine abuse.
  9. Withdrawal symptoms presenting in the absence of cocaine.
  10. Continued cocaine use even though it is causing or worsening a physical or mental health condition.
  11. Using cocaine although it is causing problems in your marriage or relationship.

Cocaine addiction or stimulant use disorder is diagnosed according to the number of criteria that present as mild (2 to 3), moderate (4 to 5), or severe (6 or more).

Whether you smoke, snort, or inject cocaine, the effects set in quickly. The sustained use of the drug causes tolerance to develop rapidly, diminishing its effects. If you start using more of the drug to combat tolerance, you are become physically dependent on cocaine.

Chronic cocaine abuse can bring about functional and structural brain changes, making it harder for you to resist cravings for the drug.


If you suspect that a loved one is abusing cocaine, you should look out for a range of physical, mental, and behavioral signs.

The most common physical signs of cocaine abuse are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Runny nose
  • Persistent nosebleeds
  • Insomnia
  • Breathing problems
  • Blackouts
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased energy levels
  • High body temperature
  • Weight loss
  • Restlessness
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Tolerance to cocaine
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Hypertension
  • Heart attack


The most common mental signs of cocaine abuse are:

  • Reduced interest in favored activities
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Social withdrawal
  • Talking excessively
  • Excessive pornography viewing
  • Dishonesty concerning movements and activities
  • Reckless behaviors
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Stealing money
  • Trying to borrow money
  • Using other addictive substances
  • Socializing exclusively with people who use cocaine
  • Large periods of time spent using cocaine
  • Inability to stop using cocaine
  • Continuing to use cocaine in spite of negative outcomes

What to Do When You Recognize Signs of Cocaine Addiction

If you feel that a loved one exhibits many of the above signs of cocaine abuse, initiate an ongoing conversation about addiction treatment and the recovery process.

Keep in mind that addiction is a chronic and incurable brain condition characterized by compulsive cocaine use in the face of negative outcomes.

Let your friend or family member know that you will do what you can to connect them with inpatient or outpatient cocaine addiction treatment.

If your loved one refuses to engage with treatment or denies the existence of a substance abuse issue, consider staging an intervention. You will get together with your loved one and a group of friends and family members, inviting your loved one to pursue a pre-arranged treatment program.


Although there are no approved pharmacological interventions for the treatment of cocaine addiction, stimulant disorders typically respond well to behavioral therapies and motivational therapies. If you initiate your recovery at a Gratitude Lodge treatment center in Newport Beach. Long Beach, or San Diego, you can take advantage of supervised medical detoxification to address physical dependency on cocaine.

Once you have detoxed from cocaine, you will be ready to tackle the fiercely psychological component of stimulant use disorder. Choose from the following pathways to sustained recovery at Gratitude Lodge:

  • 30-day residential rehab program
  • Intensive outpatient program

All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs for cocaine addiction draw from the following therapies:

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Motivational therapy
  • Family therapy
  • 12-step immersion program
  • Daily meetings

When you are ready to address cocaine addiction before, reach out to Gratitude Lodge by calling 800-994-2184.

Signs of cocaine abuse FAQs

Signs of cocaine abuse may include increased energy and hyperactivity, euphoria or extreme happiness, talkativeness, dilated pupils, and a decreased appetite. Other possible signs include restlessness, erratic behavior, financial issues, and a decline in personal hygiene. If you suspect someone is abusing cocaine, it’s essential to seek professional help and support.

Yes, cocaine is an addictive substance. It can lead to psychological dependence and cravings, making it challenging for individuals to stop using it. Prolonged use of cocaine can have severe negative effects on physical and mental health.

Cocaine abuse can have various negative effects on both physical and mental health. Short-term effects may include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, and intense euphoria. Long-term use can lead to serious health complications, such as cardiovascular problems, respiratory issues, neurological damage, mood disorders, and addiction.