Cocaine Addiction: Drug Information, Statistics, and Treatment

Last Updated: November 23, 2021

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Cocaine is a highly addictive powder that is abused to achieve the feeling of euphoria, or increased energy. It is a central nervous system stimulant that can cause short-term as well as long-term side effects. It has the ability to cause permanent damage to brain cells, nerve cells, and proteins. Thousands of individuals fall prey to cocaine addiction every year in the United States, affecting not only them but also their families. However, by gathering all the required information about its addiction and treatment, they have the option to contact professional rehabilitation services, which will help them through their resources and expertise. What is cocaine? Is cocaine addictive? Read along further to find information about is a coke stimulant, its abuse, addiction and treatment options, and the importance of seeking professional help.

What is Cocaine?

It is derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. The coca plant is relatively harmless in its natural state, but it can lead to severe and sometimes fatal physical responses when refined into coke. It is usually found in a white powder form that is abused in various ways.

Is Cocaine Addictive?

Coke comes in the form of a fine powder, which is usually snorted — inhaled through the nose; the standard dose taken is called an 8 ball of cocaine.

White cocaine powder.

How Much Is An 8 Ball Of Cocaine?

How Does Cocaine Look and Smell?

Сoke usually comes in an off-white, white, pink, or beige color of fine powder. Sometimes, other substances may be added to it to achieve a different color, which affects its potency. Its odor ranges from a sweet floral scent to a metallic and chemical-like smell. Since many chemicals are used during its extraction process, this gives it a strong chemical smell.

Despite that cocaine vs crack are made from the same substances their form and odor are different.

Is Cocaine a Stimulant?

Cocaine’s drug class makes it a central nervous system stimulant, so it answers the question of is cocaine a stimulant. It is a schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it has a high potential for abuse but can be administered by a doctor for medical uses, mainly as a local anesthetic.

Is There Slang For Cocaine?

There is various slang for cocaine, depending on the appearance, effects, geographical location, and actual names.

Some of the Slang for Cocaine Include:

  • Blow
  • Bump
  • C or Big C
  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Dust
  • Flake
  • Line
  • Nose Candy
  • Pearl
  • Rail
  • Snow
  • Sneeze
  • Sniff
  • Toot
  • White Rock

Apart from the above-mentioned slang for cocaine, several other street names are for it and its derivatives.

Cocaine Statistics

Cocaine is often used by young people. In fact, 1.3 percent of 8th graders report having used it at least once in their lives, with 4.2 percent of 12th graders have used the drug.

However, use is greatest in those aged 26 and older, with more than 16.5 percent of people in this age bracket having used this drug at least once in their lives.

According to a 2019 survey, more than 671,000 people above 12 years started abusing cocaine for the first time. An approximate 2 million US citizens admitted to having abused it that year. This is an alarmingly high number as it directly corresponds to more individuals suffering from side effects and severe consequences. If a pregnant woman abuses this drug, it has an increased risk of causing heart defects, problems with the central nervous system, and death. According to statistics, there are approximately 750,000 cocaine-exposed pregnancies each year.

According to the 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment, between 2016 and 2017, the number of reports from forensics labs of fentanyl and cocaine increased by 74%. In 2018, 74% of the fatal cases of its overdose involved its mixing with an opioid.

In 2014, about 913,000 Americans met the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for dependence or abuse of coke over the past 12 months.

In 2011, coke was involved in 505,224 emergency department visits for drug misuse or abuse.

Ways of Abusing Cocaine

There are several ways in which users abuse coke. These different administration methods affect the user differently in relation to demographics, clinical/psychological manifestations, and treatment, as shown in this research. According to The National Institute On Drug Abuse, cocaine can be taken orally, intranasally, intravenously, or by inhalation.

Cocaine spilled from the bag.

These Ways are Further Discussed Below:

  • One of the ways of abusing it is through snorting. Users tend to opt for this method because the powder is easier to obtain than other forms of the substance. It is the most common method and also dangerous. It takes about 10-20 minutes for the effects to kick in, but the remnants remain in the dose for quite some time. This method damages the nose’s bridge over time, and it can take a lot of time to recover.
  • Shooting or injecting are other methods that addicts use to achieve euphoria. Shooting or intravenous administration is regarded as one of the most dangerous methods of taking the drug. Its effects can start within 30 seconds, but it causes damage to the veins. Plus, this administration mode introduces the risks of transmission of diseases on account of the needles not being sterile.
  • Oral cocaine use is a less common method of consuming the drug. This method takes more time for the effects to kick in, prompting users to take more doses of the drug. This also can lead to a fatal overdose. Orally, users also mix the drug into food or alcohol to enhance the effects. These interactions can cause severe outcomes.

Cocaine Addiction Risk Groups

Certain groups may be more likely to become dependent on drugs, while others may be more likely to try drugs in the first place, thus increasing their risk of dependency. How much cocaine to overdose depends on various factors and varies from one individual to the other.

For Instance:

  • Veterans are more likely than the general population to succumb to drug and alcohol abuse. They often experience co-occurring disorders, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which may cause them to abuse substances.
  • Teens and college students are also more likely to try drugs and alcohol due to peer pressure and because they are often available at parties and other places young adults frequent.
  • Cocaine is also one of the most commonly used drugs among working professionals, making those in certain career fields more likely to try coke while on the job or after work.
  • According to this study about the risk factors regarding cocaine, women are more likely to abuse this drug than their counterparts and remain dependent on it longer.
  • Based on the research, African-Americans are nine times more likely to become addicted to cocaine in the first two years of usage than Caucasian and Latin Americans.

Signs Of Addiction To Cocaine

Most drug users try to hide the fact from those around them that they are abusing drugs. However, some behaviors may manifest over time, as it is hard for drug addicts to keep their habits a secret for long periods of time. Knowing what to look for allows one to get help for their loved ones as soon as possible.

The person who is using coke will most likely show some signs which can be divided into the following three categories:

Red eyes of cocaine addict.

Physical Signs and Symptoms

Some of the physical signs of cocaine use include the following:

  • Nose bleeds or sores around the nasal area from sniffing the drug
  • Rapid jaw movement
  • Jaw locking or teeth clenching
  • Tremors
  • Red eyes
  • Excitement
  • Talkativeness
  • Promiscuity
  • Lack of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Constant sniffing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Needle marks if the user injects the drug
  • Burn marks on the lips

Psychiatric Symptoms

According to a study by W. Alexander Morton about the manifestation of psychiatric signs in addicted patients, the following psychiatric signs of cocaine use may be present:

  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Violence
  • Suicidal thinking
  • Homicidal thinking
  • Other comorbid psychiatric disorders

Behavioral Signs and Symptoms

Due to the study findings, the chronic use of this drug is associated with several behavioral signs of cocaine use, which are listed below:

  • Secretive behavior
  • Decreased hygiene
  • Aggressive/ Agitated behavior
  • Repetitive/ stereotyped behavior
  • Unusual social or sexual behavior
  • Changed personality
  • Isolated behavior or increased need for privacy
  • Financial difficulties
  • Use of cocaine slang
  • Poor performance at work or school

Reasons To Seek Addiction Treatment

Perhaps the biggest struggle that users face in getting past their addiction is the denial of their problem since they do not even answer the question of is cocaine addictive in the affirmative. Nevertheless, cocaine addiction, just like other substance addictions, can wreak havoc not only mentally, physically, but socially also in the lives of the abusers and their loved ones. That makes it even more important to seek addiction treatment in a timely manner.

Some of the Reasons to Seek Treatment are Listed Below:

  • One of the most important reasons is that addiction can be deadly, which causes thousands of deaths every year. Professional treatment enables one to take control of their life and choose good and health for themselves.
  • Trying to quit cocaine addiction on one’s own can cause debilitating withdrawal symptoms, which may cause users to relapse immediately. However, with a professional rehab facility, one can be assured that their symptoms will be managed carefully to ensure a long-lasting recovery.
  • Cocaine is an expensive drug that can cause financial problems for the users and their families. The loss of jobs and other financial resources can be another reason to seek treatment at the earliest.
  • Drugs can cause negative social impacts for the user, which can be another reason to seek treatment and enjoy a normal social life with friends and family.
  • Any kind of addiction gets worse over time, with the user experiencing more and more physical, mental, and social impacts. This makes it an important reason to start treatment without any delay so as to achieve recovery at the earliest.

Finding these centers is easy, as they are located all across the United States. To avoid complications from use, including overdose and death, help should be sought as soon as possible. The sooner the user reaches out, the sooner they can enter recovery.

Treatments for Addiction

Many people misunderstand what rehabilitation treatment is. They often think that it is just about detoxing from the drug, waiting for how long cocaine is in one’s system to end. However, the detox process is only the first step in rehabilitation. Once the user is safely off the drug, it is time to start building the skills they need to avoid future substance abuse. This stage of rehabilitation can last months. And once the user is finished with rehabilitation, they go into aftercare, attending cocaine anonymous meetings to maintain the strength needed to continue saying no to drug abuse.

Doctor talks with patient about treatment.

When seeking help, users often worry that treatment for coke addicts doesn’t work. The chances are high that the user has met at least one active addict who has sought treatment in the past, yet they are still using. While there are many reasons that an addict might relapse, the truth is studies have proven that rehabilitation works far more often than it fails.

Perhaps the greatest factors in the success of treatment for cocaine addicts are the commitment on the part of the addict and finding the right fit for them. Despite how rehabilitation is portrayed in the media, no two clinics take the exact same approach. Patients can look at the therapies used, both behavioral and pharmacological, contact them personally to take all the required information, decide between residential, outpatient, and combination programs, and then follow up with cocaine anonymous programs. While it might take a little research, the right center is out there.

Cocaine Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabs

There are numerous factors to consider when selecting a rehabilitation clinic for cocaine addiction recovery. However, the biggest one is deciding between inpatient and outpatient rehab. While the user may automatically lean towards one over the other, it is vital that they understand the pros and cons before they make their decision.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient cocaine rehab takes place completely within the treatment facility. During the time of treatment, the user lives at the center full time, follows a set schedule, and is given access to medical and psychological care at all times. For many users, inpatient care is needed in the initial stages of treatment, and some will require it throughout the rehabilitation process.

Some of the Benefits of Inpatient Care Include:

  • The patient has 24-hour supervision and support
  • There is a community that the user can turn to and depend on
  • Since other patients are going through the same process, it lacks a sense of shame or otherness
  • The help is intense, which is often needed in treatment for addiction
  • There is no access to distractions or cocaine itself, allowing the user to get through the hardest parts of recovery without temptation

While there are numerous benefits to inpatient options, they could be problematic for some users for the following reasons:

  • Freedom is greatly restricted since the patient cannot leave the facility
  • Visitors may not be allowed or will only be allowed on certain days and at certain times
  • Everything is highly structured, from when the patient wakes up to when they eat, shower, and more
  • Patients with children will need child care assistance
  • Patients with jobs will need to take a leave of absence
  • Many insurance policies only cover outpatient rehabilitation

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient cocaine rehab takes place at centers, but the patients live at home during their treatment. Depending on the program chosen, the therapy sessions may last the entire day, which still can pose problems with jobs and other commitments. However, the patient will be home every morning and night, making them more available for family and chores at home.

Doctor talks with patient about cocaine therapy.

Some of the Benefits of Outpatient Care Include:

  • Greater availability to attend to family matters
  • In the later stages of treatment, therapy sessions may be shorter and able to be scheduled on the weekends or after work hours
  • Because the patient is in the real world, they can apply their therapies immediately
  • Family sessions are usually incorporated, helping loved ones in assisting the user
  • Outpatient care is cheaper and often covered by insurance

With that said, outpatient care does have its problems, including:

  • A greater risk of relapse due to exposure to triggers
  • Continued access to the drug
  • Distractions that take focus from recovery
  • Less access to therapists and medical care
  • A limited sense of community

Starting Right Now

Getting help for addiction means talking about the problem at hand, and for many, that can be uncomfortable. In our society, there are plenty of stigmas attached to cocaine addiction and addiction in general. But users must never allow this to stop them from getting the addiction treatment they need. Rehabilitation programs do not judge how or why the addiction has occurred; they just offer the assistance the user needs to live a better life.

No matter what has led to the need for addiction treatment, rehabilitation centers offer judgment-free assistance in getting onto the road to recovery. Remember that rehabilitation treatment is better than cocaine overdose treatment. The user must get help before it is too late.

Addiction Treatment Makes it Possible to Live a Healthy Life

Cocaine is a powerful drug and highly addictive, making it difficult to stop using without assistance. However, there are many programs across the United States that offer approaches that make a recovery possible. Once treatment for cocaine addiction is complete, the user enters the aftercare support phase through cocaine anonymous meetings. Together, these two phases of treatment allow them to live a healthy life.


Page Sources

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  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse, What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse, How is cocaine addiction treated, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-treatments-are-effective-cocaine-abusers
  4. SAMHSA, Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRBriefSlides082120.pdf
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Published on: October 1st, 2015

Updated on: November 23rd, 2021

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.