Breaking Down the Top Signs of Cocaine Use

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There are several tell-tale signs of cocaine use that can make it easy for others to tell if you are high. Cocaine is a stimulant, which means using it will make your body feel like it’s on fast forward. So what are the signs some is using coke or cocaine? People will notice how fast you’re talking, how twitchy you seem, all while your mind races and your heart beats at a rapid pace.

You likely started using cocaine, or coke, as it’s commonly referred, recreationally to reach a euphoric high that could make you feel both excited and happy. The craving for the drug is met with the need to feel a sense of release again, which is why cocaine is known for being so addictive. But in an instant, your mood can change. One minute, you might experience the highest high, but then comes the lowest of lows. This drastic difference is definitely noticeable, especially for those who are close to you.

When you are coming down from the high of cocaine you may act aggressively, be angry, or seem paranoid. Noticing this behavioral shift in a friend, family member, or coworker you suspect is using cocaine may seem like it’d be obviously present, which isn’t always the case. These behavioral shifts are something to be mindful of, but there are also common symptoms and cocaine use signs to look out for as well. Signs someone is using cocaine may include:

  • Levels of hyper-agitation
  • Lack of inhibitions
  • Quick movements and over-the-top enthusiasm
  • Body tics or twitches
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Frequent nosebleeds

Frequent nosebleeds can be common when you ingest cocaine by snorting it. They may constantly have a runny nose or signs of a cold, when drugs may actually be the culprit. Snorting cocaine also may result in a lost sense of smell and can lead to an overdose quite easily, if too much is snorted at one time.

The high reached with cocaine is intense, but not long lasting, which is why it’s often abused by snorting several lines at a time or injecting it on a frequent basis. The side effects of cocaine may result in restlessness, depression, and experiencing bad dreams. Using cocaine takes a physical, mental, and psychological toll on your body.

How Can I Detect Cocaine Abuse?

Cocaine affects people in different ways on different levels. The symptoms mentioned above are only a few of the signs of cocaine use. Many symptoms are similar if you are suffering from addiction to other types of drugs, but there are other signs for when you have been abusing cocaine specifically.

It’s not uncommon for a loved one using cocaine to disappear to the bathroom for a few moments only to emerge in a different mood. They may seem like they’ve received a surge of energy and talk more excitedly and expressively than before. A tell tale sign will be white powder residue near their nose, which can leave little room to doubt if there is an issue at hand. This is a clear sign someone is using coke.

Cocaine can also be injected by dissolving the white powder in water. This method might result in dilated pupils and a higher sensitivity to light. When you inject cocaine you will also usually have bruising at the injection point; although, some people inject in areas that can be more easily hidden to avoid setting off any alarm.

In addition to snorting and injecting, cocaine can be smoked in the form of crack. Crack cocaine requires the use of a small glass pipe in order to create vapors to inhale. This paraphernalia may be present in a loved one’s home or car and may cause them to feel disoriented and experience delusions.

Effects of Cocaine Use on the Heart

When cocaine is ingested in any shape or form, it takes immediate effect on the body. That’s one of the reasons why people become addicted – the immediate high. However, the adverse effects may include a faster heart rate, constricted blood vessels, and can directly lead to a heart attack or cardiac arrest.

Cocaine is a stimulant and puts extreme stress on your entire cardiovascular system. Long-term use of cocaine can lead to an enlarged or permanently damaged heart, which will render it unable to pump blood properly. When you abuse cocaine, it damages the muscle of your heart and also lead to tissue inflammation.

This can result in heart failure, stroke, or brain damage due to the lack of blood able to be supplied to the brain. Cocaine is a detriment to all organs, but the heart is one that suffers most. If you are currently battling cocaine addiction don’t be discouraged. Recovery is possible when you have right emotional and medical support system in place.

Effects of Cocaine Use on the Brain

Cocaine causes an increase of dopamine in the brain, which controls feelings of pleasure. Dopamine is already present in the brain and is released under normal circumstances for certain “feel good” things like the smell of delicious food, exercise, listening to music, and other healthy activities. It then goes back to the cell that released it, shutting off the nerve signal.
Cocaine, on the other hand, doesn’t allow dopamine to go through the recycling process and creates an extensive buildup of it between nerve cells. The result? A disruption in the normal brain communication and functioning, which results in the euphoric high cocaine abusers seek.

That’s why when you use cocaine you feel on the top of the world and capable of anything, which is great for the short time that the feeling lasts, but ultimately, is detrimental to your health and can cause an intense behavioral shift that cause make you aggressive. Unpredictable behavior combined with angry outbursts is a dangerous place to be in.

Long-Term Signs of Cocaine Use

Over time, the continued use of cocaine will result in a decline of your physical health and wellness. The physical effects are mainly in the heart and brain. But the mental deterioration may impact the heavy mood swings that come with using cocaine.

If you’ve been using cocaine for a long time you may build up a tolerance, meaning that your body requires more of the drug to achieve the high you once felt. This is especially dangerous behavior due to the amount of cocaine that may be ingested over a short period of time. You may be willing to take the risk because of your addiction. You physically cannot stop. Or, if you do, it’s never for long.

Unfortunately, you risk the chance of overdose because you want to eliminate your cravings and any feelings of anxiety or depression. The up and down mood swings can bleed into your everyday life and affect personal relationships, their productivity at work, and bonds you share with your family.

Cocaine use affects every aspect of your life because of the stronghold it takes on both the body and the mind. It may not affect everything all at once, but it will eventually trickle down and negatively impact yourself and those around you. Remember that those that reach out to help you only want the best for you and believe in your ability to live a happy and sober life.

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Cocaine Use at a Young Age

It’s common for cocaine use to start an early age. Nearly 2% of kids in the 10th grade reported use of cocaine and nearly 4% reported for 12th graders in 2016, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s Monitoring the Future Study.

The effects of peer pressure play a common role, but also the desire to experiment in early stages of life create bad habits at a younger age. Because of its addictive nature, it can be easy for teens to create a quick dependency that will ultimately affect them into their adult years. It can lead to future psychotic episodes and other disorders within the brain because of the lifelong damage it can leave behind.

Although the percentages have slowly been decreasing year after year, substance abuse still remains a critical problem among teens and young adults, which can lead to increased cases of addiction down the road. Even if use is infrequent, each time poses a risk.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Recovery for cocaine addiction isn’t a simple process, but many have entered treatment to emerge successful. It’s true, treatment comes with its own set of challenges. But without treatment, you continually put your physical and mental health at risk. The consequences of continued addiction are far more severe than facing the process of recovery. It may be difficult, but it doesn’t mean it’s not doable. It takes dedication and determination to see the process through and the reward is well worth it.

Remember, there are treatment programs to fit different needs. Not everyone will respond to the same kind of care. You may prefer the option of being able to detox and receive treatment near the comfort of their own home and the support available to them. Or, you may seek the solace of inpatient care at a separate location, so you can truly focus on their recovery without the distractions of daily life.

We always recommended to go through detox with the help of a facility, which can last up to a week or more, and then many choose to continue with inpatient treatment at the same place. The important thing to remember is there is help available. At a time when life seem at its most difficult, you have the opportunity to change the course of your future for the better.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient care requires you to stay voluntarily for a certain number of days through the course of the treatment process. When your current environment is toxic or holds too many temptations where you do not have the strength and support to live within it in a healthy way, inpatient care provides an outlet, while you work through withdrawal symptoms and towards a life-long recovery. This gives you the room to grow and establish healthy habits.

Inpatient centers are usually near areas of solitude and peace where people can be cared for in a calm and comfortable environment. Addiction wreaks havoc on the body, so it’s nice to be in a place where it can rest and relax.

There’s a schedule to inpatient care that helps monitor a your health and helps you work through your struggles with addiction with both one-on-one and group counseling. Inpatient care often provides ways for you to learn ways to cope with your cravings and replace them with healthier options for the future.

With any kind of treatment, there are many elements that help you achieve and maintain sobriety. Care for the body, mind, and spirit has to all be attended to in a comprehensive way in order for recovery to work long-term.

Outpatient Care

Not everyone opts for inpatient care, but instead may choose to attend treatment via regular sessions at a clinic or facility without taking up temporary residency. Similar to inpatient care, you can learn about the underlying causes of addiction and identify potential triggers that may cause future use.

By learning about addiction and how to manage the disease in the future can help prevent relapse and make you feel more in control of your decisions. Outpatient care also allows you to be near to family or loved ones who may provide necessary emotional support.

The options are designed to be customized to your recovery. Recovery is a personal journey and must adapt to an individual’s struggles, needs, accomplishments, and setbacks.

How Can I Help My Loved One?

If you are a loved one of someone who struggles with cocaine addiction, you may be wondering how you can help. You can start by doing research of physicians and cocaine treatment programs available, should your loved one decide that they are ready to seek treatment.

It can be difficult if you think they are ready for care, but they feel like they can handle the problem on their own. Ultimately, the person suffering from addiction must make the choice for themselves. As a concerned friend or family member, you can be a person of support and compassion. But unfortunately, can’t force them to go.

Let them know that seeking help is courageous and will be beneficial to their health and future. If you have researched options already, it provides a clearer path of what the next step would be for them. It gives them a choice in where they are treated without causing additional stress.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your research. The more comfortable they feel during their stay at the treatment facility, the better likelihood of a successful outcome.


  1. Indian Health Service. Warning Signs of Drug Abuse and Addiction. Accessed April 5, 2016.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), What Are the Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use? Accessed April 3, 2016.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Substance Use in Women. Sept. 1, 2015, Accessed Feb. 4, 2016.
  4. Mayo Clinic, Drug Addiction (Substance Use Disorder). Oct. 26, 2017, Accessed Feb. 7, 2016.
  5. NCBI, 9 Substance-Induced Disorders. Accessed March 6. 2016.
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