Cocaine Addiction

Recreational use of cocaine can easily develop into a cocaine addiction.

This guide explores the dangers of cocaine and outlines how cocaine dependence and addiction develop and shows you how to connect with evidence-based treatment to kickstart your recovery from cocaine addiction.

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What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive Schedule II controlled substance derived from coca plant leaves. People indigenous to South America have used coca leaves for thousands of years for their stimulant properties.

Cocaine hydrocholoride was first isolated from the plant over 100 years ago. Cocaine was the active ingredient in many tonics in the early 1900s. Surgeons also used the substance as a pain reliever before synthetic local anesthetics were developed. Today, cocaine is an illicit narcotic with limited medical utility.

There are two primary forms of cocaine abuse:

Powdered cocaine is hydrochloride salt, which is water-soluble. People snort the powder or dissolve it into an injectable solution.

Crack cocaine is created by processing cocaine powder with baking soda or ammonia and water and then heating the solution to remove the hydrochloride salt. This results in a smokable freebase form of cocaine that is even more addictive than powdered cocaine.

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Is Cocaine Addictive?

According to estimates from NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), 15% of adults in the United States have tried cocaine at least once.

Regardless of the form cocaine comes in or the route of administration, addiction can rapidly develop. This may involve physical dependence, psychological addiction, or both. Habitual use of cocaine will prompt cravings for the euphoric effects of the drug and a compulsion to use more of the substance.

As tolerance to cocaine builds, you will require more of the drug to deliver the same effects. Sustained cocaine abuse will bring about changes to the function and structure of your brain, making it more challenging to resist subsequent cravings for cocaine.

For most people who abuse cocaine, psychological dependence on the drug becomes more problematic than any symptoms of physical withdrawal. This issue can be addressed during inpatient or outpatient treatment.

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Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction signs can be grouped as physical, psychological, and behavioral.

Physical cocaine abuse symptoms

  • Persistent nosebleeds
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Restlessness
  • High energy levels
  • Raised body temperature
  • Hypertension
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Blacking out
  • Breathing problems
  • Diminished appetite
  • Pronounced weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Tolerance
  • Heart attack

Psychological cocaine abuse symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Excessive confidence
  • Mood swings
  • Fleeting euphoria
  • Agitation
  • Psychosis

Psychological cocaine abuse symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Excessive confidence
  • Mood swings
  • Fleeting euphoria
  • Agitation
  • Psychosis

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Stages of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction, like any other substance use disorder, is a progressive condition that goes through several stages. These stages can vary from person to person, but they typically include:

This is the initial stage where someone tries cocaine for the first time, whether out of curiosity, to self-medicate, or due to peer pressure. The person may use the drug occasionally without experiencing any significant adverse outcomes.

During this stage of cocaine abuse, a person starts using cocaine more frequently and may begin to experience some negative consequences like financial problems, relationship issues, or health complications.

At this stage, a person may start using cocaine in higher doses or more frequently, leading to increased risks of addiction, overdose, and other health complications

At this stage, a person becomes physically and often psychologically dependent on cocaine, and their ability to function normally without the drug is compromised. Signs of cocaine abuse may be apparent to friends and family members. They will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using cocaine.

This is the most advanced stage of cocaine addiction, characterized by a loss of control over cocaine use and ongoing use despite experiencing significant negative consequences such as job loss, financial ruin, relationship breakdowns, or health problems.

Dangers of Cocaine Dependence

Cocaine dependence, like any form of substance dependence, can lead to significant risks and potential harm, both physical and mental. Here are some of the main dangers of cocaine dependence:

Cocaine can cause an array of health problems, from heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory failure to seizures and other life-threatening conditions. Long-term cocaine use can also damage the brain, liver, kidneys, and other organs, leading to chronic health issues.

The longer you use cocaine, the more likely you are to develop an addiction. Cocaine addiction can be challenging to overcome and can result in long-term consequences.

Cocaine dependence can cause significant strain on personal relationships, leading to conflicts, trust issues, and even breakup or divorce.

Cocaine use can be expensive, and dependence can lead to significant financial problems, including debt, job loss, and homelessness.

Cocaine use is illegal, and dependence may lead to legal problems, including arrests, fines, and imprisonment.

Cocaine dependence can inflame existing mental health issues or trigger new ones, including depression, anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis.

Cocaine dependence increases the risk of potentially fatal overdose. Overdose symptoms include seizures, respiratory failure, heart attack, and coma.

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People have tried cocaine at least once
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People have a cocaine addiction

Cocaine Abuse Stats

The following cocaine abuse statistics from SAMHSA’s latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that:

  • 40.9 million over-18s in the U.S. reported using cocaine at least once.
  • 1.8 million U.S. adults reported past-month cocaine use in 2021.
  • 1.4 million over-18s satisfied the DSM criteria for cocaine addiction (stimulant use disorder) in the same year

NIDA’s 2021 Monitoring the Future Survey shows that:

  • 0.2% of 8th graders in the U.S. reported past-year cocaine use in 2021.
  • 0.6% of 10th graders in the U.S. reported past-year cocaine use in 2021.
  • 1.2% of 12th graders in the U.S. reported past-year cocaine use in 2021.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Ohio Community Health

If this guide to cocaine abuse symptoms has given you cause for concern, reach out to Ohio Community Health for help addressing stimulant use disorder.

The earlier you pick up on the symptoms of cocaine abuse and engage with treatment, the more seamless your recovery journey will be.

We specialize in the intensive outpatient treatment of cocaine addiction. Engage with personalized treatment that may include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies
  • Aftercare

Call admissions today at (877) 679-2132 for immediate help addressing cocaine addiction.







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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn