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Cocaine Abuse Symptoms, Signs and Addiction Treatment

Cocaine usually tops the list when it comes to common illicit drugs. It is a powerful stimulant that is frequently abused and is highly addictive. Users typically snort the drug in powder form, but it can also be turned into a liquid and injected or into a rock and smoked. Cocaine users typically experience a sense of euphoria immediately after taking the drug. This blissful feeling is what makes users want to take the drug again and again, which leads to abuse and addiction.

Cocaine is not physically addictive, meaning there are no physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it, as is the case with many other illicit drugs. This is one of the most misleading cocaine abuse facts, because many people think this means they can't become addicted to it. A study by the Substance Abuse and Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) reports that up to half of drug-related visits to emergency rooms in the United States are related to cocaine abuse. Even casual use can lead to a cocaine problem, but help is available, so call 1-800-943-0566 for more information.

Cocaine Abuse Quiz question 1
What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful and short-acting stimulant drug produced from the coca plant. It can produce sensations of energy and euphoria, and is highly addictive with a heavy potential for abuse. It is most commonly snorted, smoked, or injected. Chronic use of cocaine can lead to cardiovascular problems as well as infections and other issues associated with injection drug use. Cocaine is an illicit drug in most countries and is considered to have no medical use. (source)

Other names for cocaine

  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Blow
  • Nose candy
  • Snow
  • White lady (source)
  • Horse (source)

Signs and Symptoms
The most obvious signs of cocaine abuse are a strong desire or increased need for the drug. If you find yourself constantly thinking about cocaine, regularly taking it and going to extreme lengths to get it, you may have a cocaine problem. Other symptoms of cocaine abuse and addiction occur when the drug begins to have a negative impact on the user's life. This can include interference with your job or school and problems with relationships. Other common signs of cocaine abuse can include:

  • A need to increase the dosage to get the same effect
  • Suffering from mild withdrawal symptoms when the high wears off
  • Difficulty with stopping use of the drug
  • Using the drug more frequently and using more of it

If you or someone you know exhibits any of these symptoms of cocaine abuse, support is available. You can call 1-800-943-0566 to find out how to help a Cocaine Addict.

Quotes from cocaine addicts

“My friends and I would go to the mall after school; we said we were getting chicken fingers, but I'd meet the drug dealer and spend $50 on a gram, then a longtime housekeeper would pick us up. We didn't even have our licenses, but there we were, doing coke at each other's houses. The rest of my friends' moms went through their stuff, but my mother trusted me, so I hid everyone's stash in my closet. But because I had access to it, I started doing coke by myself. I'd get high in the school bathroom or at home before writing a paper.” (source)

How many people have used cocaine in their lifetime?

United States, aged 12+

Lifetime cocaine usage in the US remains high: over 1 in 10 people say they've tried cocaine.

How many people used cocaine in the last year?

United States, aged 12+

Although the number of people who used cocaine in the previous year dropped from 2012 to 2013, it still exceeds 4 million. If this were a city, it would be the second-largest in the US.

How many people used cocaine in the last month?

United States, aged 12+

In 2013, over 1.5 million people reported having used cocaine in the past month. Together, they would comprise a city larger than Phoenix, Arizona.

How many youth use cocaine?

United States

The number of youth in the US using cocaine has declined dramatically since 2009. Sadly, hundreds of thousands of children still use cocaine yearly - including thousands aged only 12-13.


Cocaine Abuse Quiz question 2
Effects of Cocaine Abuse
Taking cocaine causes different reactions in everyone, and the severity of the physical effects will differ depending on several factors. The purity of the drug, how frequently you take cocaine and your physical health all contribute to how your body will react to cocaine. While the effects of Cocaine use can vary, the typical reaction to taking this drug includes the following symptoms:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Constriction of blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Malnourishment
  • Severe paranoia
  • Psychiatric problems

In some cases, severe health problems arise after a person takes cocaine, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Sudden death

Any of these serious health issues can occur when you take cocaine, even if it's your first time using the drug.

Cocaine Abuse Quiz question 3
Cocaine Abuse Treatment
Cocaine addiction is more psychological than physical, so treatment for cocaine problems focuses largely on changing the mind of the addict. As the draw to use this drug is so powerful, treatment at an inpatient cocaine rehab center is often the most effective way to overcome a cocaine addiction. Cocaine withdrawal does not cause severe physical symptoms, but a variety of mental and emotional difficulties can arise when you stop taking it, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Feeling agitated or restless
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Chronic headaches

Cocaine Abuse Quiz question 4

Cocaine rehab centers can help you deal with the psychological symptoms of stopping the drug, while teaching you ways to avoid further abuse. Treating a cocaine addiction involves interrupting and redirecting the thoughts and actions that lead to using and abusing the drug. Cocaine rehab programs provide both individual and group therapy designed to help you figure out why you started abusing the drug in the first place. Once you admit and examine the cause of your cocaine problem, rehab program staff will help you learn new ways of dealing with those feelings without turning to drugs.

Google Trends: Searches for “cocaine”

Overall, the most searches in the US for "cocaine" tend to occur in highly populated coastal areas such as Florida and New York.

Street price of cocaine

United States

Powder Cocaine
@ 0.25 pure gram

From 2000 to 2010, the street price of powder cocaine in the US has fluctuated substantially, from a high of $256 for 1/4 gram in 2001, to a low of $164 in 2005 and 2006.

How much are people spending on cocaine?

United States

Overall spending on cocaine in the US has decreased by nearly half from 2000 to 2010.

Average monthly spending on cocaine

United States

As might be expected, those who use cocaine for 21 or more days a month spend much more on the drug than those who only use it for 4-10 days. In 2009, someone using cocaine for 21 or more days a month could be expected to spend an average of more than $1,700 a month.

How much cocaine is consumed every year?

United States

Since 2000, the total cocaine consumption in the United States has fallen from a high of 327 metric tons in 2005 to only 145 tons in 2010.

Amount of cocaine seized

Coca leaf

Cocaine (base and salts)


Select a year and type of cocaine-related substance, and mouse over the map above to see which countries had the most seizures of coca leaf, cocaine, and crack from 2004 to 2009.

Global cocaine seizures (unadjusted for purity)

Total cocaine seizures


Globally, the amount of cocaine seized has grown by almost two and a half times from 1990 to 2008.

United States DEA domestic seizures


Source: DEA (STRIDE)

The DEA's seizures of cocaine have ranged from 118,128 kilograms in 2005, to only 22,512 kilograms in 2013.

Cocaine seized entering the United States

The vast majority of cocaine seized entering the US is taken from the nation's southwest border, amounting to anywhere from 15,000 to 28,000 kilograms of cocaine from 2006 to 2010.

United States DEA annual production quotas for cocaine

The amount of cocaine the DEA allows to be produced for research purposes has ranged from 286 kilograms in 2006 and 2007, to 216 in 2010 and 2012.

Countries using the most cocaine

Hover over the map above to see which countries have the greatest proportions of the population using cocaine.

Annual market size for cocaine

The size of the global cocaine market in 2008 was $88 billion altogether, and the US cocaine market alone in 2010 was nearly a third of that size.

Cocaine Abuse Quiz question 5
Cocaine Statistics
Older research claimed that cocaine use peaked in the 1980s and started to decline after that time. More recent SAMHSA studies showed that cocaine use began to rise in the 1990s, and today, it is the second most popular illegal substance used in America, behind marijuana. An estimated 15 percent of Americans aged 12 and older have used this drug at least once. That's approximately 37 million people.

Credit: 10List

Cocaine Abuse Quiz question 6
Teen Cocaine Abuse
More than 8 percent of high school seniors said they used cocaine in the past year, according to a SAMHSA study. Cocaine abuse is most prevalent among older age brackets, with 18- to 25-year-olds being the most common users of this substance. It is estimated that cocaine use among high school sophomores declined during 2010, from 2.3 percent to 1.6 percent; however, cocaine abuse facts are still a vital part of high school drug education programs.
Resources, Articles and More Information
Cocaine has always been one of the most commonly abused drugs, and government studies over the years show that cocaine problems are still prevalent in society. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and SAMHSA are both valuable sources for information and articles about cocaine abuse. For more information about cocaine abuse and treatment, call 1-800-943-0566 today.

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.