Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

Youth Care Treatment Center and school has helped teens with cocaine addiction all over the United States for 30 years. Our unique approach is based off of solid morals and beliefs to help adolescents be successful in turning their lives around.

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Learn about cocaine addiction and substance abuse

Cocaine is a strong, dangerous, and extremely addictive drug. Derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant, this drug typically appears as either a white powder or rock crystals. The powder type of cocaine is most typically snorted, while the rock crystal is abused through heating the substance then inhaling the vapors. The immediate effects of cocaine abuse include temporary feelings of self-confidence, energy, and numbness to pain.

Since the effects of cocaine are powerful but do not last long, users tend to want to abuse the substance over and over, often taking larger doses as they do so. Repeated cocaine abuse can easily lead to addiction, which is connected to a number of dangerous outcomes. Thankfully, however, cocaine addiction is treatable. With the correct professional intervention, individuals can defeat their desire to abuse cocaine, and can work to address the co-occurring issues that might have lead to or resulted from their cocaine abuse.


Cocaine addiction statistics

Experts report that about 1% of American adolescents and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 have used cocaine at least one time, with roughly 0.2% of this group of individuals engaging in cocaine abuse within the past 30 days. Among high school seniors, the rate of past-year cocaine abuse is about 2.5%.

The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports that cocaine abuse is the most common cause of drug-related emergency room visits in the country. Within the most recent year for which statistics were made available, cocaine use caused more than 450,000 emergency room admissions.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for cocaine addiction

The development of a cocaine dependency often occurs because of a number of genetic and environmental influences, including:

Genetic: Having a close relative, such as a parent or a sibling, who has a cocaine addiction greatly increases one’s chances of struggling with similar issues. If one or both parents have battled with substance us disorders, the risk of a child having a drug problem can be three to eight times more likely than in those who do not have this same familial background. An enormous amount of research shows that a family history of mental illness also increases one’s risk variation for developing a cocaine addiction.

Environmental: Individuals who are exposed to drug use during childhood or adolescence are at greater risk for participating in drug-related behavior than those who lived in drug-free households. In addition, a parent’s troubles with mental illness can cause a stressful environment to develop for children and adolescents, which can encourage them to turn to the abuse of cocaine as a means of coping with the emotional upset they are facing. Living in poverty, experiencing trauma, and enduring chronic stress can all serve as environmental factors for the development of a cocaine addiction.

Risk Factors:

  • Living or working in a high-stress environment
  • Experiencing trauma
  • Family history of substance abuse and/or mental illness
  • Ineffective parental oversight
  • Personal struggle with mental illness or prior substance abuse
  • Associating with friends, colleagues, or other peers who engage in cocaine abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction

Cocaine abuse is not always consistently obvious, however the following are typical symptoms that a young individual might display if he or she is dealing with a cocaine addiction:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Borrowing or stealing money
  • Hyperactivity
  • Rapid speech patterns
  • Unprovoked outbursts of anger or aggression
  • Reckless, risky, or otherwise dangerous behaviors
  • Lying about one’s whereabouts, activities, and associates

Physical symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • High body temperature
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Runny or bleeding nose

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Psychosis
  • Irritability
  • Euphoria
  • Overconfidence
  • Poor decision-making capabilities

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Loss of interest in issues and events that were previously important
  • Irritability
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Inability to experience pleasure without drugs


Effects of cocaine addiction

Below are some of the many devastating effects that cocaine abuse and addiction can cause on a young individual’s life:

  • Job loss and chronic unemployment
  • High blood pressure
  • Damage to kidneys and liver
  • Financial ruin
  • Academic failure
  • Heart damage
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Stroke
  • Lost interpersonal relationships

Co-Occurring Disorders

Cocaine addiction and co-occurring disorders

Many young individuals who battle with a substance use disorder connected to cocaine might also be struggling with other co-occurring mental health conditions, including:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depressive disorders
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Cocaine withdrawal and overdose

Effects of cocaine withdrawal: Entirely stopping or dramatically ceasing one’s cocaine use after the body has grown dependent on it can lead to the development of a number of upsetting withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Depression
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Strong cravings for cocaine
  • Anxiety and paranoia

Effects of cocaine overdose: Cocaine overdose, which can be deadly, can occur after a young individual abuses this drug just one time. If a person shows the following signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose, he or she will require immediate medical attention:

  • Delirium
  • Breathing problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Extremely high blood pressure and/or body temperature
  • Stroke

Marks of Quality Care
  • AdvancED
  • American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM)
  • National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs (NATSAP)
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval
  • The Jason Foundation

As a parent, I highly recommend Youth Care. We were involved in all aspects of my child's treatment plan, the staff provided a safe and friendly environment, we enjoyed parent day participation and, most importantly, the therapy my child received while at Youth Care was exceptional - pretty much life-changing. My child made more progress there than had been made in years of therapy elsewhere.

– Michelle S.