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Cocaine Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

Cocaine is a potent, highly addictive stimulant drug. It is a popular recreational drug because it causes undesirable effects like elevated mood, increased energy, and enhanced motivation. People may also experience heightened concentration, more ease in social situations, and fewer feelings of insecurity or shyness.

In 2021, more than 4.8 million people ages 12 and older tried cocaine, and about 1.4 million had a cocaine use disorder.[1]

Cocaine abuse can lead to addiction. It’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction and seek treatment immediately. Knowing what to expect during treatment may help you get the most out of your time and ease into the routines of rehab more easily.

Understanding Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that is derived from the coca plant, which is native to South America.[2] It is a highly addictive substance and is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse and addiction.

Addiction is defined as the loss of control over your substance use. People who develop cocaine addiction will experience intense cravings and urges to use cocaine and will continue to use it even when it causes dire consequences. But people who are addicted to cocaine often cannot choose to stop using the drug because their bodies and brain are dependent on it to function normally.

Addiction is a risk with substances that affect your brain’s dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) involved in pleasure and reward. Using cocaine causes a rush of dopamine in your brain. Over time, your brain can become dependent on this rush. Cocaine addiction can happen quickly because it affects the brain’s functioning the first time you use it.

The Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine usually appears as a white crystalline powder, although it can also be found in a solid rock crystal form known as crack cocaine. It can be ingested through various routes, including snorting, smoking, or injecting.

Cocaine users may exhibit changes in their mood, appearance, and behavior. Cocaine primarily affects the brain by increasing the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This surge in dopamine leads to feelings of euphoria, increased energy, heightened focus, and confidence. Users may experience a sense of increased alertness, talkativeness, and insomnia.

Some of the signs of cocaine abuse include:[2]

  • Agitation
  • Increased enthusiasm and energy
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Hyperactivity
  • Muscle twitches and other involuntary movements
  • Poor focus and concentration

People may experience harmful effects of cocaine use, including heart damage. Cocaine use can damage your heart immediately and cause long-term complications, including:

  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Myocarditis (heart muscle inflammation)
  • Aortic rupture
  • Reduced overall cardiac function

Cocaine abuse may also cause other severe health issues, such as kidney damage, damage to the sinuses and throat, and neurological changes.

People who use cocaine–even recreationally–must seek treatment immediately to stop using the drug, avoid the worsening consequences of cocaine abuse, and avoid relapse.

Do I Need Cocaine Addiction Treatment?

Addiction significantly changes the way a person acts, thinks, and feels. While each person has their own unique experience with addiction, there are some common signs of cocaine addiction to watch for.

Signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Spending a lot of time and energy getting, using, and recovering from using cocaine
  • Facing financial or legal issues because of cocaine use
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Isolating from others and ignoring your relationships
  • Feeling compelled to use cocaine or thinking about it frequently
  • Letting go of hobbies and friendships
  • Needing to use more cocaine to get the desired effects
  • Wanting to stop using cocaine but feeling like you can’t
  • Using cocaine in risky situations, such as while driving or at work
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you stop using cocaine

The sooner you recognize a cocaine addiction, the earlier you can seek treatment to overcome it. If you have a loved one with signs of cocaine addiction, you may consider holding an intervention to encourage them to seek help.

Cocaine Withdrawal

When someone who uses cocaine suddenly stops, they are likely to experience a range of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms develop as the body adjusts to the absence of cocaine in its systems. Withdrawal symptoms may include:[3]

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Slow thinking
  • Intense cravings

Cocaine withdrawal is typically not dangerous, but it can be so uncomfortable that people may begin to use cocaine to relieve their symptoms. Seeking professional cocaine addiction treatment is the most effective way to stop using cocaine and learn how to avoid relapse for the rest of your life.

What Happens in Cocaine Addiction Treatment Programs?

Rehab facilities offer cocaine addiction treatment programs in both inpatient and outpatient levels of care. Before beginning a treatment program, a doctor or addiction specialist will assess your needs and recommend a level of care. Inpatient cocaine rehab is typically recommended for people with moderate to severe addictions and/or co-occurring mental health issues.

Cocaine addiction treatment happens in stages.


While cocaine withdrawal symptoms aren’t usually dangerous, they can make people very uncomfortable. A medically-supported detox program allows people to have a safe, comfortable detox by treating symptoms and providing emotional support and relaxing treatments while they go through withdrawal. During detox, symptom-specific medications can be administered to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal and manage cravings.


After completing detox, it’s critical to continue treatment. A comprehensive cocaine addiction treatment program uses evidence-based and holistic therapies to address the physical, emotional, and behavioral roots of a person’s addiction. People learn how to manage their addiction symptoms and avoid relapse.

Cocaine addiction treatment plans may include:

  • Individual behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Relapse prevention education
  • Mental health treatment
  • Medications
  • Holistic therapies like exercise, nutrition support, massage, and mindfulness


Addiction is never cured, only managed. After completing treatment, you must create and follow an aftercare plan to keep you active and engaged in your recovery. This may include attending support groups or 12-step meetings, individual counseling, or other types of support.

Start Cocaine Addiction Treatment in West Palm Beach, FL Today

At Mandala Healing Center, we inspire healing in our patients through compassionate care. Going beyond the conventional approach of cocaine detoxification, patients at our facility are inspired to fully heal in an environment designed to nourish their entire being.

Clients are taken on a journey of healing through complete immersion into evidence-based clinical modalities, multifaceted alternative therapies, and expert medical management, allowing them to fully detox and recover from cocaine addiction. Through a program of care designed to encourage change, a foundation is created that allows clients to find their higher purpose and reclaim their lives.

If you or a loved one are suffering from cocaine addiction or would like to learn more about your rehab options, please reach out to our dedicated admissions counselors today.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States? Retrieved May 2023 from
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Cocaine DrugFacts, Retrieved May 2023 from
  3. University of Florida Health: Cocaine withdrawal, Retrieved May 2023 from