Cocaine – also known as coke, snow, powder and blow – is an extremely addictive street drug derived from the leaves of the coco plant, which is originally native to South America and is now cultivated all over the world.
Cocaine is an incredibly powerful stimulant that is often referred to as a ‘party drug’ due to the intense euphoria experienced by many who take it. Many cocaine users combine it with alcohol, heroin or ecstasy, while dealers frequently add amphetamine and even anaesthetic to certain batches. It’s often difficult to know exactly which ingredients are hidden within a bag of cocaine.
Every hit of cocaine that you take is a risk, and regular ingestion of this drug can lead to a severe and long-lasting addiction that has a sweeping negative effect on every aspect of your life.
What is cocaine?
Cocaine is one of the most commonly used drugs in the UK second only to cannabis, with 8.7% of adults aged between 16-59 admitting to using cocaine. 
Most often depicted as a white powder, cocaine can be snorted or injected in this form. Crack cocaine is created by combining powdered cocaine with another substance and then boiling it to create a solid substance. In this form, crack cocaine can be heated and smoked providing an even more intense and addictive high.
Once added to medicines and popular products such as Coca Cola, cocaine is now considered a Class A drug in the UK with serious legal penalties handed out to anyone who is found guilty of making, selling and using it. However it is legal to manufacture cocaine for medical use and the UK is currently the world’s biggest exporter of medical cocaine, with 57kg of the drug exported in 2016.
Can you become addicted to cocaine?
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug, with a 2017 study reporting a 23% increase in the number of people in the UK seeking help for cocaine addiction. 
Both physically and psychologically addictive, cocaine is such an intense stimulant that even taking it just once can result in a long-term addiction. A number of people use cocaine on nights out as they believe it pairs well with alcohol and other drugs, and this can result in a cocaine addict going out to clubs and parties more frequently to mask the severity of their addiction.
Many cocaine users will ‘binge’ on the drug, meaning that they will attempt to delay withdrawal symptoms by ingesting it multiple times within a short space of time. This is extremely dangerous and can lead to overdose and even death.
Despite cocaine’s reputation as a fun party drug, this white powdered substance has the power to completely destroy lives with one in five recreational users estimated to develop a dependency on cocaine.
In 2019, there were 708 cocaine-related deaths in the UK – an increase of 71 from the previous year.  Unfortunately, the rates of cocaine poisoning have been on a steep upward trend for the past few years.
Why do people become addicted to cocaine?
Cocaine causes a build-up of dopamine in the brain leading to feelings of intense euphoria and pleasure. Many cocaine users report experiencing a burst of energy after ingesting the drug, and these pleasant sensations can be addictive. After a cocaine high wears off, the resulting comedown can feel so unbearable that they feel the need to ingest more in order to avoid experiencing a comedown.
Studies have also suggested that prolonged exposure to cocaine can actually alter your genes and brain structure, making it even more difficult to function without cocaine in your system as the brain is no longer able to produce dopamine on its own.
Cocaine users can also build up a tolerance to the drug and can find it difficult to experience feelings of pleasure without using cocaine. This can lead to depression and suicidal thoughts, with the person feeling as though they need to ingest cocaine in order to experience pleasure and happiness.
Unfortunately, cocaine users can also become highly sensitive to the drug, meaning that just a small amount of cocaine can trigger convulsions and other symptoms. This can increase the risk of overdose and lead to a higher chance of long-term health effects.
What are the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction?
Cocaine is an extremely habit-forming drug that in many cases leads to addiction. Cocaine addiction can result in a number of physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that severely impact our general day-to-day lives and overall health.
A typical sign of cocaine addiction is when the individual is unable to reduce or completely stop their cocaine intake for either a short or long period of time, despite experiencing negative consequences due to their use of this drug. They may feel ‘out of control’ and that they need to use cocaine in order to function well at work or in their social life, but vehemently deny that they have a problem.
Physical symptoms of cocaine addiction
- Frequent sniffing and/or a runny nose
- White powder residue around nose, particularly in the nostrils
- Elevated heart rate
- An increase in body temperature
- Regular nosebleeds
- Little desire or need to sleep
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Sweating more than usual
- Problems with swallowing
Psychological symptoms of cocaine addiction
- Extreme mood swings
- Feeling agitated and irritable
- A sudden burst of overconfidence
- Feeling euphoric
- Inability to sit still, feeling restless
- Psychosis and paranoia
- Unable to make decisions, or making poor decisions
Behavioural symptoms of cocaine addiction
- Engaging in risky behaviours such as driving too fast or having unprotected sex
- A large increase in porn consumption
- Spending money on escorts
- Impulsive behaviour
- Lying or being vague about activities and general location throughout the day or night
- An inability to manage finances, often resorting to borrowing or stealing money
Crack cocaine addiction presents in a similar form to cocaine use, but the symptoms are more intense and become apparent within a shorter timeframe. This is because crack cocaine enters the bloodstream much faster, thus leading to a higher risk of overdosing.
Symptoms of crack cocaine addiction
- Increased appetite, feeling hungrier than usual
- Dilated pupils
- Feeling more alert and awake
- A burst of intense energy
- Feelings of extreme euphoria
- Extreme tiredness and fatigue when the drug wears off
What are the long-term risks of cocaine addiction?
While the short-term effects of cocaine addiction can be damaging, the long-term effects can be even more severe and greatly reduce the individual’s quality of life. In some cases, their life can even be shortened due to these effects.
Long-term risks of cocaine addiction
- Damaged cartilage in the nose
- Higher risk of contracting an infectious disease such as HIV or hepatitis C
- Ulcerations and/or tears in the gastrointestinal tract
- Chest pains and/or heart attack
- Increased risk of stroke
- Liver and kidney damage
- Trouble breathing
- Bleeding on the brain
- Neurological problems
Recovering from a cocaine addiction
It is possible to recover from even the most severe and long-lasting cocaine addiction. It can be difficult to take that first step and decide to stop using cocaine, but with the wealth of help and guidance available these days there’s no better time to begin the recovery process.
If a person has been dependent on cocaine for a long period of time, it’s likely that they will experience one or more withdrawal symptoms. However, even a person who has not been using cocaine for a long time can also experience these symptoms. The intensity usually corresponds to how much cocaine the person takes and the amount of time they have been dependent on the drug.
Withdrawal from cocaine addiction can be unpleasant and uncomfortable. The symptoms usually appear within hours of quitting and can last for several months. However, the good news is that these symptoms will eventually pass.
It’s recommended that professional medical supervision and guidance is utilised when attempting to recover from cocaine addiction. This can reduce the chances of future relapse and help ensure a full recovery with support for people who are struggling with intense cravings.
Cocaine addiction withdrawal symptoms
Withdrawal from cocaine addiction can involve a number of potential symptoms. These include:
- Feeling irritable and agitated
- Anxiety and depression
- Restlessness and the ability to sit still
- Suicidal thoughts
- Extreme suspicion or paranoia
- Lack of pleasure
- Tiredness and fatigue
Cocaine is not an easy drug to quit, but it is possible to make a full recovery from cocaine addiction. It’s important to remember that there is hope out there, and thousands of people who were once in your shoes are now living happy, fulfilled lives free from the heavy chains of addiction.
No one needs to face cocaine addiction and withdrawal alone. Get in touch with our team today – the chances of long-term recovery are much greater under the guidance of experienced medical professionals. We can help put you in touch with the right team for you.