Cocaine Dependence

Cocaine dependence has been commonplace for decades. It remains the recreational drug of choice for people from all walks of life and its damaging effects have led to long-term addiction, permanent damage to the heart, and even death. 

Getting clean from cocaine, like any addiction, is no easy task. The team at Aspen can help you on your journey with support, knowledge, and trust.

What is cocaine dependence?

Cocaine is a drug that acts as a nervous system stimulant by entering the brain’s neural pathways (highways in the brain that send signals all over the bond), creating the feeling of being highly alert, energized, and in a state of blissful happiness.

Its pleasurable effects make the development of cocaine dependence quite sudden.

Am I dependent on cocaine?

Cocaine use causes a sudden and swift increase in dopamine (a natural chemical in the brain that creates a sense of happiness) in the brain for a short time.

Some signs of cocaine dependence have been known to be a lack of interest in sleeping, eating, and increasing the ability to think or work at a much faster pace.

As many users increase how often they use cocaine, they need more cocaine to reach that same feeling of euphoria. This drug dependence can eventually lead to adverse side effects on physical health, mental well-being, and higher addictive behaviors.

Repeatedly using cocaine can permanently change a person’s brain chemistry, such as the parts of the brain that feel happiness, the ability to absorb memories, and decision-making skills.

As time goes on, someone who shows signs of cocaine abuse may find themselves unable to control their urges of mental or physical dependence on cocaine, which can lead to the risk of overdosing. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has studied the different signs of cocaine dependence which are listed below.

Psychological effects of cocaine use disorders include:

  • paranoia, panic attacks, hallucinations
  • aggression, irritability, anxiety
  • depression, impaired judgment
  • repetitive or abnormal behaviors

Physical effects of cocaine use disorders include:

  • unhealthy weight loss
  • increased heart rate increased blood pressure
  • nausea, abdominal pain
  • headaches, chest pain
  • heart arrhythmia, heart attack
  • seizure, stroke

Cocaine addiction is also associated with medical conditions that include:

  •  respiratory diseases
  •  weakened immune system
  • hepatitis
  • gangrene of the bowels

What are the possible causes of cocaine dependence?

Any individual who is regularly using cocaine risks the chance of becoming addicted. Other risk factors that increase your chances of being cocaine-dependent are:

  • family history of drug dependence
  • family history of alcohol dependence
  • mental health issues, such as depression

When should I consider getting clean from cocaine dependence?

Cocaine dependence, like any addiction, is a complicated disease that involves the physical health, mental well-being, environmental factors, and social relationships of family and friends.

Below is a list of different cocaine addiction treatment types and the methods used to help those with cocaine dependence symptoms.


1.      Treatment Facilities

Treatment facilities function to cover all aspects of the causes of cocaine dependence. Programs like these tend to last for several weeks to a year, including support groups, vocational rehab, and ongoing therapy.

2.      Behavior Treatment

Behavior treatments have recently produced some positive results by helping people manage their cocaine dependence. These treatment plans can provide patients with outpatient treatment plans or inpatient residential programs.

Both of these behavior treatment types focus on intervening in addictive behavior using medications. One of the reasons for the success of behavior treatment plans is that when goals related to lowering cocaine use, patients are rewarded, which helps to teach approaches to avoid past addictive behaviors.

3.      Medications

At present, there are no medications that are available to help fight cocaine dependence. Still, other medicines, such as antidepressants, can help fight depression or any other negative side effects with the treatment of cocaine addiction.

4.      Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapy treatment plans help overcome cocaine addiction using tools such as exercise, hypnosis, acupuncture, and different types of herbs. Research is still ongoing to prove how helpful these treatment types are for patients.

 What are some signs of withdrawal symptoms of cocaine dependence?

Cocaine dependence is not a simple disease. Like many addictions, it’s complex, requiring long-term treatment.

There are many signs of cocaine abuse or addiction that appear in the short term:

  • a feeling of “jitters” or restlessness
  • irritability, anxiety, paranoia
  • decreased appetite for sleep or food
  • a temporary sense of intense happiness or pleasure

Some other signs of cocaine dependence can show up as long-term effects:

  • headaches, loss of smell
  • extreme weight loss, mood swings
  • movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease
  •  seizures, severe paranoia
  • auditory hallucinations
  • irregular heartbeat, death by overdose

Signs of cocaine dependence have short-term effects that are shown to disappear within a day or two of using the drug. However, the long-term effects are permanent and irreversible, which can be problems around physical dependence or the risk of overdose.

Issues with cocaine dependence include a range of withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Increased tolerance for cocaine, needing higher amounts each time it’s used
  • Unable to control or reduce urges of using cocaine
  • Constant use even at the risk of hurting a person’s health
  • Relationships, quality of life, and employment slowly fall apart
  • Reckless use with money to satisfy dependence
  • Change in personality – increased anxiety, irritability

How do I get help for cocaine dependence?

Your journey to recovery does not have to be done alone. There are many free, confidential resources available to find support:

Talk to a recovery professional at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline: 800-662-HELP (4357)

If you or you know someone fighting cocaine dependence, there are many treatment options available that have medical professionals to guide you or your loved one every step of the way.

Aspen Behavioral Health, located in sunny West Palm Beach, is a rehab center that helps people regroup, detox, and find support as they start their journey to sobriety. Take that first step and talk to one of our Aspen Behavioral Health specialists today! 


US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “The Neurobiology of Cocaine Addiction”, December, 2005, Retrieved from www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851032/ 

Erickson Gabbey, Amber, “What is Cocaine Addiction?”, Healthline, December 16, 2016, Reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph. D. CRNP, Retrieved from www.healthline.com/health/cocaine-and-related-disorders 

Dackis. Charles A., “The Neurobiology of Cocaine Dependence and Its Clinical Implications”, Psychiatric Times, March 1, 2007, Retrieved from www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/neurobiology-cocaine-dependence-and-its-clinical-implications 

American Addiction Centers Editorial Staff, “Cocaine Addiction”, American Addiction Centers, July 23, 2021, Retrieved from drugabuse.com/drugs/cocaine/ 


My Loved One Is


How Do I Get Them


24/7 Confidential Helpline

Have Any Questions?


Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on email