Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Use

Do you think you see signs of drug use but you are not sure what drug is being used or how bad it is? If you suspect cocaine abuse by someone you care about, here are the signs of cocaine use you should watch for.

If a person is abusing powdered cocaine and they don’t want you to know, they may disappear to use the drug and then return in a very different mood. They may seem excited and act more confident and exhibit a greater sense of well-being. They may be more excited sexually and talkative. Their energy will be pumped up and they probably will not have very much appetite for food and will not have a normal sleep pattern.

Traces of white powder around a person’s nose are also a sign of cocaine use. While many people snort the drug (thus leaving the powder), some will dissolve and inject it. A few will ingest it, which can lead to severe intestinal damage.

Dilated pupils and eyes that are overly sensitive to light are symptoms of cocaine use that you can watch for. Other symptoms of cocaine use include runny noses and after long use, nosebleeds and damage to the inside of the nose. A cocaine user may also dissolve and inject the drug, in which case you might find needle marks on arms, legs, hands, feet or neck and discarded syringes left around the place cocaine is consumed.

As powder cocaine’s effects only last an hour or less, the user may leave periodically so he or she can use more of the drug.

Signs of Cocaine Use


  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose (snorting)
  • Nosebleeds (snorting)
  • Track marks (injecting)
  • Burned lips or fingers (smoking)


  • Fast heart rate
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Enlarged Heart
  • Heart attacks
  • Cardiac arrest

Mental state:

  • Euphoria
  • Overconfidence
  • Unusual excitement
  • Aggressiveness
  • Paranoia
  • Poor judgment
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

After long use or a binge:

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Intense cravings
  • Need for higher doses
  • Apathy
  • Exhaustion
  • Long periods of sleep

Crack Cocaine Causes Many of Same Signs and Symptoms

Crack cocaine is smoked. You may find small glass pipes and tiny plastic bags left behind after a person smokes crack. A crack high is similar to a powder cocaine high but it does not last as long. A crack user may go off to use more of the drug after just 10 or 15 minutes. A crack user may have burns on lips and fingers as a sign of cocaine use, because of burns from the crack pipes.

When high doses are used or the drug is used in binges, symptoms of cocaine use often include disorientation, delusions, paranoia, antisocial behavior and aggressiveness. A person who has become addicted will be driven to use more of the drug and this will become his or her priority in life over family, career, work or health.

Long-Term Signs of Cocaine Use

When a person has been using cocaine over a long time period, they are likely to suffer physical and mental deterioration. Symptoms of long-term cocaine abuse can include depression, agitation, nervousness, tiredness but unable to sleep. The person may feel seriously distressed about life without good reason. They will have strong cravings for the drug. When use has continued for a long time, tolerance for the drug increases and more of the drug is required to create an effect similar to earlier use.

If they try to discontinue use, they will experience intense cravings for the drug. They may experience a “crash” consisting of depressed moods, anxiety, irritability, apathy and long periods of sleep.

Recovery from Cocaine Addiction

The sooner a cocaine addict can be helped to leave this drug behind, the better. He or she will suffer less mental and physical damage and will no longer be at risk of being arrested or injured due to overdose or accident.

Conventional rehab programs do not have a way to reduce the sharp cravings for this drug that may plague a recovering addict. They may prescribe other drugs like benzodiazepines—addictive anti-anxiety drugs—if they make a clinical diagnosis of anxiety. In most cases, finding true recovery from addiction would relieve much of a recovering cocaine addict’s stress and anxiety.

A Thorough Detoxification at Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Centers

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program does have an effective way, that has been found and validated by medical doctors and scientific research, to address these cravings for cocaine at any one of over 35 Narconon centers around the world.

This program (10 to 12 weeks for most individuals) utilizes a healthy, drugless detoxification program called Narconon New Life Detoxification. Using a low-heat sauna, moderate daily exercise and a strict regimen of nutritional supplements, the body is able to eliminate stored drug residues. These toxic residues, lodged in fatty tissues, have been shown to be involved in triggering cravings, even years after drug use stops. This is a great relief to the recovering cocaine addict and enables him or her to overcome many of the cravings and focus on learning how to build a drug-free life from the ground up.

Cocaine in Any Form Is Very Hard on the Heart and Blood Vessels

As a strong stimulant, cocaine places severe stresses on a person’s heart and vascular system. When cocaine is used, the heart speeds up and the blood vessels constrict. This combination of effects can trigger a heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest.

Those who consume cocaine over a period of time risk an enlarged or damaged heart that no longer pumps blood efficiently. This is a very good reason to help a person recover from cocaine at a Narconon center as soon as possible.

See Also:

Clinical Review by Claire Pinelli, LADC, CCS, ICAADC, MCAP