The Effects of Cocaine: What Does Cocaine To Your Nose?

Picture of Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

The Effects of Cocaine: What Does Cocaine To Your Nose?

Cocaine is a powerful - and illegal - drug. It is extremely prevalent in the UK. In fact, according to the Office for National Statistics, 4.0% of adults between 16 and 24 years have used powder cocaine.

This addictive drug can cause damage to your health - among the many consequences of cocaine abuse, the impact it can have on your nose is significant. But what exactly does cocaine do to your nose?

That’s what we’ll be exploring in this blog post. Read on to learn more about the effects of cocaine, and how it can impact your nose. We’ll also be exploring the immediate effects of cocaine, as well as the long-term nose damage it can cause.

Cocaine - What is It?

Cocaine, also known as ‘coke’, is a stimulant drug that is often found in a white powder form. It's made from the leaves of the coca plant.

Cocaine usually comes as a white powder that people can snort, inject, or rub on their gums. It's known for its stimulating effects such as increased energy and alertness.

However, cocaine also carries significant risks. Regular cocaine use can lead to addiction, damaging physical and mental health. In the UK, cocaine is illegal, and possession or use can result in criminal charges. Seeking help is crucial for those struggling with cocaine addiction.

Snorting cocaine can lead to profound effects on the nasal passages and the surrounding nasal tissues.

What About Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a potent and highly addictive drug that's derived from regular cocaine. It gets its name from the ‘cracking’ sound it makes when heated and smoked.

Unlike powdered cocaine, crack is usually sold in small, crystalline rocks. When smoked, it delivers an intense, short-lived high, which often leads to compulsive use.

Crack cocaine affects the brain rapidly, causing a surge of euphoria and increased energy. However, these effects quickly fade, leaving the user craving more.

This craving can lead to a destructive cycle of addiction, often accompanied by physical and mental health problems.

Crack cocaine use carries serious legal consequences in the UK and can have devastating effects on individuals and communities.

It's essential to seek help and support for those struggling with crack addiction to break free from its grip. This is something we can help with at Help4Addiction.

Cocaine’s Immediate Effects on the Nose

Cocaine can have both short-term effects and long-term effects on your nose. Here are some of the more instant effects that cocaine can have.

Numbing Sensation

Cocaine is known for its numbing properties. When it comes into contact with the nasal lining, it causes an instant numbing sensation. This numbing effect is one reason why it was previously used as a local anaesthetic in medical procedures.


Cocaine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it narrows blood vessels when it enters the bloodstream. When snorted, it constricts the blood vessels in the nasal passages, reducing blood flow and causing the mucous membranes to shrink.

Because cocaine use can cause decreased blood vessels in the nose, many cocaine users report experiencing a stuffy or blocked nose after using cocaine.


Cocaine is a harsh substance that can irritate the delicate tissues inside the nose. Cocaine users may experience burning, itching, or even nosebleeds as a result of this irritation.


Another immediate effect of cocaine use is inflammation. Repeated abuse of cocaine can lead to inflammation of the nasal passages. This inflammation can make it even more difficult to breathe through the nose - and may contribute to a runny or congested nose.

Cocaine’s Long-Term Effects on the Nose

While the immediate effects of cocaine on the nose can be uncomfortable, it's the long-term consequences that are most concerning.

Prolonged and excessive cocaine use can lead to severe damage to the nasal cavity and associated structures. For example, one of the most severe cocaine effects on the nose is that it can cause nasal deformities that require surgical reconstruction.

Perforated Septum

The nasal septum is the thin wall of cartilage that separates the nostrils. Cocaine abuse can cause septal perforation over time. This is a hole or opening between the nostrils.

This can cause not only cosmetic issues but also difficulties with breathing and a whistling sound when breathing through the nose.

Tissue Damage

Chronic cocaine abuse can severely damage the mucous membranes that line the nasal passages. This can lead to chronic inflammation, frequent nosebleeds, and a persistent runny nose.

Reduced Sense of Smell

One of the most common long-term issues with cocaine use is a reduced sense of smell. Over time, cocaine can damage the olfactory nerve, which is responsible for our sense of smell. Consistent use can lead to a diminished ability to smell and identify odours.

Sinus Infections

Frequent and long-term cocaine abusers are more prone to sinus infections. This is because of the damage to the nasal passages. These infections can be painful and require medical treatment.

Nasal Collapse

In extreme cases (for example, years of chronic cocaine abuse), the nasal cartilage can weaken to the point of collapse. This can result in a misshapen and a collapsed nose.

This condition, known as saddle nose, can be disfiguring and require nasal reconstruction. Nasal reconstruction procedures can be costly, and painful. Plastic surgery can be avoided by detoxing from cocaine and overcoming cocaine addiction.

Treatment For Cocaine Addiction

The first step in overcoming cocaine addiction is often detoxification, where the drug is safely removed from the body.

Medical supervision may be necessary during a cocaine detox to manage withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage cravings and prevent relapse.

Inpatient or intensive outpatient rehabilitation programmes for cocaine addiction can provide a structured and supportive environment throughout your recovery from drug addiction.

During cocaine rehab, you will benefit from addiction therapy. Behavioural therapies such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you to identify and change the patterns of thinking and behaviour that contribute to your addiction.

After you have completed cocaine rehab, joining support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) can be helpful. Support groups provide a valuable source of encouragement and understanding from others who have gone through similar experiences.

Overcome Cocaine Addiction Today

Substance use disorders such as cocaine addiction are serious and potentially life-threatening. If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine abuse, it's essential to seek help as soon as possible.

The cocaine damage caused, not only to the nose but also to the overall health of an individual, can be irreversible without intervention.

Remember that addiction to cocaine is not just a matter of willpower, but a complex medical condition that requires treatment and support.

We can connect you with the most suitable cocaine rehab clinic for you. For example, if you want to recover from cocaine addiction at a luxury rehab clinic, we can get you connected with a luxury rehab provider. You can discover the signs it's time for cocaine rehab here.

Likewise, if you have friends, family or loved ones who are dealing with cocaine addiction, point them in our direction. We can ensure they receive the cocaine treatment they deserve.

You don’t have to deal with cocaine addiction alone. There is hope, and with the right treatment and support, recovery is possible.

FREE Call Back Service

Request a FREE call back and speak to our support team – we’re ready to help you get on the road to recovery.
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

The Cost Of Rehab

Are you unsure if you can afford addiction rehabilitation? Learn how to get support from private and funded rehab options.