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After cannabis, cocaine is the most widely used drug in the UK. Cocaine is a highly addictive drug – and using cocaine frequently may lead to you developing a physical dependence on the drug.

This can have detrimental effects on not only your physical health but your mental health, your relationships, your finances, and even your work.

This is something that we can help with at Help4Addiction. Read on to learn more about drug abuse – specifically cocaine abuse and drug addiction.

If you feel like you may have an addiction to cocaine or any other substances such as heroin addiction, cannabis addiction, or alcohol addiction, contact us today to find your local treatment provider, and to discuss treatment for cocaine dependence. With Help4Addiction, you can explore your treatment options in safe hands.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant drug that is powerfully addictive. It has been around for a long time – in fact, historically, people in South America would chew coca leaves from the coca plant (known as Erythroxylon coca) to experience the stimulant effect of cocaine.

However, the substance is now much purer after the chemical cocaine hydrochloride was isolated from coca leaves from the coca plant over a century ago.

The drug (purified cocaine) was actually used in a variety of elixirs and tonics in the early 1900s – and was even used in Coca-Cola, and was used as a local anaesthetic by surgeons to block pain.

Despite its regular use in the medical, holistic and beverage manufacturing industries in the past, cocaine is an addictive substance that can cause many negative consequences, including altered brain function and structure.

Cocaine is typically sold and used in powdered form. Powder cocaine is a fine, white powder that is commonly snorted – although it can be injected after being dissolved in water.

Cocaine users may also use cocaine orally, by rubbing the powder onto their gums. When snorted, cocaine enters the bloodstream through the nasal membranes, reaching the brain.

Cocaine users that snort cocaine powder will typically feel the drug’s effects in a matter of minutes. However, when cocaine is injected, users can feel the effects much quicker – in a matter of seconds. This is because it reaches the bloodstream directly.

As well as coke, cocaine has a variety of ‘street’ names. Some of the most common street names for cocaine include flake, line, snow, powder, nose candy, Charlie, big C, and many more.

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What Is Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine can come in different forms – you may have heard of crack and cocaine powder. Crack cocaine (smoking cocaine) emerged back in the 1980s and has a modified chemical structure that works to reach your brain quicker, producing a more intense high. It gets its name from the ‘cracking’ noise that users have found it makes when burned.

Instead of being snorted, crack cocaine is smoked and inhaled. It’s a short-acting drug with intense effects, which comes from cooking the cocaine in baking soda and water to produce small rocks.

If you’re addicted to crack cocaine, you should contact us to explore the crack addiction treatment options available to you.

Cocaine use and cocaine abuse can lead to you developing a cocaine addiction – read on to learn more about drug abuse and cocaine abuse. Knowing about drug abuse can be helpful in preventing drug abuse and even controlling cocaine consumption.

What is Drug Abuse?

Drug abuse, or substance abuse, is defined as the use of illegal drugs, alcohol, or prescription drugs/over-the-counter drugs for other reasons than the reasons they were supposed to be used, or excessive drug use. Typically, drug abuse leads to a combination of emotional, physical, social, and professional issues.

Cocaine Abuse: The Facts

Cocaine is one of the most used drugs in the UK – in fact, roughly 2.9% of adults between the ages of 16 and 59 have used powder cocaine. This figure rises to 6.2% in the demographic of 16-24-year-olds.

Cocaine can be dangerous even after taking it just one time. However, cocaine abuse can be especially risky if you have a heart condition or increased blood pressure – with the potential of causing an increased heart rate, heart attack/ cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, or a stroke.

Cocaine misuse can also be more dangerous when mixing alcohol and other drugs – it can cause serious, long-term damage. Mixing cocaine with alcohol and other drugs can even cause cocaine deaths.

Cocaine affects your appearance over time. For example, snorting cocaine can lead to cartilage damage, eventually leading to your nose being misshapen, or having one large nostril.

This is known as a perforated septum – and can lead to infected scabs, heavy breathing, and nasal obstruction. Cocaine can also damage your veins when injected, causing ulcers and even gangrene.

Abusing cocaine can affect your mental health, and can lead to you feeling run-down, feelings of severe depression, anxiety, and paranoia. If you experienced mental health issues in the past, then cocaine abuse can bring these back to the surface.

When you abuse cocaine, whether it be injecting cocaine or snorting it, there is always a chance that you could overdose. Some signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose may include:

If you think you have overdosed or you are around somebody presenting signs of a cocaine overdose, you should call the emergency services.

At Help4Addiction, we can provide phone support, and help you find the right rehab treatment for you, whether it be for cocaine, cannabis, heroin, or alcohol. However, we can not help in the instance of an overdose – this is something emergency services can help with.

What is a Cocaine Addiction?

Substance addiction or substance use disorder (SUD) is a brain condition that is characterised by a lack of control over taking a substance. People with a cocaine addiction will continue taking cocaine despite the negative effects – including physical, mental, and social effects.

Cocaine changes the way your brain works, affecting the signalling process between neurotransmitters and receptors. Our body produces many neurotransmitters – but dopamine is the key neurotransmitter.

Dopamine, a chemical messenger, plays a big role in how we feel pleasure. Our body produces dopamine when we’re doing something we’re enjoying, such as playing games or eating our favourite foods.

Typically, dopamine is recycled and goes back to the cell that released it – however, cocaine and other stimulants prevent this process from occurring. Instead, dopamine builds up in the brain, leaving you wanting more cocaine to feel the desired effects.

Continued cocaine use changes how your brain’s dopamine system functions, meaning you no longer feel pleasure from everyday activities. This can leave you feeling the urge to take the drug just to feel pleasure.

Abusing cocaine can often lead to physical and psychological dependence – which means that you’ll feel the need to take more and more of the drug to feel the same effect, and you cocaine experience symptoms of cocaine withdrawal when you stop taking it or you lower the amount you take.

See the ‘Detox’ section to learn more about the cocaine withdrawal process and cocaine detox.

Risk Factors for Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction can be influenced by a variety of risk factors for cocaine addiction – for example, unemployment, poverty, stress, and emotional/ professional pressure can trigger addiction or put you at an increased risk.

This is because substance abuse can be a way of blocking out issues – and can lead to cocaine dependence.

Understanding these risk factors can help identify individuals who may be more susceptible to cocaine addiction. Here are some common risk factors:

Genetic factors: Research suggests that genetics play a role in addiction vulnerability. Having a family history of substance abuse, including cocaine addiction, can increase the risk of developing an addiction.

Environmental factors: Certain environmental factors can contribute to cocaine addiction. These may include growing up in a household where drug use is prevalent, exposure to drug-using peers, a lack of parental supervision or support, and living in a community with high drug availability.

Mental health conditions: People with mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may be more prone to turn to cocaine as a means of self-medication or coping with their symptoms.

Early substance use: Early experimentation with drugs, including cocaine, during adolescence or young adulthood can increase the risk of developing an addiction. The brain is still developing during these periods, making it more susceptible to the effects of drugs.

Personal characteristics: Certain personal traits, such as impulsivity, sensation-seeking behaviour, low self-esteem, and a history of trauma or abuse, can contribute to the development of cocaine addiction.

Social and cultural factors: Societal influences, cultural norms, and peer pressure can significantly impact the likelihood of cocaine addiction. Living in an environment where drug use is normalised or glamorised can increase the risk.

It’s important to note that having one or more risk factors does not guarantee the development of cocaine addiction.

Many individuals with risk factors do not develop an addiction, while others without apparent risk factors can still become addicted. Recognizing these risk factors can help inform prevention efforts and early intervention strategies to reduce the likelihood of cocaine addiction.

Cocaine Addiction Symptoms

Cocaine alerts your brain’s reward system, ultimately causing feelings of euphoria. This is one of the main reasons that people get addicted to cocaine and other stimulants.

One of the main identifiers of cocaine addiction is the inability to control, lower, or stop your cocaine use, and the need to take more cocaine to feel the same effect. However, some other symptoms of cocaine addiction may include:

Prolonged cocaine use can increase the risk of developing a wide range of physical health issues, including stomach, lung, and heart issues. Cocaine alters your brain’s chemistry and can make it difficult for you to sleep, think, and remember things.

If you think you may have a cocaine addiction, or somebody you know has a cocaine addiction, we recommend getting help. Read on to learn more about the cocaine addiction treatment process and other drug addiction treatments.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

At Help4Addiction, we can help you find the right cocaine rehab treatment centre for you. With centres located around England and Wales, you’re sure to find a quality local treatment centre with Help4Addiction.

Many people prefer to treat their cocaine addiction on an outpatient basis – however, depending on the severity of your addiction, you may benefit from inpatient treatment in the form of residential rehab.

The timeline of rehab can vary from patient to patient, but for cocaine addiction, it’s almost always recommended to undergo 28-day rehab. However, we also offer 7-day rehab for addictions such as cannabis addiction or alcohol addiction, as well as 14-day rehab options.

At Help4Addiction, we can find the best substance abuse treatment for you. Read on to learn more about the cocaine dependency treatment process, from detoxification to secondary care.


The first (and arguably the most important) stage of treatment for cocaine addiction is the cocaine detoxification process. This is the stage where the toxins exit your body.

Some people choose to detox from cocaine on an inpatient basis with medical supervision, which can be particularly helpful with more severe cocaine addictions.

Some withdrawal symptoms that cocaine addicts may experience include:

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can occur any time after a few hours up to a few weeks after stopping cocaine use.

Most people can manage these symptoms without hospitalisation, but it’s always helpful to have the support of addiction specialists. However, with drugs such as heroin, quitting without medical assistance can be a dangerous method.

Although most of the withdrawal symptoms may become more bearable with time, you may experience intense cocaine cravings and depression for months after your last cocaine use. In some instances, residential rehabilitation may be the best choice.


Upon completing a successful cocaine detox, you will undergo the next stage of your treatment plan. This involves receiving the support you need to remain off the drug, and often involves a variety of therapies.

Talking therapies and behavioural therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can help you to identify and deal with the root causes of your substance abuse issues. It can also help you gain an understanding of your triggers – and find out exactly why you got addicted to cocaine.

However, therapies can vary from clinic to clinic. Group therapy is almost always included, which allows you to discuss your situation, experiences, and feelings with others in a similar situation. You’ll also likely be offered one-to-one sessions with a clinical psychologist or a counsellor.

Secondary Treatment

Secondary treatment and cocaine addiction aftercare can help to streamline your recovery and prevent relapse. At Help4Addiction, we don’t just wave goodbye when you leave rehab – we will continue to support you.

You may choose to undergo outpatient therapy, such as group therapy or support groups (e.g Alcoholics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous). Ongoing support is a crucial aspect of cocaine use disorder rehab.

About Author

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. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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