Signs of Cocaine Addiction – What to look for


Are you noticing unusual behaviours in a loved one or colleague that raise concerns about possible cocaine use? It’s common to feel unsure about how to differentiate between normal behaviour and signs of substance use. 

This blog aims to guide you through the behavioural, psychological, and physical indicators associated with cocaine use. Understanding these signs is crucial, but it’s equally important to approach the situation with empathy and seek professional guidance for accurate assessments.

Signs Someone Is Using Cocaine

Perhaps you’re concerned about your son coming home later and later in the weekend. Or maybe your co-worker has been spending a little more time in the bathroom than usual. When we have suspicions, it can be hard to know if they are well-founded or if we are being paranoid. 

You may find yourself wondering what to keep an eye out for in order to know if someone is probably using cocaine. However, the exact signs and symptoms can vary widely depending on how much someone is using, and how frequently. 

Typically indications fall under three categories: behavioural signs, psychological signs, and physical signs. Some of these symptoms include but are not limited to: 

  • Unusually erratic or impulsive behaviour
  • Increasing isolating themselves
  • An inability to fulfil their social or financial obligations
  • A significant increase in secretive behaviour, or even outright lying
  • Regular requests to borrow money or get advances on their paychecks 
  • Frequent sniffing and runny noses
  • Significant weight loss, or a noticeable decrease in appetite 
  • Consistent sweating, whether the temperature is warm or cool
  • An increase in energy and hyperactivity
  • Intense mood swings, often from exuberant to depressed or irritable 
  • An inability to fall asleep, or stay asleep for prolonged periods

It can be tricky to identify when someone is using cocaine, particularly if they are not currently under the influence when you are looking for these signs. Additionally, if someone is only using cocaine casually, or very rarely, they may be able hide these symptoms or may not be experiencing them at all. 

It is important to remember that just because someone is exhibiting any of these signs, it is not definitive proof that they are a cocaine user. Furthermore, it is not because someone is a cocaine user that they are automatically also a cocaine addict. If you have any concerns about your, or a loved one’s, cocaine habits, please seek professional guidance and diagnoses. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

The term ‘addiction’ may seem quite simple, however if you asked a room full of medical professionals what exactly is addiction, and therefore the symptoms of addiction, you may receive a variety of different answers. 

A strictly biological approach may seek to identify if the user has developed a ‘dependency’. This refers to the experience of tolerance, needing to take more in order to have the same effects, and withdrawal, unpleasant symptoms caused by cessation of the product and are relieved by resuming consumption of the product. 

Traditional informal social approaches, such as those used by the 12-step fellowships, may simply ask someone “are you an addict?”. The question does not revolve specifically around how much they use, but more so around how the individual may self-identify. Specifically, if they feel they have lost control and are powerless. 

When considering cocaine addiction from a biopsychosocial perspective, it can be summarised under three criteria. An all consuming relationship with cocaine, that negatively affects the person’s life, which they cannot control nor put to an end despite those negative consequences. 

Despite the wide variety of approaches, two widely accepted sets of diagnostic criteria exist in order to diagnose addiction, or ‘Substance Use Disorder’ as it’s clinically referred to. These criteria come from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases. For an indepth look at how these criteria can be used to identify cocaine addiction, please see our blog on How To Help Someone With A Cocaine Addiction.

When Is It Time to Seek Help for Cocaine Addiction?

Any moment, from the first time you ask yourself this question, is the right time to seek help for cocaine addiction or dependency. Family support is always important for recovery, but the more advanced a person’s condition, the more critical it is that specialists step in and provide the necessary guidance.

Individuals do not necessarily need to meet the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder in order to exhibit “problematic use” or “problematic relationships” with substances. Professional treatment and guidance can be most beneficial during this time, when your use is badly impacting your life but you still have some control. 

Therapeutic interventions and outpatient therapy can be an effective means of addressing the primary causes of problematic cocaine use in persons who are just starting to dip their toes in the waters of treatment. However, in-patient facilities like Clinic Les Alpes may be a great place to start your recovery journey if you’ve tried and failed multiple times to cut down or quit. 

It’s crucial to keep in mind that you are never “too far gone” or “not bad enough” to ask for expert assistance. In order to safeguard your general welfare and avoid long-term negative consequences, early intervention is essential. 


Looking for signs that someone is using cocaine, or that they may have a cocaine addiction, usually comes from a place of love and concern. Addiction and dependency are serious illnesses that pose an incredibly pervasive problem regarding quality of life, so this concern is not unfounded. 

Generally when looking for these signs, keep in mind that professional support is always the best recommended course of action. Remember that you do not have to wait for the signs of cocaine addiction to worsen before you seek help – and Clinic Les Alpes is here to be your first step in getting that help.

Clinically Reviewed By

Brittany Hunt

Brittany Hunt is an internationally experienced clinician, specialised in treating addictions and co-occurring disorders. Having worked in the public and private sector, she utilises holistic and evidence-based approaches designed to empower the patients in their recovery journeys. A graduate of The University of Auckland, she has a Bachelor of Health Sciences majoring in Mental Health and Addictions, a diploma in Psychology and Counselling and a Post-Graduate degree in Health Sciences, majoring in Addictions. She is a fully registered practitioner under the Drug and Alcohol Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (DAPAANZ).

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