Nobody is exempt from suffering the weight of addiction; you should be aware that the key risks and effects of casual cocaine use include addiction. 

Find out here what happens when you continue with recreational cocaine use and how it is a slippery slope to negative consequences.

What Is Classed as Casual Cocaine Use?

Cocaine is a strong stimulant drug used for recreational purposes all around the world, but what is classed as casual usage?

Casual cocaine use could look like using cocaine only at social events, using less than somebody who is addicted, using it in recreational settings as opposed to using it as a coping mechanism or alone and also having a lack of dependency and instead feeling like you do indeed have control.

This casual use may last some time, but there is always the risk and danger of it going too far and spiralling out of control.

Cocaine is addictive, and tolerance can rise quickly, meaning you may find that even during recreational usage, you need more to chase the high you once had. This is when it gets very serious, the dangers of cocaine are always clear, but with more frequency, the dangers become much more prevalent and, ultimately, can soon turn into denial about having an addiction.

Due to the growing ‘normalisation’ of cocaine use as a recreational substance, it can be easy for users to pass off addiction as casual, social use – downplaying the seriousness of any form of substance abuse.

That being said, it is incredibly important to recognise signs that the effects of casual cocaine use have spiralled and have turned into an addiction; before we get into further details of the signs to look out for, here are some of the most common signs of cocaine addiction.

  • You use drugs to self-medicate against unpleasant feelings
  • You act differently or take big risks to access cocaine
  • You have withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, muscle tremors, etc, when you don’t take cocaine)
  • You struggle to maintain relationships because of your cocaine use
  • You struggle to maintain jobs because of your cocaine use (see your job rights and whether you can be fired for drug use
  • You find yourself thinking about taking drugs often
  • You can’t enjoy yourself or manage stressful situations without cocaine
  • You cannot stick to limits that you set yourself in order to curb your drug-taking

Why Is Cocaine So Addictive?

Cocaine produces a range of effects, which include increased energy and self-confidence, as well as euphoria, making it one of the UK’s favourite party drugs; how dangerous is cocaine, and why is it so addictive?

For many, taking cocaine over the weekend has become as much of a habit as drinking a few pints with friends. The reason behind cocaine’s addictiveness is due to the brain’s ‘reward system’ making it even harder to stop once the frequency of use ramps up.

Primarily, dopamine release is a key player. This neurotransmitter is associated with pleasure and reward, and when cocaine is taken, a burst of dopamine is released, emitting immense feelings of euphoria, pleasure and confidence.

This feeling is chased again and again every time a user takes cocaine to recreate this feeling. This is why addiction formulates so easily, as with repetitive usage comes higher tolerance and higher doses – with this comes addiction.

Ultimately, it is pleasure that makes users chase the high, but this is an incredibly dangerous chase and can end fatally. With the increasing normalisation of cocaine use, users often ask, ‘is cocaine bad?’ – the answer? Yes.

So, if you’re worried about your or somebody else cocaine habits, read below some of the telling signs that a casual cocaine habit has turned into something more sinister and get the help you need.

What Are The Signs Your Cocaine Habit Is A More Serious Problem?

Recreational cocaine use can often become a more serious dependency and habit, often without an individual realising it. Below are some of the common indicators and patterns we see when treating individuals struggling with cocaine dependency.

#1 You Feel Like You Need Cocaine For Every Night Out

A sure sign that you are developing a reliance or addiction on cocaine is feeling like you cannot enjoy any night out with friends without taking the drug.

If the idea that you would go out and not take cocaine seems impossible to you, then you need to get help as soon as possible.

Cocaine shouldn’t be a normalised activity in the same way drinking culture may be; it should be taken at face value, and this is the fact that it is a high-class illegal substance that is addictive, dangerous and can lead to fatalities.

#2 Your Eyes Are Permanently Bloodshot

Whilst you are high on cocaine, your pupils will dilate, and your eyes will become bloodshot, but these symptoms disappear as the effects of the drug wear off.

For more serious users, however, the whites of your eyes may start to look bloodshot for days or even weeks after taking cocaine, and this is because cocaine affects the sympathetic nervous system, raising your blood pressure and making the vessels in your eyes expand.

With repeated use, these vessels may struggle to recover, leaving your eyes appearing red and irritated for long periods.

#3 You Have Consistent Stomach Upsets

Whilst any substance abuse leaves you prone to catching illnesses, cocaine specifically affects the blood flow through your body and to your organs.

When your stomach and intestines lose blood flow, they can become inflamed, leading to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation and painful stomach cramps.

Over time, this organ damage can increase and lead to more serious problems, such as necrotic bowel tissue, which could be fatal.

#4 You Always Feel Like You Have Congestion

One of the most common ways to take cocaine is to snort it through the nose, which irritates its delicate membranes and can cause nosebleeds and a runny nose.

If you take cocaine regularly, this tissue can be worn down and damaged, resulting in you appearing to have a permanent cold.

Cocaine withdrawal causes shaking and tremors, similar to when you are suffering from a cold or flu, and the drug also stops users from feeling hungry, so lack of nutrition leaves you open to more illnesses.

#5 You Feel Anxious All The Time

A cocaine high causes users to feel over-confident and social, making them feel more able to enjoy a night out with friends.

However, the comedown from cocaine causes the opposite effects, with users feeling anxious, paranoid and ‘on edge’. Over time, your brain becomes reliant on cocaine to feel confident and social, meaning that whenever you are not high, you feel depressed and paranoid.

If you are starting to feel restless and anxious constantly, then this is a clear sign that you might be suffering from a dependence on cocaine.

#6 You Can’t ‘Get High’ Anymore

For repeated abusers of drugs, and those that take cocaine every weekend, the body starts to get used to having a certain amount of the drug to produce the hormones and endorphins that it does naturally without them.

In this case, cocaine increases the amount of dopamine the brain releases, leading to a short-lived high.

Over time, the brain struggles to create and release a normal amount of dopamine unless cocaine is taken, meaning that much more needs to be taken to feel high, also known as a high tolerance.

#7 You’re Taking Bigger Risks

Risky behaviour is heavily correlated with cocaine use.

You might find that you are doing drugs at work, stealing or selling things to fund your habit, or just getting yourself into dangerous situations that you would not have previously done.

Cocaine impairs your judgement, making these ideas seem positive at the time, but this can also be a sign that your need for the drug is starting to overrule your sense of self-preservation.

Do I Have A Cocaine Addiction?

It is impossible to know for sure whether or not you have a cocaine addiction unless you speak to a professional.

Ocean Recovery Centre is available to talk to you, and we offer a safe, non-judgemental service that will help to get you back on the right track and away from developing a cocaine use disorder.

Talk to us today about your concerns at 01253 847 553, and we can advise you on your next steps if you are worried about yourself or somebody else.


Cocaine addiction

Please click on one of the below links for more information on the Cocaine addiction treatment we offer.

Cocaine detox Cociane rehab

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: October 11, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.