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Is Cocaine Addictive After One Use?

A man winds the time on a clock he holds in his hands.
Because of the intense euphoria it brings, cocaine is a drug that has the power to hook you quickly.


That’s the short answer, now let’s delve into the long answer. Here’s what happens when you use cocaine. Whether you snort it, sniff it or smoke it, it affects the brain more or less immediately. You’ll feel intense well-being and be very talkative, energetic and confident. At the same time, you won’t get sleepy or hungry.

It’s easy to see why it’s called a party drug.

But the high only lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. That’s why so many users binge on the drug, taking it multiple times over a four to 24-hour period before crashing.

It should be noted that, while rare, first-time use can result in a heart attack or seizure. And mixing cocaine with alcohol or heroin can significantly compound the risk of overdosing.

But, let’s get back to the original question.

How Addictive is Coke?

According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR), cocaine is “highly addictive.” When cocaine is processed into crack and smoked, the high hits more quickly and is more intense. CESAR warns that, “A person can become addicted after his or her first time trying crack cocaine.”

If you ask around or google (or work with people in recovery everyday, like we do) you’ll find a wide range of experiences and outcomes with coke. Many people use coke just a few times a year and leave it at that. Others try it and quickly end up hooked. Some try it once and are dead. There’s just no way of knowing for sure which group a person will fall into.

Cocaine is one of the more expensive drugs out there, which serves to limit consumption for some people. But, if you’ve got money, it can be much easier to get into trouble.

Consider what horror writer Stephen King told a newspaper in 2000: “With cocaine, one snort, and it just owned my body and soul.” (King has been sober since the late ’80s.)

There is no shortage of stories of lives that have been consumed by cocaine.

The bottom line is that cocaine, especially in crack form, can be instantly addictive, but isn’t always. The euphoria it offers is extremely tempting to many, even though it’s usually followed by a payback period of feeling depressed and anxious.

Let’s take a closer look at how cocaine addiction actually works.

Is Cocaine Physically or Psychologically Addictive?

Unlike alcohol or heroin, cocaine is not physically addictive. A crash might leave you feeling depressed or anxious, but you will not feel physically sick.

While that may be comforting to some, stop and consider how cocaine is psychologically addictive. When you use cocaine, the drug raises levels of dopamine in the brain. If you do that often enough, it will cause normal dopamine communication in the brain to malfunction.

So while there may be no physical withdrawal symptoms, you will certainly not be at your best. Those attempting to quit can experience depression, anxiety, cravings and lethargy.

What that means, practically speaking, is that everything that used to make you happy won’t any more—reading a good book, listening to music, going out to dinner with friends. None of those will be able to hold a candle to a line of coke.

The good news is that all of that can be reversed—once someone decides to stop using and seek treatment.

Hope at The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver where healing begins in a nurturing, relaxed home environment. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are addressed and managed by a team of doctors, nurses and therapists. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the cocaine addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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