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How Long Does It Take to Become Addicted to Cocaine?

A businessman sits at his desk, looking worried.
Cocaine addiction doesn’t happen overnight, but it can occur surprisingly fast.


Your body cannot become physically dependent on cocaine after just one use.

Cocaine works by blocking the removal of dopamine from your brain, resulting in euphoria. After the first time someone uses cocaine, the brain will return to normal.

But if you keep flooding your brain with all that extra dopamine, your body will eventually put the brakes on its own production of the feel-good chemical.

The result? You’ll need cocaine just to feel normal. In other words, you’ll be addicted.

Exactly how long that takes is the question.

Stages of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine use starts out in what is called the experimental phase. It could be that someone is just curious about what it feels like to do coke. Or perhaps there is social pressure to use.

Cocaine use begins to become compulsive when a user continues to seek the effects of cocaine. As the brain becomes used to the drug, the user needs to take more and more to achieve the same effect. There are no physical withdrawal symptoms, but symptoms such as anxiety and cravings are common.

Finally, cocaine takes over. Nothing matters except the drug—and job loss and even criminal behavior can follow.

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So is Cocaine Addictive After One Use?

There may be a more helpful way of framing the discussion: True cocaine addiction can’t technically occur the first time you touch the drug. But you also can’t become addicted to cocaine without using it for the first time.

Within the gray area, there are a lot of variables—and even more risk.

Are there people who use cocaine once and never try it again? Of course.

But there are also plenty of people who use it once and launch an almost immediate spiral of cocaine binging that quickly leads to addiction.

Was the addiction inevitable with the very first gram? It’s hard to definitively answer that question. But it’s not hard to know that cocaine can swiftly and certainly destroy a life—and that many people need help to break free.

Help for Cocaine Addiction in Denver

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that believes in taking a whole-person approach to addiction recovery, meaning we address the physical, psychological, social, mental and spiritual aspects of the disease. 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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