Learn About Our Walk-In Process

How To Know If Someone Is Using Cocaine

Written by Thomas Christiansen

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Candace Crowley, PhD

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Editorial Policy

Last Updated - 08/15/2020

View our editorial policy
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. Speak with a Recovery Advocate by calling (561) 340-7269 now.

Updated 08/15/2020

Cocaine use leads to serious consequences. Learn how to identify signs of cocaine use in loved ones and encourage them to seek help.

Repeated cocaine use can lead to cocaine addiction and severe physical and social consequences. Initially, signs of cocaine use may be challenging to identify in loved ones, colleagues or acquaintances. However, over time, signs may become more apparent as cocaine abuse becomes more severe. Although several physical and behavioral signs indicate cocaine abuse, each person is unique, and no single sign should be used to confirm cocaine abuse.

Physical Signs Of Cocaine Use

Physical signs of cocaine use in adults can vary from person to person. Physical signs of cocaine abuse include changes in eye appearance and nose appearance.

Eye Appearance

Cocaine, a central nervous system stimulant, exerts several effects on the eyes by altering brain and nerve signaling. Cocaine’s effects on the eyes include:

  • Pupil dilation: cocaine-induced dilated pupils are a hallmark of the drug’s use.
  • Bloodshot eyes: eyes may appear bloodshot as the blood vessels located in the eye expand due to cocaine use.

Nose Appearance

Cocaine is commonly snorted, leading to changes in the nose’s appearance, structure or function. These changes are sometimes termed “cocaine nose.”

  • White powder: the presence of cocaine powder on the nose can indicate recent drug snorting.
  • Runny or bloody nose: damage to cells and tissue within the nose leads to cocaine-induced nosebleeds or cocaine-induced runny nose.
  • Collapsing nose: with chronic use, cocaine-induced nose holes can develop.
  • Constant sniffing: nose irritation can cause a cocaine-induced stuffy nose.

Behavioral Signs Of Cocaine Use

Due to its stimulant effects, cocaine’s behavior-modifying effects can be used to indicate drug use. Behavioral signs of cocaine use in adults include emotional changes and the development of problematic behavior.

Changes in Emotion

The emotional effects of cocaine use include:

  • Aggressive mood swings: cocaine mood swings can include intense excitability, depression, aggression, and violent outbursts.
  • Social isolation: frequent cocaine use can lead to self-isolation from loved ones or social situations as individuals attempt to hide their drug use.
  • Heightened confidence: cocaine’s stimulant effects may lead to increased confidence and talkativeness.

Behavioral Effects

  • Financial difficulties: cocaine and money problems go hand in hand; individuals using cocaine may encounter economic issues due to cocaine’s high cost per gram or due to neglection of work or financial responsibilities.
  • Hygiene: lack of concern for personal hygiene and appearance may occur as an individual’s life begins revolving around cocaine use.
  • Appetite: cocaine may cause loss of appetite due to the drug’s appetite suppressive properties.
  • Cocaine paraphernalia: the appearance of cocaine paraphernalia such as pipes, syringes, pipes, spoons, razor blades or small baggies in an individual’s home, car or workspace indicates cocaine use.

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction?

Our Recovery Advocates are available 24/7 to help.

Helping Someone With Cocaine Abuse

Encouraging a loved to seek cocaine addiction help is critical to help them avoid serious side effects and consequences. Approach them with a supportive mindset while encouraging them to seek the assistance of a professional treatment program. Comprehensive, professional cocaine treatment facilities provide the resources necessary to achieve recovery, including:

  • Medical detox
  • Inpatient or outpatient rehab
  • Psychotherapy
  • Support group sessions
  • Aftercare and sober living programs

A healthy, cocaine-free life can be achieved with the proper treatment. If you or a loved one live with cocaine addiction, The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health can help. Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health today to learn about treatment options and begin the first steps toward addiction recovery.

View Sources

Molteni, Marco; et al. “Snorting the clivus away: an extreme case of cocaine-induced midline destructive lesion.” BMJ Case Reports, October 20, 2016. Accessed October 9, 2019.

Drug Enforcement Administration. “Cocaine.” July 30, 2019. Accessed October 9, 2019.