Cocaine Addiction & Abuse

Concerned about cocaine use? Learn more about cocaine addiction & treatment options

Here at Sanctuary Lodge, we can help you to overcome cocaine addiction and get back on track to confidence and happiness without the aid of a drug.

Upon your arrival here, a psychiatrist devises a bespoke treatment plan, with a wide variety of group and individual therapies chosen according to your unique needs. We take a holistic approach to treating addiction, which means we aim to treat your mind, body and spirit.

Do not let your loved ones ignore the issues related to cocaine use, because it is a serious substance that causes serious problems for both the physical and the physiological health of the user. In 2017 there were 432 deaths relating to cocaine use disorder — almost quadruple the number in 2011.

Cocaine Abuse Vs Addiction

If you’re using cocaine regularly, you may feel confused about whether it’s a problem or not. Perhaps a lot of your friends are doing it, and you’ve heard about its popularity in the news. You may be tempted to think that using it a few times a week or month is okay. (1)

But because it is an illegal drug, any form of use is considered abuse. While abuse is not the same as addiction, it’s only a step away. If you feel you’ve started to build a tolerance, it’s time to seek help.

When you use cocaine regularly without feeling persistent cravings or the need to do it more often, you’re still abusing the drug. Once you need more of the drug to achieve the same effects, feel intense cravings and suffer withdrawal symptoms after taking cocaine, you’re likely developing an addiction. Either way, our expert team can help you to fight this affliction and start to focus on realising your dreams again. (2)

woman struggling with cocaine addiction
risk factors on letters

What Causes Cocaine Addiction?

If you worry that you’re using too much, you’re not alone. Cocaine is the drug with the highest risk of regular use leading to abuse over any other illegal mind-altering substance. That said, not everyone who has access to cocaine will use it. Likewise, not everyone who uses the drug goes on to use it compulsively. Genetics, biological responses to repeat exposure and a wide range of environmental and social factors contribute to making you more vulnerable to becoming dependent on cocaine. (1)

Environmental Factors

It is believed that environmental factors play a larger role than genetic factors in developing an addiction to stimulants. In some ways, this is good news if you’re struggling with controlling your cocaine use. Issues in our environment are often much easier to alter or amend slightly than genetic factors, although even genetic influences such as poorly developed impulse centres in the brain can be developed with ongoing treatment from medical professionals. (3)

For children and teenagers, a lack of parental input is a major risk factor for developing an addiction, as is drug use within the family. Peer pressure and being part of a social group that partakes in drug-taking, even if they don’t actively encourage you to do it, are also risk factors. Across all age groups, using cocaine as a response to stress or traumatic events greatly increases your chance of becoming dependent on it.

The sheer popularity of the drug, ease of availability and its prevalence in the media are also influences that can lead to addiction. (4)

Genetic Factors

Genetic risk factors for developing an addiction to cocaine can’t be explained by one single gene. Scientists believe that there is a gene that predisposes you to become dependent on legal substances such as alcohol and nicotine, as well as one to predispose you to illegal substances like coke. Both of these tend to be present in people who develop dependencies on psychoactive drugs.

Personality is thought to play the biggest part in your likelihood of developing an addiction, with a tendency towards risk-taking and sensation-seeking behaviour being present in most people who are addicted to cocaine. This is thought to be tied into how well-developed the impulse control centres in your brain are. (5)

Repeat Exposure

After repeated exposure to cocaine, your brain begins to adapt so that the reward centres become less sensitive to natural stimulants. It also adapts so that the more you take of the drug, the more you require in order to achieve the same effects. This can feel scary and is known as building a tolerance. These factors, along with becoming less sensitive to natural positive reinforcement, make you more likely to focus on seeking the drug than relationships, food or other natural rewards. (6)

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Addiction

The signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction vary from one person to another; they can also be symptoms of different addictions, health conditions and psychological illnesses unrelated to cocaine use. We always take into account that you are a unique person with your own complex needs and experiences. Here is a range of symptoms observed across a large cross-section of people who are going through cocaine addiction.


  • High blood pressure
  • Breathing problems
  • Heart problems
  • Stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Insomnia
  • Sleeping less
  • Bursts of energy followed by periods of lethargy or low mood
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Sweating
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sniffing/nose-wiping/constantly runny nose
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heart rate


  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Inflated ego
  • Brief euphoric state
  • Psychosis
  • Restlessness
  • Impaired thinking
  • Poor judgement
  • Anger
  • Intense cravings for cocaine
a man seeking help for cocaine addiction

Getting Help for Cocaine Addiction

If you’re battling with an addiction to cocaine — also known as snow, sniff, blow, white and coke — you don’t have to feel like you’re at a dead end. You’ve shown the strength to come here and seek out information, which, in the throes of addiction, shows great courage and is a testament to your willpower. Your determination, alongside guidance from a team of addiction experts, is necessary for long-term recovery.

At Sanctuary Lodge, we take a compassionate and understanding approach to helping you overcome addiction. This approach empowers you to help yourself and find the strength to live a happier, healthier life in recovery.

If you feel like cocaine addiction has taken over your life, we can support you every step of the way. In these cases, inpatient rehab, where you have 24-hour access to treatment is often the best option.

Inpatient Cocaine Rehab

During residential rehab at Sanctuary Lodge, you undergo treatment that helps your body, mind and spirit to recover. By immersing yourself in an environment designed to promote recovery, you can break the negative routine you’ve become stuck in a rut with and focus your efforts on getting better. Upon arrival, you’re assessed by a psychiatrist who specialises in detoxification and addiction rehabilitation. They make a detailed treatment plan, based on your individual needs, and then you begin your cocaine detox.

Once your body is purged of cocaine, you’ll begin the rehab portion of your stay. During this time, you’ll undergo a mixture of group and individual therapy. We use traditional therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), family therapy and more. We also offer holistic courses such as yoga, art therapy, music therapy and mindfulness, among others.

We aim to help you learn how to better understand and deal with your feelings and thoughts without turning to drugs. We’ve succeeded in helping countless people who are going through exactly what you’re going through to overcome their addiction and resume a happy, fulfilled life.

sanctuary lodge rehab building

Your care doesn’t end as you walk out of the door. Recovery is an ongoing process. This is why we provide free aftercare.

Outpatient NHS services

If you’re concerned about cost, or you don’t feel like you’ve entirely lost control yet, you may be considering treatment from the NHS. The NHS usually offers you free outpatient treatment, during which you spend the daytime attending group and individual therapy. In some cases, holistic therapies are offered, but not always. Also, the waiting lists for free treatment can be several months long, which may prevent you from getting help when you really need it.

If some of your triggers are home-based, you’re exposed to them daily. We strongly recommend outpatient treatment once you have successfully completed an inpatient programme, as people who receive follow-up care are more likely to enjoy long-term recovery. (6)

Support groups

Support groups can be highly effective methods for treating addiction. Peer-led conversation encourages independence and allows you to listen to and share stories of recovery. Often, this gives you a new, enhanced perspective on your struggle with addiction to cocaine. Both inpatient and outpatient services usually include support groups in one form or another. For people going through cocaine addiction, this is usually Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous. We also provide group therapy sessions as part of the bespoke treatment plans.

Once you have finished a course of inpatient or outpatient treatment, we recommend you continue to attend meetings for at least a year. We provide such group sessions to our Alumni. Studies into support groups have shown that they are one of the most useful tools for overcoming addiction long term. (7)

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Cocaine Addiction FAQ

How addictive is cocaine?
Cocaine is a substance with a high potential for abuse and addiction. Even if you don’t take cocaine every day, you could still be going through an addiction to the substance. If you are taking it on a daily or even weekly basis, you’re probably dependent on it. Two major factors that lead to addiction or dependence are using it to help you in social situations and using it to enhance or prolong the effect of other substances.

Relying on substances to help you interact with people or feel better are fast-track routes to dependence and addiction. Studies in human and animals have shown that cocaine causes compulsive, habit-forming behaviours, especially after repeated exposure. (8)

What makes cocaine addictive?
Your brain responds to stimuli by releasing dopamine. One action cocaine has on the brain is to prevent the dopamine that’s already been released from being mopped up, causing a build-up. This causes intense feelings of self-satisfaction and pleasure and encourages you to seek out the activity of using cocaine again. Although some of you will be more susceptible to falling victim to cocaine’s dopamine deception than others, you can still learn strategies to resist drug-taking and overcome the habit. (8)
What is the difference between cocaine and crack cocaine?
Turning cocaine into a smokable substance that produces a much more intense and powerful high, due to how quickly it enters the bloodstream, is how you create crack cocaine. It is a much more dangerous form of the drug, with the potential to cause severe respiratory problems, damage to the heart and liver, malnutrition, aggressive and paranoid behaviour, as well as severe depression.
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