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How To Help Someone Who Is Addicted to Cocaine

Speaking to a friend or loved one about cocaine addiction is a difficult bridge to cross, but doing so can make an enormous difference in their decision to seek help in the future. The unfortunate truth is that many people witness signs of cocaine abuse in someone they know but do nothing to help them access or succeed in substance abuse treatment.

Stigma and misinformation can threaten the most well-meant attempts to obtain help for someone you care about. With that in mind, we have put together this short guide to recognizing cocaine abuse, discussing addiction, and ultimately supporting a loved one through drug abuse treatment.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Understanding the signs of cocaine addiction can help you assess the severity of your loved one’s cocaine use. Understanding the signs will also help you build the foundations to support them and encourage them to seek treatment.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states that “substance use disorders occur when the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.”

According to this, cocaine addiction may have reached a point where it is harmful, recognizable, and treatable regardless of whether it is affecting the individual’s physical, emotional, or social health. In many cases, particularly when considering more extreme addictions, cocaine addiction begins to permeate many aspects of the addicted person’s life, degrading personal health, sabotaging work and relationships, clouding emotional reactions, and hindering rational judgment.

If a person recognizes these impairments and negative consequences but fails to cut back or quit, the signs point clearly to cocaine use disorder.

Interpersonal and Emotional Signs

  • Secrecy. Lying about whereabouts, using in secret, and avoiding sharing the details of where, with whom, or where your loved one has been all raise red flags for many kinds of substance use disorders, cocaine addiction included.
  • Irritability. Changes in a person’s emotional norm and the development of a more irritable, erratic, or agitated personality may point to the development of cocaine dependence.
  • Extreme emotions. Mood swings that vary between high emotional highs and low lows are psychological symptoms that are easily recognizable to family members and loved ones.
  • Stealing. Borrowing beyond means, stealing, or lying about money are often associated with drug abuse.
  • Loss of interest. Cocaine alters the dopamine balance in an addicted user’s brain, dampening the nervous system’s ability to regulate focus and communicate emotions like happiness or interest. Former activities, people, or places that cocaine users may have enjoyed become hard to maintain interest in.

First Steps: Speaking About Cocaine Addiction

If you recognize any of the above signs and symptoms of addiction in a loved one or friend, the possibility that you are dealing with a cocaine use disorder needs to be taken seriously. In most cases, the next responsible step is to start talking.

Bringing up the subject of problematic drug use for the first time can be challenging, so it is important to feel grounded and secure in your observations before you begin. Once you’re ready, it’s time to start talking, but remember that stigmatization, blame games, and alienation are poisonous to recovery. Instead, we recommend the following:


  • Educate yourself in advance about the reality of cocaine addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Proper knowledge of this well-documented medical condition will help you support a loved one both now and later in their recovery.
  • Wait for a calm moment when the person is not under the influence of cocaine or any other substances. The sooner you can discuss treatment, the sooner your loved one will receive treatment; however, this conversation needs to happen at a time when they are available to listen.
  • Vocalize your concerns honestly. Sharing your observations in an open, forthright, and compassionate manner communicates to your loved one that you are a safe person to share this struggle with. Honesty and kindness should rule this conversation – while you should be truthful about your worries, it will not be a good time to air out other touchy arguments.
  • Maintain a positive outlook. The objective of these conversations is to help your friend or loved one seek and succeed in addiction treatment. Cocaine use disorders are highly treatable with medical detox, inpatient or outpatient treatment, therapies, and support groups. The conversations you are starting now can be an act of self-fulfilling hope.
  • Offer help with the process. Addiction to cocaine taxes a person’s mental health and ability to organize effectively. The scope and gravity of the idea of seeking addiction treatment can overshadow the practical steps involved at a time when urgency is needed. If possible, you may want to offer a hand in researching rehab centers and treatment options, booking a substance abuse assessment with a treatment provider, organizing transport, or advocating for other loved ones.


  • Engage if you feel unsafe. It goes without saying that abusive or violent behavior, be it physical, verbal, or otherwise relational, should never be tolerated. If you have reason to believe that speaking to your loved one about their substance addiction will result in anything unsafe, contact an external professional immediately.
  • Enable. Caring for someone who lives with severe cocaine abuse is not always easy, and we know it can be hard not to protect your loved one when the adverse consequences of their actions get too real and intense. Remember, the only way this person can be protected is by obtaining addiction treatment for drug use and following through on the decision to quit cocaine. One of the most detrimental things you can do is hide or shield the person struggling from the reality of what they are doing to themselves. Making excuses for friends or work, calling in sick to bosses, and financing monetary losses can only delay the inevitable realization that help is needed.
  • Blame. With that in mind, do not forget that cocaine use disorder is a mental illness. Many of the occurrences and coincidences that lead to the development of addiction are external to the individual. Genes, background, childhood, and health are just some of the risk factors that play roles. Don’t try to trace the drug abuse back to pass a verdict on anyone’s original fault.
  • Sacrifice your own needs. No matter what your relationship with the person addicted to cocaine is, supporting their recovery should not cost you your own mental, emotional, or physical health. Set boundaries where you need to, get the sleep you require, and give yourself time to process your emotional state on your own. Many people who love those with drug addictions benefit greatly from speaking to a therapist of their own.

On Interventions

Many voices are stronger than one. Likewise, discussing drug abuse one-on-one may not be the best way to get your loved one’s potential addiction seen.

In an intervention, a meeting will be planned by the worried and affected friends and family members of the person who needs help from a treatment center. During the intervention, the various organizers will each share their own experiences of their loved one’s cocaine use, highlighting how it has affected their lives, changes they have observed in the central person’s behavior, and why they feel it is time to stop drug abuse.

Intervention does not need to wait until your friend or a family member has hit their lowest point. In fact, these essential social tools can work even in the early stages of cocaine addiction. The sooner a person checks into treatment facilities and starts receiving specialized care, the better the chances are that they can avoid the terrible health consequences of long-term drug abuse.

During Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Whether they continue living with or near to you or check-in for full-time medical supervision for an extended period, don’t think that because your loved one has signed up for substance use disorder treatment, you can’t do anything to help. There are many things you can do, some of which we have outlined below.

Understand the Treatment Model Your Loved One Has Chosen

Whether they select inpatient treatment or intensive outpatient treatment, put some work into learning what your loved one can expect from the form of treatment they opt for. Check out what kind of therapies and treatment options are on offer for treating cocaine addiction, and do your best to learn about how they work.

Ask About Group Therapy Treatment Options

It can be hard to accept, but casting a therapeutic eye on yourself during your loved one’s addiction treatment can do wonders to help them stay sober. If the addicted person is a family member or spouse, the treatment facility may offer some form of family or couples therapy designed to help you uncover and manage the historic and present-day relationship dynamics that may be contributing to your loved one’s substance use disorder.

Family or couples therapy is a private and convenient solution to dealing with these dynamics and preventing relapse, helping you process the causes and outcomes of cocaine addiction with the expert guidance of a clinical professional.

Finally, Prepare To Welcome Them Back

Social support after treatment is one of the best predictors of success in sobriety. If the addicted person does not live with you or stays elsewhere during treatment, make preparations to adjust to their new needs before seeing them again.

This may include hiding reminders of cocaine use, creating a substance-free living environment, finding local Narcotics Anonymous (NA) chapters, or brainstorming sober activities to do together when you see them again.

Simple acts like this communicate your solidarity and care for the mental health of your loved one and ensure that recovery is sustainable, supportive, and connected.

Contact Us Today

If you are worried about a loved one or friend, contact Empowered Recovery Center today. We can support you in helping them by providing you with a wealth of information surrounding our services.

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