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Cocaine Tolerance

Can You Build Cocaine Tolerance? Cocaine Tolerance and Withdrawal. Cocaine Tolerance and Dependence. Cocaine Addiction Treatment.

Can You Build a Tolerance to Cocaine?

Cocaine tolerance can manifest even after the first use and can lead to dangerous situations for the user. Powder cocaine is highly addictive and can change the brain’s structure and function if used repeatedly [1]. Once cocaine addiction is present, the problem stacks up exponentially. In general, cocaine is a widely abused drug that individuals use through injection, snorting, or boofing. Treating cocaine withdrawal can involve cocaine detox and therapy in hospitals, therapeutic communities, or inpatient drug rehab settings.

Crack is another type of cocaine made of cocaine hydrochloride that has been processed with baking soda or ammonia and water into a form called “freebase”. The mixture is cooled and filtered, and the “chips, chunks, or “rocks” are smoked in a crack pipe. Is there a difference between cocaine and crack cocaine? There are no pharmacological differences between powder cocaine and crack cocaine, except crack is cheaper. This means that they are nearly identical and produce similar results. When smoked, crack produces a very fast and intense feeling of euphoria. Unfortunately, this feeling is extremely harmful, not to mention it often leads to crack addiction.

What is drug tolerance? Drug tolerance is a person’s diminished response to a drug, which occurs when the drug is used repeatedly, and the body adapts to the continued presence of the drug. When you become tolerant to a drug, you require higher doses to experience the original drug effect. Repeated use of cocaine can cause not only addiction but also cocaine tolerance, meaning that the individual must use more to try and reach the initial high they first felt [2].

cocaine tolerance
 Users who have developed cocaine tolerance report a loss of the pleasurable feeling that they desire to achieve by taking the drug.

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Is Cocaine Physically Addictive? 

Unlike heroin or other narcotics, cocaine has no outward physical withdrawal symptoms. Some users addicted to cocaine undergoing withdrawal have reported fatigue and sleep disturbances, but overall, cocaine’s addictive qualities may not occur in the body. While cocaine has no proven physically addictive qualities, it can still affect the body in other ways. 

Long-term use of cocaine may cause:

  • Cocaine overdose. In general, cocaine overdose depends on a person’s tolerance to cocaine. it takes a different dose of cocaine to cause an overdose in any person. Anything higher than five grams has been proven to cause heart attacks.
  • Cocaine and the heart. Cocaine use is always potentially deadly. The effects of crack cocaine increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. All of these changes strain your cardiovascular system.
  • Cocaine effects on the brain. Heavy cocaine use can lead to seizure disorders and other neurological conditions. Cocaine use slows the glucose metabolism in your brain as well. That can cause the neurons in your brain to work more slowly or die off.
  • Cocaine and depression. Cocaine use can cause damage to mental health. Cocaine directly interferes with dopamine being reabsorbed by neurons. One of the symptoms of a crack cocaine comedown is severe depression. 
  • Sex and cocaine. Cocaine is a potent dopamine agonist, and chronic crack abuse may result in hyperprolactinemia or a dopamine deficiency with sexual dysfunction. Crack cocaine and alcohol often leads to decreased libido and performance.
  • Cocaine perforated septum. A cocaine perforated septum or a “cocaine septum hole” is a condition that is commonly caused by sniffing or snorting cocaine through the nose. What does cocaine smell like?

Even sporadic use can lead to health complications such as high blood pressure, hardened arteries, bowel gangrene, and loss of gray matter in the brain due to the expansion of the brain’s reward center. Because cocaine eliminates appetite, many who use cocaine are also malnourished.

cocaine tolerance
The way to know cocaine tolerance has been reached and exceeded is that the user needs a regular supply of the drug to maintain normal behavior. 

Is Cocaine Mentally Addictive?

This is where cocaine hooks you because it all happens in your head. Cocaine interacts with dopamine receptors in the brain each time you use it, increasing dopamine levels and boosting the central nervous system. Cocaine is a drug that frequently results in overdosing, and high levels of use since users take more and more to attain the desired high, which can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. The brain’s regular dopamine communication breaks down due to this frequent use. 

In the end, it alters how the brain processes rewards and prevents the user from appreciating the things in life that used to bring them joy, such as delicious food, the company of friends, or their preferred book or movie. Things they formerly enjoyed lost their importance, and they now only care about getting more cocaine and high to feel good. 

As a result, many cocaine users between highs or trying to quit might experience significant despair, leading to suicidal thoughts and the possibility of self-inflicted harm. Anxiety, agitation, hostility, irritability, paranoia, and mood changes are frequent withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine is sometimes referred to as the “rich man’s drug” therefore, people are psychologically and financially impacted. Due to the enormous costs, some become bankrupt, while others borrow money from friends and family and cannot repay it.

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How Does Tolerance To Cocaine Develop?

Each time a person uses cocaine, the amount needed to achieve the desired level of euphoria or “high” increases. Many researchers state cocaine tolerance starts with the first dose, and cocaine users take more and more trying to attain the same euphoric rush experience on the first use. Euphoria is directly connected to the body’s dopamine “reward” system.

This reward system makes the cocaine user feel very good. Each time cocaine is taken into the body, the brain releases a smaller amount of dopamine. To get a larger dopamine release to feel that large euphoria, the user has to take a greater amount of the drug. This is how cocaine tolerance develops and quickly becomes an addiction.

The psychological dependency produced by continued cocaine use is nearly impossible to overcome without drug addiction treatment, therapy, rehab, and counseling. Recovery from cocaine addiction also requires the person’s commitment to getting well and accepting a new lifestyle that embraces sobriety.

What Does Cocaine Tolerance Look Like?

Cocaine tolerance can develop as the need for more cocaine to achieve the euphoric effect. Cocaine is a compulsive and dangerous drug, and intense cravings for this drug can indicate problems. The insidious nature of cocaine abuse is that the more cocaine you use, the more cocaine you want.

During a cocaine binge, it takes more and more cocaine to squeeze out less and less dopamine, the chemical responsible for cocaine euphoria. Eventually, no dopamine is left, and the user has to wait several days before there is enough to get high again. However, tolerance to cocaine may not be obvious due to the tendency to mix cocaine and alcohol or other drugs such as heroin (speedball drug).

Cocaine Reverse Tolerance

Experiencing cocaine tolerance may also mean that individuals eventually experience the reverse effect with regular use, meaning that eventually, after a certain amount of use, they may take so much that they feel the intensity of the drug causing life-threatening effects.

According to research from the National Institute of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “reverse tolerance” was produced in rats and mice by repeated exposure to either cocaine or amphetamine. The locomotorstimulant effect was studied in mice and convulsions in rats.

With cocaine abuse, a condition known as cocaine sensitization can occur in which a person experiences a form of “reverse tolerance”. Once the person has become tolerant to the effects of cocaine, it can have a reverse effect which can cause serious health problems such as cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, and cocaine overdose.

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Cocaine Tolerance and Dependence

There is proof that cocaine is highly addictive after repeated use. People who consistently use cocaine may become dependent on it and tolerant to it, requiring greater doses to produce the same effects. Cocaine dependence can be either psychologically or physically based or both. People dependent on cocaine find that using the drug becomes far more critical than other activities in their life. They crave the drug and find it very difficult to stop using it.

Individuals who are psychologically dependent on this drug may feel an urge to use it when they are in specific surroundings or socializing with friends. Physical dependence happens when a person’s body adapts to cocaine and gets used to functioning with the cocaine present.

Cocaine Tolerance and Withdrawal

A person addicted to cocaine who has developed a physical and psychological dependence on it may experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms when quitting. During cocaine withdrawal, the former user will often experience many uncomfortable symptoms, such as paranoia, depression, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, or vivid, unpleasant dreams.

The psychological and physical symptoms of cocaine withdrawal will vary depending on many individual factors, such as the user’s cocaine tolerance, metabolism, length of cocaine addiction, the severity of addiction, and the presence of underlying mental health conditions or other addictions.

Common acute cocaine tolerance and withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Unpleasant dreams
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes

PAWS may include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation or shaking
  • Cravings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Anger or emotional outbursts
cocaine tolerance
Once the cocaine tolerance level has been reached, the jump from a cocaine user to a cocaine addict is a very short distance.

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How Dangerous Can A Cocaine Tolerance Be?

How fast and severely a person develops a tolerance depends on the dose, duration, and frequency of cocaine use. The more a person uses cocaine and continues to build doses, the higher the cocaine tolerance will rise. Users who have developed cocaine tolerance report a loss of the pleasurable feeling that they desire to achieve by taking the cocaine. This is because this drug induces the release of dopamine in the brain, a chemical that is associated with the reward pathway.

Physical effects should also be a concern, as increased doses of cocaine can cause gastrointestinal complications, headaches, and malnourishment due to decreased appetite. On an even more severe level, cocaine-related deaths are often caused by strokes or heart attack, and by increasing dosage increase your risk of overdose.

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Cocaine Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think a loved one is abusing crack, you should research its drug and addiction to understand better what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment.  Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process. In addition, crack overdose can have severe physical and psychological effects, so seeking treatment as soon as possible is essential. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you promptly get through the early stages of withdrawal.

Cocaine Detox Treatment

Medical crack detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of crack withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to crack use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete crack detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of crack withdrawals.


Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Solution-focused therapy is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Take Control of Your Life

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

cocaine tolerance
If you are struggling with an addiction to cocaine and have noticed signs of cocaine tolerance, it could be time to seek cocaine addiction treatment,
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[1] NIDA –
[2] NIDA –
[3] What Is Cocaine Made Of? – We Level Up NJ