What is Coke Nose

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

Our Facility

Admissions Question?

If you find yourself among the millions of people who battle with addiction and want to stop, chances are you have questions as to where to start. We’re here to help.

Coke Nose

Cocaine has multiple delivery methods that people can use to stimulate its effects on their body and mind, and snorting is one of the most common ways that people use the drug. When someone inhales cocaine, its powerful effects occur within three to five minutes after absorption with 60% of the drug making its way into the bloodstream. 

While this delivery method is effective, it also comes with many risks. On top of the general risks that occur from using cocaine, such as cardiac arrest, you could also cause permanent damage to your nose. Coke nose is a term that you’ll sometimes hear within the recovery community that refers to a collection of symptoms and conditions that occur with frequent or chronic cocaine use.

Taking a look at how cocaine affects your nose can help you identify the signs of substance misuse in your life. Learning about the types of nasal damage that are associated with cocaine use can also serve as inspiration and hope for enjoying a healthier lifestyle in recovery.

Why Do People Use Cocaine?

Considering both the long and short-term risks that are associated with cocaine use, it’s easy to wonder why people might continue to engage in an activity that causes harm to their nose. Many people who use cocaine report feeling stronger, less tired, and having greater endurance. 

Similar to other substances, people might also use cocaine to feel more comfortable in social situations or to alleviate anxiety. People who have a cocaine use disorder frequently have coexisting mental health conditions, but the drug can also cause uncomfortable psychological symptoms that may counteract the “feel-good” effects that someone might be trying to achieve. For instance, one study found that 68% to 84% of the people who used cocaine experience paranoia.

If you currently use cocaine but aren’t sure why, then entering a treatment program can help you identify your triggers. Since the negative effects of cocaine can catch up to you with time, it’s best to find healthier ways to enjoy having more energy or feeling comfortable in social settings. In treatment, you can participate in a fitness and nutrition program that leaves you feeling more energized and confident. Working with a therapist to address anxiety or low self-esteem can also help you feel strong and capable when you’re faced with an upcoming social event.

How Does Cocaine Affect the Body?

Cocaine causes systemic changes within the body that impact multiple organs. As the cocaine reaches your bloodstream, it interferes with blood flow. This can cause cardiac symptoms along with an increased risk of stroke. The decreased blood flow that occurs can further cause damage to your gastrointestinal system, which could lead to ulcers and a loss of appetite. Reduced blood circulation can also impact your body’s immune system and ability to heal, and understanding how this impacts your nasal passages can help explain why cocaine users often experience nose problems.

Why Does Cocaine Hurt Your Nose?

Noses are designed to help you breathe oxygen into your body, and your nasal passages are lined with mucus and small hairs that help to filter out toxins. When you place cocaine directly into your nose, you introduce chemicals that aren’t meant to be there. Even from the first time you use cocaine, the chemicals can cause inflammation to the inner lining of your nose. The small blood vessels in your nose can also be impacted, and the reduced blood flow makes it harder for your nose to heal from the irritation. 

How Common Is Nose Damage From Cocaine?

Damage to your nose is more likely to show up with frequent use, but even recreational users can experience high rates of cocaine-related nose issues. Some people who use cocaine experience nasal symptoms, such as crusting and bleeding

Comparatively, the same study showed that 47% of daily users of cocaine had similar symptoms. Over time, the damage can continue to increase to the point that more severe issues develop, which is why it is important to seek help with a cocaine use disorder in its earliest stages.

What Types of Harm Can Cocaine Cause to Your Nose?

When people use the term “cocaine nose,” they are typically referring to the appearance of one or more of several types of nasal conditions. Using cocaine can lead to the following nose-related health issues:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Sinus infections
  • Nasal perforation
  • Saddle nose

People who use cocaine also tend to sniffle or exhibit signs of a runny nose or congestion immediately after snorting the drug. Redness around the nose is common, and you might feel general itching or an impulse to sneeze.

If you experience the symptoms of a sinus infection or nasal perforation, then you’ll want to be honest with your doctor about your cocaine use. Even with a nasal perforation or saddle nose, catching the issue early can help you achieve a better outcome with your treatment. 

Discussing your cocaine use with a medical professional can also help you identify a potential substance use disorder. We offer substance use assessments along with counseling that can help you find out if you need treatment along with the right type of program to fit your needs. 

Choosing to seek help can stop any nose damage that is occurring in its tracks. Halting the progression of nose damage can preserve your sense of smell along with your appearance. Plus, being able to breathe without stuffiness or congestion feels good and helps to infuse your body with energy.

What Does Cocaine Nose Look Like?

At first, damage to your nose might not immediately be noticeable on the outside of your face. Nosebleeds tend to occur when blood vessels in the inner lining of your nose are damaged, and you may need a medical professional to perform an exam to get an accurate diagnosis of your nasal health.

Nasal perforations create holes in the septum of your nose that may be visible to a medical professional during an exam. People with this condition might also experience whistling noises as they breathe along with discomfort inside of their nose.

On the exterior of your nose, you might be able to see redness, swelling, and small broken capillaries. Saddle nose is another condition that you can often see on the outside of your body since it causes the bridge of your nose to collapse or sag. Although injuries from other sources, certain infections, and autoimmune diseases can also cause saddle nose, cocaine is a common culprit behind this condition. 

Can You Repair the Damage That Occurs From Using Cocaine?

Short-term damage, such as broken capillaries, can repair itself when you give your immune system a chance by quitting cocaine. However, you may need medical treatment for more serious conditions. If you’ve developed a sinus infection, then you might need antibiotics to heal. 

Nasal perforations tend to require surgical care, and this might include cartilage or bone grafts when the damage is severe. For the best results with surgical correction of nasal perforations or saddle nose, doctors recommend making a commitment to quit cocaine. People who have stopped using cocaine for several years tend to have the best outcomes with correcting nose damage that results from their usage. 

How Do You Stop Using Cocaine to Help Heal Your Nose?

In an ideal scenario, you would simply never put cocaine in your body, which eliminates all risk of developing nose damage. But, many people who experiment with cocaine will need professional help to stop their use of the drug.

Currently, there are several effective treatments for cocaine use disorders. While there isn’t a special medication that can end your cravings completely, you could be prescribed medications that help with your withdrawal symptoms, such as sleeplessness and agitation. If you have a coexisting mental health condition, then you might also be able to use medication to manage the symptoms that contribute to your cocaine use.

Behavioral interventions are also beneficial for helping people to stop using cocaine. At our wellness centers, we offer evidence-based treatment programs that take several different forms. For instance, trauma-informed treatment can help you overcome mental health challenges that you may be attempting to self-medicate by using cocaine.

Family care programs allow you to work through relationship issues that your cocaine use has contributed to or that you’ve been blocking out by using the drug. Healing your family relationships gives you a stronger support network that makes it easier to stick to your commitment to end your reliance on cocaine. 

Quitting cocaine also requires you to develop new, healthier habits. You might benefit from taking part in an art or music therapy program. You’ll also find it easier to quit using cocaine when you have wholesome activities to enjoy that require you to stay drug-free, such as attending a sober social event. 

What Are Additional Signs You Need Help Quitting Cocaine?

Naturally, realizing that you are unable to just stop using cocaine on your own is a sign that you need professional assistance. But, you can also look for a few other telltale signs that you have a substance use disorder that goes beyond one-time experimentation.

Dealing with withdrawal symptoms is a sign that you need assistance with quitting cocaine. Some withdrawal symptoms are physical, such as dealing with a loss of appetite or feeling fatigued. Others may be more psychological. 

Experiencing agitation, restlessness or intense cravings are all withdrawal symptoms that could signify that you’ve become dependent on cocaine. In one of our professional treatment programs, you can get help with easing the withdrawal symptoms so that your decision to quit is more likely to be a success.

Feeling worried about nose damage from cocaine is a sign that you might need help managing a substance use disorder. Whether you’ve noticed the signs of cocaine’s effects on your nose already or are hoping to prevent developing a problem, quitting cocaine is your first step towards easing your concerns. 

At Defining Wellness Centers, we offer a wide range of treatment programs that are designed to help people recover from using cocaine at every step of their journey. From planning a safe detox to receiving continuing care for coexisting conditions, you can receive the help you need by making the decision to reach out today.

Begin your Recovery Today

If you are ready to take the step towards a new life, call Defining Wellness today and learn more about how we can help you.