Posted in Addiction on June 26, 2017
Last modified on May 9th, 2019

Behavioral Changes in Teens With Cocaine Addiction

Anyone who starts using the illegal stimulant cocaine as a teenager has significantly increased chances of developing an addiction to the drug. Once it occurs, teenage cocaine addiction can lead to a number of notable changes in everyday behavior. Let’s examine some of the problems most likely to appear.

General Behavioral Changes

Whether or not diagnosable addiction is present, use of cocaine can lead to substantial alterations in the teenage brain’s normal chemical environment. In turn, these alterations can lead to clear changes in behavior. Common examples of these changes include:

  • Bouts of panic (overwhelming, irrational fear that appears without warning)
  • Delusional, often paranoid thinking that makes sense only to the cocaine use
  • Unforeseeable behaviors of any kind that don’t reflect the user’s normal personality

Behavioral Symptoms of Stimulant Use Disorder

Teenage cocaine addiction is one example of a larger condition called stimulant use disorder. In addition to non-addicted cocaine use, this condition includes diagnosable addiction and abuse of all forms of stimulant drugs and medications. A broad range of behavioral changes can occur in a teenager or adult who qualifies for an official stimulant use disorder diagnosis. The list of potential issues includes:

  • Recurring intake of cocaine in situations that clearly endanger the health of the user and/or other people
  • Loss of control over the number of times cocaine is consumed
  • Loss of control over the amount of cocaine consumed at any given time
  • Devotion of large amounts of time to seeking out cocaine
  • The need to spend substantial amounts of time recovering from previous bouts of cocaine use
  • The prioritization of cocaine use over participation in favored activities, and
  • The prioritization of cocaine use over schoolwork or other important personal or social obligations

Changes Common to All Forms of Abuse/Addiction

A teenager who’s addicted to cocaine may also develop certain behavioral changes common in adolescents with all kinds of substance problems. These changes include such things as:

  • Rapidly changing or unstable moods
  • An unexplained decline in the normal level of social communication or interaction
  • Unusually secretive or dishonest behavior
  • Outbursts of anger or hostility
  • An unexplained increase in impulsive behavior
  • Declining drive or personal motivation
  • An increase in truancy
  • Unusually withdrawn or sulky behavior

If any of these changes or symptoms are observed, it’s best to seek cocaine addiction treatment right away.


National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens: Cocaine

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Substance Use Disorders

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids: Is Your Teen Using? Signs and Symptoms of Substance Abuse


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