Tolerance to cocaine

Tolerance to cocaine develops rapidly, especially with continual heavy use. More on how people develop tolerance to cocaine and whether or not you can lower cocaine tolerance here.

minute read

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. After even a single use, an appreciable initial tolerance to the euphoric high caused by cocaine may develop. In fact, many cocaine users report that they have never been able to achieve the same level of euphoria and pleasure that was achieved during their first cocaine exposure.  Yes, you cocaine can be addictive the first time you use it.

However, cocaine is psychologically habit forming, particularly with heavy or frequent use. In fact, people who use cocaine regularly can develop dependence and tolerance to it, which means they need to take larger amounts of cocaine to get the same effect.

So, when do people become tolerant to cocaine, exactly? What are symptoms of developing tolerance to cocaine and is it possible to lower your tolerance? We explore here. And invite your questions about cocaine at the end.

Developing tolerance to cocaine

What is drug tolerance? Tolerance is defined as an attenuation of a drug’s effects, most often following repeated or prolonged exposure. When you become tolerant to a drug, you require higher doses to experience the original drug effect.

Initial tolerance to cocaine develops rapidly with continual heavy use. But after this initial level of tolerance is reached, people who use cocaine don’t appear to develop tolerance for increasing amounts. Regular users may in fact develop a ‘reverse tolerance’, whereby they experience the effects of the drug more intensely. This is also known as cocaine sensitization. Cocaine sensitization can lead to life-threatening effects such as:

  • cardiac arrest
  • cocaine overdose at very low dosages
  • respiratory failure

Cocaine tolerance symptoms

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

In the course of a cocaine binge, it takes more and more cocaine to squeeze out less and less dopamine, the chemical responsible for cocaine euphoria. Eventually, there is no dopamine 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 with other drugs such as heroin and alcohol.

Cocaine tolerance: How long?

Not all cocaine users build tolerance in the same way or during the same timeline. While some cocaine users build up a classic tolerance to the drug, requiring an increased dosage to achieve the same high, other cocaine users become more sensitive to the substance. The short duration of effects is one reason leading to probability of increased tolerance to cocaine. Relative to other drugs of abuse, cocaine does not stay in the system a long time. As effects wear off, more drugs are frequently administered and a pattern of repeated use occurs.

High tolerance to cocaine

Often, users increase the frequency and amount of cocaine consumption due to a quickly developed tolerance to the drug’s effects. With extensive use of cocaine, the brain adapts, becoming less sensitive to the drug and natural dopamine production. Many cocaine abusers report constantly seeking but failing to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their initial experience on the drug.

Over time, an individual can build up a high tolerance to cocaine, and require a larger dosage of the substance to experience the same initial high.  Individuals affected by a build-up of cocaine tolerance may seek to increase their dosage, as well as frequency of use, in an effort to attain the perceived desired effect. This desire leads to the use of extremely high dosages of cocaine, significantly increasing one’s risk of serious health consequences, and/or sudden death.

How to lower tolerance to cocaine?

Many users are initially drawn to cocaine because of the drug’s potential “high” – the euphoric feeling associated with the illegal substance. Each person’s “high” has a different longevity, and is based not only on the quantity of cocaine absorbed, but also on the route of absorption (i.e., injected, smoked, snorted). For example, the high produced after smoking cocaine is often very intense, but also short lived. The high from smoking cocaine may only last five or ten minutes, which is a very short period of time considering cocaine’s potentially fatal risks.

However, there is some debate to whether or not original euphoric effect can be achieved if cocaine consumption is slowed down or stopped for a period of time.  The risk of lowering and then increasing doses of cocaine is overdose.  Some signals that cocaine overdose has occurred include:

  • abdominal pain
  • agitation, extreme excitability, hostility, or delusions
  • chills
  • convulsions
  • hallucinations
  • headache
  • increase in heart rate
  • irregular respiration
  • nausea
  • rise in body temperature
  • vomiting

Building up tolerance to cocaine questions

Please let us know if you still have questions about tolerance to cocaine. If you want to know more, contact us in the comments section below. We will be happy to help and try to respond to all legitimate concerns personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: ADF Drug Facts: Cocaine Tolerance
The University of Rochester: Health Topics on Cocaine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


Leave a Reply to General choyboy Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. General choyboy
    Hey man, I simpatize with you
    I’m been fighting against drugs my whole life
    It may sound cheesy but NA and AA helps A lot. Visiting a psychiatrist also help. But for real? Without vaseline? Is all in the mind. Create a trustful environment with family friends and etc

    Crack is a hell of a drug. This may be an strange advice but consider change crack for coke. Crack is a stub product of cocaine, is refine with extremely toxic elements. Cocaine is less “tainted”. Once you in coke. Change to cannabis, search for damage control. I’m doing it. And believe me, it’s saving me.

  2. I read all these extreme cocaine uses and I consume a bit different. I have re-taken cocaine use for about 18 months already, however I consume about 1 gram over the course of three to four days, but taking tiny snorts throughout the day, so I don’t feel the high but I usually gotta do it. I eat and sleep like anybody not consuming, although I tend to sweat more by now and don’t tolerate hot temps too well. So deadly is this, even though I am aware all drug consumption is dangerous. I just like being in all my sense and the “awakeness” feeling to carry out my day. Although sometimes I think my blood pressure rises and I worry because I know the health risks but I get cozy because it’s so mininal, but it has been almost every single day.

  3. My father passed away recently and I’ve fallen back into the habit, about 3k in 6 months, I know stress can cause addictions to come back but I can’t tell anyone because I promised a lot of people I’d never touch it again. I’m on antidepressants also and worried about the effects

  4. I have been injecting heroine and cocaine for a couple of years now but I no longer feel anything at all?! Sometimes doing it more than once a day but to no effect which did nearly result in an overdose. Is this normal or have I just desensitised myself to the effects?

    1. Hi Sillycow. Your condition seems to be quite serious. Injecting heroin and cocaine together can be life threatening. You should consider reaching out for help. Call 1-877-950-7204 to discuss the possibility of treatment.

  5. I just recently relapsed on shootin coke 3 timesthen crack right now after bein Basically clean for 2 years other then weed but the first 2 times i snorted a gram each then the 3rd time i got a gram n a half n shot it all that night, was fine had a beer or two smoked a few joints fine, then today as i was addicted to heroin 2 n a half years ago i used crack to get off dope n realized i didnt like dope at all i really.loved to shoot.crack so back to the story so i guy n buy a ball of crack 3.5grams, cus after snorting coke.i thought bout shooting it then after shooting coke all i could think about was shooting crack so so far im.finishing off whats left in the spoon ima jack it then get some sleep there’s one more shot in the spoon i think.I have bout a gram left or maybe a lil less so in like a 10hr binge ive busted throw shooting majority smoked a lil of aprox 2.5 to 2.7grams of crack and i havent oded n before i started two weeks.ago i had 0 tolerance n faced a half gram str8 to the dome with in 5mins of.eachother 2 times, i think after this last.shot i wont od ill knock on wood.b4 so i hope this helps.someone gage the amnt they do i felt.a lil weird at times n had my.cousin close by to.make sure but i wouldnt go over 3grams

  6. I see I am tolerant to crack. If i smoke a few pieces, I now get a tight left bicep. Chest feels warm. Dizzy.
    Did I develop coccaine sensitivity?

  7. Iv been smoking crack daily for the past 4-5 months and before that I was smoking maybe 3-4 days per week for about ten years now
    Iv lost almost 100 lbs in the last year I was 290 now a totally different looking person just turned 35
    But iv been able to keep my extreme addiction low key
    Like no one really knows I smoke about a gram throughout my day
    Start off the morning no matter what day it is with about four or five hits n then I’m off to work
    I bring some with me and smoke periodically in the bathroom
    Without a doubt I have very bad feelings of guilt doing this around my co workers and other people so I NEED HELP
    I’m sure my throat and lungs are in danger from the continuous use
    I make a ton of $ and I manage to FEED my addiction like it’s a law ..?? Why can’t I just stop ? I seriously have like 5-7 different guys I can call at ANY time
    I cann have it wherever I am delivered within the hour sometimes within 10 mins
    It’s getting to the point that I don’t even get high besides the rush of the sneakiness I suppose
    Because when I use when I am all alone I freak out at every little sound but when I’m in public or at work around lots of people
    I get this surge of a rush that iv never felt before that makes me appear normal and I don’t know how I can live mylife without it ?? Anyone that can help me with some advice warnings and any guidence would be GREATLY appreciated thank you

  8. You will be fine taking a benzo. That is what they’d give you at the doc. Unfortunately there is nothing that truly beats the high. Be careful though man. I’m seriously trying my hardest and admitting my prob after tonight. My left arm got numb and I was so scared I was going to have a heart attack and I’m only 26 years old. I think it might be okay like once a year as long as you don’t go crazy but I’ve been doing this for the past 10 months (since my Father died…stupid I know) and I’ve noticed my heart rate in the moring before I do anything has gone up a full 10 beats..that’s not good. Plus every night I have a headache unless I take a heavy painkiller which are just as bad for you. So tomorrow is a new day for me and I’m going to my doc to find help getting this shit out of my life. I just have way to bad of an addictive personality to screw with it. Anyway Im babbling but one other thing unfortunately the tolerance we build is just against the high. So you just keep trying to get high all night and end up gone. No fun…I’m going back to my sweet natural cannabis only. Good luck with everything!

  9. I’ve been using cocaine daily for about two weeks, usually in the evening, about a third of a gram. Today I started around nine am and am unsure of how much I’ve consumed so far. I usually take Xanax to stop the craving when I’m ready to stop but I don’t have anymore. 1) is mixing a benzo and coke dangerous and 2) will a higher tolerance decrease my risk of cardiac arrest?

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?