Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: The risk of cocaine addiction

In Brief

The risk of cocaine addiction

Cocaine is highly addictive, and the addiction develops quickly. But how often, how quickly, and who is most susceptible? A survey shows that the risk of early addiction is not as high as some may think, but women and African Americans are especially vulnerable.

These findings come from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse for 2000–2001. The participants indicated whether they had ever used cocaine, when they had first used the drug, and how often they had used it.

They also reported symptoms of addiction. By the American Psychiatric Association's definition of dependence (another word for addiction), that means at least three of the following: tolerance; a withdrawal reaction; taking more and for longer than intended; wanting or trying unsuccessfully to cut down; spending a great deal of time under the influence of cocaine; giving up other activities and interests for the sake of the drug; and using it despite harmful physical or psychological effects.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »