Addiction | 6 min read

Coke Nose: Side Effects, How To Spot It, & What To Do If You Or A Loved One Is Struggling With An Addiction

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On August 26, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On July 3, 2022

Coke Nose
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Cocaine is an incredibly powerful drug that is not only highly addictive but has serious physical and psychological side effects on a person suffering from an addiction to cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant drug made from the leaves of a plant native to South America called the coca plant.

Recreational use of cocaine is illegal, so it is referred to as a street drug. Cocaine is generally a white crystal powder but can also come in a crystallized form called crack cocaine. Cocaine is often mixed with other drugs or white powders to increase profits for the drug dealer. A white powder like talcum powder, flour, or cornstarch is very popular.

Some dealers may mix their cocaine with other stimulants or synthetic opioids. It is very common for cocaine to have fentanyl added to it. Although there are many different ways to consume cocaine, such as intravenously or smoked, snorting is the most popular method of consumption.

As you can imagine, snorting a crystallized, fine powder into the nose repeatedly can cause serious damage to the person using the drug. This is when something called “coke nose” can occur. Coke nose is a sign of a larger addiction to cocaine, symbolizing that cocaine usage is affecting the person’s physical health and likely psychological and emotional health.

Please read on to learn more about coke nose, how to spot coke nose, and what to do if you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to cocaine.

What Is Coke Nose?: How To Spot Coke Nose

As stated earlier, cocaine can be consumed by snorting the powder through the nose. This is how many people choose to get high on cocaine. However, this method of consumption can cause some serious problems physically. The most common occurrence because of snorting cocaine is a coke nose.

Coke nose is the name of the damage done to the nasal passages and nose caused by long-term cocaine consumption through snorting. Coke nose occurs because snorting cocaine can constrict or close blood vessels. So when the cocaine is snorted in through the nose, it can cause the blood vessels within the nasal passage to constrict or close. Over time, chronic usage of cocaine can cause a prolonged constriction of the blood vessels within the nasal passage lining. This is serious, dangerous, and has extreme consequences on the rest of the nose and nasal passages.

Prolonged constriction of the blood vessels in the nasal passage can cause tissue death within the nasal passages. Tissue death can result in sores that line the nasal passages and septum. These sores can cause perforations in the septum and put the individual at a greater risk of contracting an infection in their nose or nasal passages.

Often, this tissue death and the sores can cause the cartilage that supports the nose to break down, causing disfigurement of the nose. Scarring can also occur. Eventually, the nose cannot support itself anymore, and it collapses within itself.

How To Spot Coke Nose

The deformities caused by chronic and lengthy cocaine use are fairly varied but typically have the same basic appearance. The nose appears to collapse due to the loss of cartilage and the tissue desk. The cocaine nose does not look too scary from the outside and appears as a smushed nose. Still, on the inside, the lining of the nasal passages, the nasal passages themselves, septum, sinuses, and throat are all seriously affected by coke nose.

The easiest way to spot and identify a coke nose is by its telltale smushed appearance. Coke nose is characterized because it appears like the nose has been smashed in towards the face. So instead of the nose coming to a point near the septum, the nose is flat against the skin or does not protrude as it should.

Side-Effects & Risks Of Coke Addiction & Coke Nose

Coke nose is a serious side effect of cocaine usage; therefore, it needs to be treated as such. Not only is coke nose considered a cosmetic issue, but it can cause serious issues with breathing. Coke nose is known to cause problems with how air is humidified as it goes through the trachea and into the lungs.

The issue is that the internal damages to the natural breathing processes are permanent. The good news is that it can be restricted through cosmetic surgery, but that does not always mean that the issues caused by the coke nose will be fixed.

Most of the issues caused by coke nose are caused by long-term cocaine usage, typically seen in extreme addicts. However, cocaine can cause damage to a person’s nose and nasal passages very quickly and easily. A few uses can cause much damage without the user even realizing it.

Short-term cocaine use is often characterized by runny noses, nosebleeds, sneezing, nasal congestion, and fidgeting with the nose or nasal passages. Many people who use cocaine will also develop scabs in and around their noses or nostrils, experience difficulty breathing, or experience an increased number of sinus infections.

Although these are not signs of coke nose, they are signs that the cocaine use is reaching a point where their nose is struggling to keep up with the amount of cocaine being used. Over a long time, with regular and extreme cocaine usage, these short-term symptoms can develop into a coke nose and permanently damage the person’s nose and nasal passages.

In addition, the nose, throat, and ears are all connected within the body. Therefore, damage to the nose has a ripple effect on the ears and throats’ ability to do their jobs properly.

Coke nose can also cause some serious self-esteem issues. Even as a person is recovering from their addiction to cocaine, looking in the mirror every day and seeing the physical deformity caused by their addiction to a drug may be a serious psychological trigger.

Triggers are images, sounds, environments, people, or other sensory inputs that cause an individual to think about an event or time of their life that had an impact on them. Many people have triggers associated with traumatic events in their life. Drug use and drug addiction are often considered traumatic events in many people’s lives because they take such an emotional, psychological, and physical toll on the individual and their life.

When a person is in recovery, they must avoid the triggers that cause them to think about their addiction and drug use. This can help them avoid relapsing and prevent them from turning to drugs again.

Side-Effects & Risks Of Coke Addiction & Coke Nose

However, if an individual looks in the mirror every morning and sees the results of their addiction on their face as a physical deformity, they may feel extremely self-conscious, embarrassed, ashamed, and triggered by this image. People must avoid triggers, but how can a person avoid their face?

Therefore, individuals suffering from the side effects of long-term and chronic cocaine usage and who have the physical deformity of a coke nose may feel drawn towards using cocaine again to cope with feelings of embarrassment or humiliation.

This is not to say that every person with a coke nose will relapse and cannot get sober, but it can be a huge roadblock in achieving the satisfaction they wish to have with their life. Sobriety and recovery is a very long and complicated road for many people who have struggled with addiction in their life, and often memories of their past mistakes and addictions can be difficult to manage.

What To Do If You Or A Loved One Has Coke Nose

If you believe a loved one has a coke nose, the most important thing to do is discuss your concerns. They may feel like they are struggling and they don’t know where to turn, or they do not know who they can trust. Be a safe space and ask them if they are struggling with addiction.

If you have a coke nose due to cocaine addiction or chronic usage, finding reliable resources is the first step towards getting out of this time of your life. Talk to your friends and family and build a social circle that can give you the morale boost you need to take these scary and important steps towards a better life.

The best way to beat addiction and live your life healthy and happy is to go to a professional care facility and detox in a safe and medically supervised environment. You deserve the opportunity to get well. So reach out to a top drug detox facility to get on the path to a better tomorrow today.

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Amanda Stevens


Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. Read more

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