The effects of cocaine on social skills are often negative, as a person who abuses this drug will actually find socializing less enjoyable.
Article at a Glance:
People may begin to use cocaine to help them feel more social at parties and other social gatherings, but over time, it can interfere with social functioning.
Short-term effects of cocaine use include extreme happiness and increased energy, which may make people feel more sociable, but cocaine can also make people paranoid and violent, which has a negative effect on social interactions.
Cocaine abuse can change a person’s behavior and personality in ways that make it difficult to connect with others, making social interactions less enjoyable.
The Cocaine Party & Lifestyle
In active cocaine addiction, most users believe that using enhances their social experiences. For me, I looked at cocaine as a necessity to my partying because I thought it fueled my ability to drink more, feel cooler and engage in more spontaneous behavior and conversation.
When you first start using cocaine, especially for its social effects, it can appear that it’s helping you make new relationships and increasing your chances for fun. Cocaine’s effects can make people feel like they are invincible but over time, as addiction develops, cocaine use can actually interfere with social functioning.
Social Effects of Cocaine Use
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cocaine can increase energy levels and produce extreme happiness, but it can also cause the following unpleasant side effects over the short-term like:
- Extreme sensitivity to noises and sights
- Irritable behavior
- Bizarre and violent behavior when taken in large doses
With long-term use, a person who abuses cocaine may become extremely paranoid and experience hallucinations, which may make them appear out of touch with reality and lead to difficulty interacting with others. While a person may become more gregarious after a dose of cocaine, addiction is likely to have negative effects on social skills, especially if the person becomes suspicious of others and engages in potentially violent behavior.
7 Social Consequences of Cocaine
After getting sober and reflecting on my cocaine use, I realized how horrible it actually is for creating connections with others in a genuine way. Cocaine is truly not a benefit to socializing, contrary to popular belief.
Here are some reasons why.
As people drink and use cocaine together, they cross paths with others doing the same. If you use cocaine, you are likely to find yourself in random places, with random people, having random conversations. These people can feel like friends, and they are usually nice people.
The issue is that party friends are not often real friends and, when the party is over they are typically not who you interact with on a regular basis outside of the party. They are not the people you call when life knocks you down or you need a helping hand. The friendships you tend to make under the influence of cocaine are not the same friendships you will call on when things get tough or life happens.
I remember after getting sober I realized that a lot of the “friends” I thought I had were nowhere to be found. This is actually a blessing because one of the key rules of recovery is to avoid the people associated with your drug use, so forming lasting friendships with those you used to use cocaine with is not advisable.
Let’s be honest; we are all seeking connection in our lives. This is a huge factor in why people drink and use cocaine in the first place. People use because they are looking to connect with others and themselves in ways they don’t realize they can without substances.
The problem with socializing with cocaine is that you make inauthentic connections with people that often are disguised as the intimate type of connection we are all truly looking for in life.
I can think back to so many times that I thought I was having engaging conversations with others, but in the end, I realized it was just the drugs talking. While I value everyone I met on my party path and believe we connected on the level of sharing a high together, I know now that the connections I thought I was making weren’t the authentic kind I really desired.
Being sober has helped me to see what true authentic connection with others feels like and has shown me the stark contrast between these kinds of connections and the ones I made while I was using cocaine. I can only think of a handful of people who I used to party with who I still am in contact with to this day, 9 years later. This goes to show you that those connections weren’t the ones I would take with me on my life journey.
Along with the rush from cocaine also comes the complimentary anxiety. It happens while you are in social settings, and it also happens when you start to come down from a cocaine binge. If you have social anxiety, you feel a level of anxiousness that takes you out of the moment in most settings and conversations. It can be extremely distracting and can make you talk over people or lose attention very quickly. It takes away from socializing because anxiety can consume a person’s thoughts.
Not only that, but as you come down and experience withdrawal after a cocaine binge, it makes your interactions harder because you experience anxiety on that side of the drug too, which can make users moody and irritable.
Finding recovery from cocaine addiction has helped me find relief from anxiety. It has shown me that I much prefer to be fully present and calm in social settings. My experience is not uncommon, as research has shown that cocaine use is linked to anxiety disorders.
From conversations to even photographs, cocaine, especially when mixed with alcohol, can cause you to behave and look extremely erratic. Looking back now on the things I used to say and do while under the influence embarrasses me just thinking about it.
Cocaine makes you think no one knows you’re on it, but from the outside looking in, it’s obvious when you are around someone who is using the drug. They talk quickly, move their mouth around, sweat and don’t make eye contact at all.
I also noticed how my face looked in photos while I was under the influence of cocaine, and hardly any photos showed me smiling or looking put-together. In almost all of my pictures, I had a smug face; my pupils were dilated and I looked like a snob. If that’s how I looked in photos, I’m certain that is how I looked to others too. No matter how we frame it, it isn’t a good look.
Cocaine makes you become a self-centered and selfish person subconsciously, whether you realize it or not. You turn into someone who will go to any length to get your next gram or eight ball, even if that means leaving friends or loved ones behind. There were many times when I would completely disappear to the bathroom for an hour, or to find cocaine somewhere without telling anyone else where I was.
Socializing is meant for being social, not being closed off and stuck on a one-way street to find and do cocaine. In this sense, cocaine makes socializing harder. Instead of being focused on others, you become focused on yourself and when you can take your next bump or line.
Over time, people may find that cocaine changes their personalities, which is another way that the drug has a negative effect on socialization. Cocaine abuse can lead to extremely paranoid behavior, so someone who used to be outgoing may isolate themselves from others due to becoming paranoid and distrustful after suffering the effects of cocaine abuse.
Researchers have also discovered that increased cocaine use reduces a person’s ability to empathize with others, so someone who was once kind and considerate of other people may appear rather self-centered or cruel after becoming addicted to the drug. In addition, increased cocaine use is linked to personality disorder symptoms, so it is safe to say that cocaine can have an effect on personality, and can produce unpleasant changes in a person’s disposition.
There is additional evidence that cocaine simply does not benefit socialization. A National Academy of Sciences study found that cocaine users find social interactions to be less rewarding when compared to people who don’t use cocaine. Experts believe this happens because cocaine users come to find drug use rewarding and pleasure associated with natural rewards, like socializing, actually declines.
At the end of the day, cocaine hinders our ability to socialize as our true selves and this blocks us from true friendships, connections, interactions and motives. Cocaine does not showcase who we really are. In fact, it keeps us from understanding who we are and how to be truly social beings.
If you have been using cocaine and find it difficult or impossible to stop, despite problems in your social life, it is time to seek treatment. The Recovery Village has locations around the country and is here to help. We can provide treatment for both addiction and co-occurring mental illnesses, such as anxiety, that may occur with cocaine abuse. Contact us today to learn more about our programs.
Aharonovich, Efrat. “The relationship of frequency of cocaine use to substance and psychiatric disorders in the U.S. general population.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, July 27, 2021. Accessed July 30, 2021.
Melemis, Steven M. “Relapse prevention and the five rules of recovery.” Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, September 2015. Accessed July 30, 2021.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cocaine DrugFacts.” April 2021. Accessed July 30, 2021.
Preller, Katrin H., et al. “Functional changes of the reward system underlie blunted response to social gaze in cocaine users.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, February 18, 2014. Accessed July 30, 2021.
Vonmoos, Matthias, et al. “Improvement of Emotional Empathy and Cluster B Personality Disorder Symptoms Associated With Decreased Cocaine Use Severity.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, April 5, 2019. Accessed July 30, 2021.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.