Cocaine eyes have large, dilated pupils and are sometimes bloodshot, but there are many signs and side effects that can indicate someone is using cocaine.

“Cocaine eyes have large, dilated pupils. This occurs because this drug is a stimulant.”

The use of cocaine in the U.S. is unfortunately relatively common, especially among young adults aged 18 to 25. Many risks come with the use of cocaine. These risks include addiction, erratic or violent behavior, changes in the brain and health risks such as sudden cardiac events.

This article covers one of the ways cocaine physically affects a user – cocaine’s effect on eyes.

What Do Cocaine Eyes Look Like?

The terms “cocaine eyes” or “cocaine pupils” indicate how people’s eyes look after taking this drug. The eyes are often an indicator of drug use, because some drugs create very small pinpoint pupils, while other drugs cause pupils to dilate or appear very large.

Cocaine eyes have large, dilated pupils. This occurs because this drug is a stimulant. As endorphins and brain chemicals are released in large amounts, the eyes react by dilating the pupils, thus the term cocaine eyes. When pupils are dilated, they’re incredibly sensitive to light. Something like wearing sunglasses even when other people might not find it that bright can be a sign of cocaine use.

In addition to appearing dilated, eyes on cocaine may also appear bloodshot or red as blood vessels located in the eye expand. Along with looking at pupil size changes, changes in eye movement or the appearance of bloodshot eyes can also show intoxication.

Other Symptoms of Cocaine Use

Since cocaine is a stimulant, individuals high on this drug may appear more talkative, energetic and excited. They may also be more social or sexual due to decreased inhibition. In some people, symptoms of cocaine use can include aggression, delusional thoughts or behaviors or hallucinations.

Some of the short-term physical effects of using cocaine can include: 

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Nausea
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Faster heart rate
  • Higher body temperature
  • Tremors or muscle twitches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Strange sleep patterns
  • Heart attacks
  • Cardiac arrest

Other outward physical symptoms of cocaine use in adults can include a runny nose, nosebleeds, track marks in people who inject the drug and burned lips or fingers in people who smoke it.

When someone is a long-term user of cocaine, or they’ve just been through a period of binging on the drug, symptoms can include depression, feeling agitated or anxious, having cravings, exhaustion, or long periods of sleep.

In general, whether smoking it, snorting it or injecting it, long-term cocaine users will often display symptoms such as nervousness, fatigue without the ability to go to sleep and an overall deterioration of their career and social life.

If you or a loved one live with cocaine addiction or are using cocaine recreationally and want to stop, it’s time to seek professional help. The Recovery Village provides care to those struggling with cocaine. Reach out to one of our knowledgeable representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Eric Patterson, LPC
Eric Patterson is a licensed professional counselor in the Pittsburgh area who is dedicated to helping children, adults, and families meet their treatment goals. Read more

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States?” June 11, 2020. Accessed June 23, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

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.