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What is Coke Bloat and How Do You Get Rid of It?

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Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that can cause a strong, energizing high. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, 1.7% (or about 4.8 million people) reported using cocaine in the past 12 months.”[1]

Despite cocaine being so popular, it is highly addictive, and being addicted to cocaine can be harmful to your mind and body. One of the common side effects of cocaine abuse is referred to as coke bloat.

What is Coke Bloat?

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug that is derived from the coca plant found in South America. When someone buys cocaine off the street, it comes in the form of a white powdery substance. Oftentimes, drug dealers mix cocaine with other substances like cornstarch to increase their profit.

“Coke bloat” is a term used to describe puffiness or bloating in someone’s face when they use cocaine. Bloating often occurs in your cheeks or under your chin. While the media often portrays cocaine users as having sunken cheeks, it can actually cause the cheeks to appear bloated.

Why Does Coke Bloat Occur?

There are a few reasons you could develop coke bloat after abusing cocaine. One reason involves hormonal issues and fluid retention in the face. (Adipex) However, coke bloat most commonly occurs when you are using cocaine that is not pure.

Cocaine is often mixed with other substances to increase profits. One of the most common substances to be used as an adulterant in cocaine is levamisole, a veterinary deworming medication. In fact, about 70% of the cocaine tested contained deworming medication for animals.[2]

When a human consumes a deworming medication like levamisole, they could experience a myriad of adverse side effects. Some of these side effects include necrosis of the skin, seizures, or abdominal and joint pain. However, ingesting levamisole can also lead to swollen glands, which can cause facial bloating.

Another reason someone may develop facial bloating after abusing cocaine is inflammation of the nasal passage. Since cocaine is usually snorted, the nasal passages can become irritated and inflamed.[3] Nasal irritation may cause the symptoms of coke bloat.

What is the Difference Between Normal Bloating and Coke Bloat?

Several different medical conditions can cause bloating of the face. Even normal occurrences like lack of sleep or allergies can cause your face to appear a little puffy at times. Additionally, some women experience bloating throughout their bodies during menstruation.

The difference between normal bloating and coke bloat is the cause of the swelling. When you are experiencing coke bloat, the puffiness of your face is directly caused by your use of cocaine. And since cocaine can cause your blood vessels to constrict, fluid can build up in your blood vessels and cause your face to appear puffy.

How to Get Rid of Coke Bloat

The best way to get rid of coke bloat is to stop using cocaine altogether. While coke bloat can be annoying and affect your self-esteem, there are more concerning health effects that you could develop from long-term cocaine abuse. As a result, you must seek professional drug addiction treatment.

While you are waiting to receive treatment for your cocaine addiction, there are a few things you can do to temporarily resolve facial bloating.

  • Massaging your face in a circular motion for 10 minutes each day
  • Use cooling face masks to soothe inflammation
  • Try cold compresses or take a cold shower
  • Use hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation
  • Try using a derma roller on the affected areas of your skin

While these techniques can temporarily reduce coke bloat, they are not a permanent solution. The only way to ensure that your coke bloat resolves is to quit using cocaine. Overcoming a cocaine addiction can be difficult, but with the help of a drug rehab program, you can learn how to maintain long-term sobriety.

Find Help for Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one suffer from cocaine addiction, it’s time to seek help. Whether you are dealing with mild side effects like coke bloat or life-threatening emergencies like frequent overdoses, a drug rehab program can provide you with the tools and support you need to overcome your substance use disorder.

To get connected with a top-rated cocaine addiction treatment center, contact PAX Memphis today.

References:

  1. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States, Retrieved July 2023 From https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
  2. American Therapeutics: Skin Necrosis Caused by Levamisole-Adulterated Cocaine, Retrieved July 2023 From https://journals.lww.com/americantherapeutics/Citation/2021/04000/Skin_Necrosis_Caused_by_Levamisole_Adulterated.21.aspx
  3. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Nasal symptoms associated with cocaine abuse during adolescence, Retrieved July 2023 From https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2909232/