In Cocaine Addiction, Family Resources, Personal Resources

Cocaine is a dangerous substance capable of wreaking havoc on the human body.

While it may lead to a rush of euphoria initially, its long-term use is typically accompanied by a mess of physical health problems. Unfortunately, because it is so addictive, many people are unable to stop, and these issues just get worse. One such problem is cocaine-induce rhabdomyolysis.

What is Rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis is a name for the breakdown of muscle tissue that results in the release of a damaging protein called myoglobin into the bloodstream. Over time, this protein can cause serious damage to the kidneys and in rare cases, may even lead to death if untreated. Typically, rhabdomyolysis is preceded by myopathy, which is less severe but still dangerous.

Rhabdomyolysis may occur for a variety of reasons including a serious injury, prolonged immobilization, powerful electric shock, heat stroke, seizures, or even drug use. Drugs that cause rhabdomyolysis may include meth, MDMA, alcohol, cocaine, and others.

Drug-Induced rhabdomyolysis symptoms may include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain and tenderness
  • Dark or reddish urine
  • Fatigue1

Rhabdomyolysis from Cocaine Use

Cocaine is a highly addictive and dangerous drug. The long-term effects of cocaine may include a multitude of health problems such as cardiovascular issues, brain damage, and rhabdomyolysis.

One study suggests that about 24% of regular cocaine users will develop rhabdomyolysis.2 This is thought to in part be the result of how cocaine interferes with the production and use of ATP, an energy-carrying molecule.3

Although experienced by almost a quarter of users, cocaine-induced rhabdomyolysis does not happen overnight. At first, users will start to notice a correlation between their use of cocaine and muscle pain. These cocaine body aches will gradually start to become more severe and frequent as abuse continues. If they do not go to a cocaine addiction treatment center to stop, they will most likely develop cocaine-induced myopathy. Myopathy is a precursor to cocaine-induced rhabdomyolysis that may still lead to permanent damage in the muscles. If cocaine abuse continues and the myopathy is not treated, it will likely progress into rhabdomyolysis. At this point, cocaine-induced rhabdomyolysis could ultimately lead to renal failure without proper medical attention.

Treating Cocaine-Induced Rhabdomyolysis

Because rhabdomyolysis is a severe medical condition, it is important to get treatment at the first signs of trouble. The first step to recovery is stopping cocaine abuse to keep the problem from getting worse. Because this is easier said than done, a medical detox and treatment program can help.

Outside of getting clean, treatment of cocaine-induced rhabdomyolysis typically includes an aggressive fluid replacement therapy to prevent further damage to the kidneys. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary. If caught early enough, some of this damage may be able to be reversed. If treatment is delayed, there may be lasting damage.

Unfortunately, not everyone will get help right away for an addiction. All too often, people will wait until the damage is already done. Do not let this happen to you or a loved one. Our drug and alcohol treatment center near Scranton, Pennsylvania, helps people overcome their addictions and work toward healthier lives.


If you or a loved one is ready to take that first step, call 570-536-9621.  At Clearbrook Treatment Centers, we want to help you find long-term success.



  1. Wiley Online Library- Recognition and management of drug-induced rhabdomyolysis
  2. Journal of Family Medicine and Disease Prevention- Acute Rhabdomyolysis and Acute Cocaine Intoxication
  3. ASM- Drug-Induced Rhabdomyolysis
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