Cocaine Effects

Cocaine has powerful negative effects on the heart, brain and emotions. The results of smoking or injecting cocaine can be nearly instantaneous, and these immediate effects wear off in 30 minutes to two hours. Smoking or injecting cocaine results in a faster and shorter high, compared to snorting coke. The results of smoking or injecting cocaine can be nearly instantaneous. Whatever the method of taking it in, cocaine quickly enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. Cocaine produces its powerful high by acting on the brain. Deep in the brain, cocaine interferes with the chemical messengers, neurotransmitters that nerves use to communicate with each other. Cocaine blocks the normal function of dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and neurotransmitters from being reabsorbed. The effect of this chemical buildup between nerves causes euphoria or feeling “high.” Feeling high can lead to an extremely elevated mood, sense of energy and alertness or a feeling of supremacy. Some may see these as “positive” euphoric effects of cocaine. On the other hand, others would describe the high having effects of high irritability, paranoia, restlessness, and anxiety.

Cocaine’s Effects on the Body

The reality of this highly addictive stimulant hits after the high. As cocaine travels through the blood, it affects the whole body. Cocaine harms the brain, heart, blood vessels, and lungs — and can even cause sudden death. Cocaine is responsible for more U.S. emergency room visits than any other illegal drug (See signs off a cocaine overdose).

The effects of addictive cocaine use travel all through the body. Here is what happens in the body:

  • Cocaine is very bad for the heart. It increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting the arteries supplying blood to the heart. The result can be a heart attack, even in young people without heart disease. Cocaine can also trigger a deadly abnormal heart rhythm called arrhythmia, killing instantly.
  • The harmful effects of cocaine once it hits the brain include causing strokes due to constricting of blood vessels. Cocaine causes seizures and can lead to bizarre or violent behavior.
  • Snorting cocaine can cause damages in the nose and sinuses, and regular use can cause nasal perforation.
  • Smoking crack cocaine irritates the lungs and, in some people, causes permanent lung damage.
  • Cocaine can also cause long term effects in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • The results of oxygen starvation can cause ulcers, or even perforation of the stomach or intestines.
  • Cocaine can cause sudden, overwhelming kidney failure through a process called rhabdomyolysis.
  • In people with high-blood pressure, regular cocaine use can accelerate the long-term kidney damage caused by high blood pressure.

Dependence and Psychological Effects of Cocaine

There are also psychological effects of cocaine use. Cocaine acts in the deep areas of the brain and these are the ones that reward us for “good behavior.” Those activities lead to food, sex and healthy pleasure. And it can create a powerful craving to use more cocaine.

Repeated cocaine use leads to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Many cocaine users fall prey to addiction and life threatening consequences. There is no “safe” frequency of use for cocaine. It’s impossible to predict whether a person will become physically or psychologically dependent on cocaine. When dependence is present, stopping cocaine suddenly leads to withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal from a cocaine problem are more psychological than physiological.

Typically, cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Increased craving for more cocaine

Physical symptoms can include aches, pains, tremors, and chills. Cocaine withdrawal is rarely medically serious. In certain people, withdrawal from cocaine may cause suicidal thoughts. Typically, withdrawal symptoms from cocaine addiction resolve within one to two weeks.

There are two distinct categories of cocaine effects: short-term effects and long-term effects. Even if a person has only used cocaine once, he/she can experience short-term cocaine effects. Long-term cocaine effects appear after increased periods of use and are dependent upon the duration of time and amount of cocaine that has been consumed. Some short-term cocaine effects first time users experience includes increased energy, decreased appetite, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Dilated pupils, increased temperature and mental alertness are also signs to immediate cocaine use. People who try cocaine often get hooked to the short-term cocaine effects, namely feeling as though they have increased energy. The quick high keeps users feeling energetic and able to endure longer in physical activities. New cocaine users often try cocaine to increase productivity at work and in other areas of their lives so that they can work longer and harder. While these results may seem promising in the beginning, increased tolerance and dangerous life choices often follow repeated cocaine use. This leads to the more long term effects listed above.

If you or someone you know needs cocaine rehab treatment, we are here to help. Please call our toll free number. We are here to answer your questions on cocaine treatment and recovery.

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