What Cocaine Does to Your Brain Chemistry

Medical professionals are learning more and more about how cocaine affects brain chemistry, and the results are alarming. Cocaine abuse can cause chemical imbalances in the brain, which can lead to euphoria or a high that is typically experienced. The brain’s neurons send and receive neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which is associated with acknowledging when experiences are pleasurable. When people eat enjoyable foods, dopamine is transmitted between different neurons to communicate that the food was good. The space between neurons is known as a synapse: in a normal brain, the dopamine is sent out from one neuron and received by another, while the excess or unused amounts of dopamine are taken back by the original neuron and stored for later use. When cocaine enters the picture, it sends out a flood of dopamine to block the brain from taking back the excess and reusing it. The synapse between neurons is therefore left with a flood of dopamine, which is what causes the state of euphoria or high. Synapses are generally shut off after a transmission of dopamine, and the blockage caused by cocaine disrupts the normal communication process within the brain.

This change can lead to any of the following problems:

  • Negative changes in the brain’s reward system can lead to addiction
  • Tolerance to cocaine’s effects build, which means users need larger amounts of the drug to achieve the same effects
  • The risk of fatal overdose is significantly increased as tolerance to cocaine builds
  • Excessive amounts of neurotransmitters can cause some neurons to become overstimulated and die, which is similar to what happens in a stroke
  • Cocaine can stifle blood flow to certain areas of the brain, which causes brain cells not to function properly, which can lead to mini strokes
  • Sections of the brain that regulate decision making are damaged, because recovering addicts continue to struggle with cravings and relapse due changes in brain chemistry
  • Eventually, the brain cannot produce dopamine on its own, which means cocaine addicts can no longer find pleasure in everyday activities
  • Binge sessions can cause users to experience paranoia, panic, psychosis and hallucinations
  • Risk of aneurysms are more likely to occur in cocaine users, which can lead to stroke, coma and seizures

Seek out immediate treatment from licensed professionals for help overcoming cocaine abuse, because doing so can help you avoid the serious risks of continued use. The likelihood of a healthy recovery is highly increased through professional treatment at an inpatient rehab facility.

Help Finding Treatment for Cocaine Abuse

If you or someone you know struggles with cocaine abuse and needs help, then please call our toll-free helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are standing by 24 hours day to help you find a treatment program that will work for you. Begin your road to recovery now and call us today.

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