Physical Impact Of Cocaine

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Cocaine, also known as coke, is an illegal and highly addictive drug that is used recreationally. There are several ways an individual ingests cocaine (e.g. inhaled as smoke, snorted, eaten, and/ or injected intravenously). Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. It is a fast-acting nervous system stimulant. It works by sending increased levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain cells) to areas of the brain that reign pleasure, and the excess buildup elicits feelings of energy, alertness and euphoria. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies cocaine as a Schedule II Substance, which is defined as a drug “with a high potential for abuse with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” An individual that abuses cocaine is in effect continuously interfering with his or her brain’s normal communication process. Hence, cocaine abuse can lead to a plethora of short and long-term consequences. 

Short-term Effects of Cocaine

Every individual is different and each individual will respond distinctly to cocaine use. There are many possible short-term effects that can manifest as a result of cocaine abuse. Some of these can include, but are not limited to, the following examples, as provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Raised body temperature
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Tremors and muscle twitches
  • Restlessness
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and/ or touch
  • Mental alertness
  • Elation 
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia 

The effects of cocaine usually begin within a few minutes of use and typically subside within sixty minutes. The severity and duration of short-term effects will depend heavily on the amount of cocaine the individual used and the method of ingestion. 

Long-term Effects of Cocaine

In addition to the possible short-term effects that occur as a result of cocaine use, there are several long-term effects that an individual abusing cocaine is at risk of developing. Many of the long-term effects will be specific to the individual’s method of ingestion. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) provides the following examples:

  • Snorting: chronic cocaine use in this way can damage the inside of one’s nose (e.g. nasal lining, nasal septum, etc.) resulting in septal perforation (i.e. hole in the septum), which separates the nostrils. This condition is more commonly known as “coke nose.” 
    • Loss of smell
    • Frequent runny nose
    • Nosebleeds
    • Problems with swallowing
    • Hoarse voice
  • Smoking
    • Cough
    • Asthma
    • Respiratory distress
    • Increased risk of infections (e.g. pneumonia) 
  • Consuming by mouth
    • Severe bowel decay from reduced blood flow
  • Injecting
    • Skin or soft tissue infections
    • Collapsed veins
    • Scarring
    • Higher risk for contracting blood borne diseases (e.g. HIV, hepatitis C, etc.)

Cocaine is a profoundly addictive substance, and when abused can quickly lead to addiction.  

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one in regards to substance abuse and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.

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