The health effects of cocaine abuse can be severe since cocaine is a strong stimulant that has a dramatic effect on the body’s central nervous system. Cocaine is abused in different ways including oral, sorting, smoking and injecting. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when cocaine enters the body, it will absorb into the bloodstream and start to take effect immediately. Understanding the short- term and long – term effects of cocaine is important for the person thinking about using the drug, already addicted to the drug or a loved one of a cocaine user.
Short – Term Effects of Cocaine
When cocaine is used, it interferes with the absorption of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical found in the brain that is associated with pleasure and movement. The effects of cocaine take place almost immediately after a single hit. It is common for the effects to start to take place and not disappear for a few minutes to several hours. A smaller dose of cocaine can cause the person to feel energetic, talkative, euphoric and make the user become more alert to many different sensations such as mental, sight, sound and touch. Many people who use cocaine will experience no desire for food or sleep.
The physiological effects of cocaine are dilated pupils, increased body temperature, increased heart rate and high blood pressure. If the user took in a larger hit of cocaine, they may experience more bizarre and violent behavior. It is common for users to feel very restlessness, irritable and have severe spouts of anxiety and panic attacks.
Medical complications can also be caused by use of cocaine. Heart attacks, strokes, seizures, severe headaches and slipping into coma are some of the cardiovascular effects of cocaine. Cocaine related deaths are also often a results of cardiac arrest. It is common for a user to also combine alcohol with their cocaine use. When the two are combined, more severe side effects can occur, including sudden death.
Long – Term Effects of Cocaine
Since cocaine is one of the most addicting drugs, it is often the hardest for a person to stop taking the drug altogether. Once a user has recovered, their chances of relapsing is higher than any other drug. When a person keeps on using the drug, their brain will trigger them to have tremendous cravings, causing them to want to take the drug more frequently and in higher doses. When the exposure is repeated, the brain will start to adapt.
When the user starts to take cocaine in “binges”, the cocaine will start to cause often and severe irritability, panic attacks and paranoia. It is also common for the person to start to have psychosis. Psychosis will cause the them to lose touch with reality altogether.
Since there’s different ways to take cocaine, there can be different physical problems that can be caused. If the drug was snorted, then it can cause the person to lose their sense of smell, have severe nose bleeds and an irritation in the nasal cavity. If the cocaine was ingested, it can cause severe bowel gangrene. When cocaine is injected, it will create many puncture marks that are called, “tracks”. The tracks can cause allergic reactions and infections in the area. The most common places for “track” marks to be located are on the forearms.