Most people know that cocaine use is a bad idea, however, a lot of them may not know exactly why. While cocaine was originally developed as a painkiller, nowadays it is used as an addictive drug identified by multiple street names that can be snorted, ingested, and/or injected in an effort to gain a fast-acting high.
While it can create a pleasurable high, cocaine also has serious negative effects that include damage to the different organs like the brain, heart, blood vessels, and lungs, in some cases resulting in sudden death. Cocaine, chemically known as cocaine hydrochloride, is a highly addictive central nervous system (CNS) psychostimulant and is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance as it has some legal medicinal use as a pain reliever and vasoconstrictor and a high potential for abuse and addiction.
To most people, cocaine is a popular recreational drug, widely abused for its pleasurable stimulant effects. It has been portrayed as a party drug, consumed by the rich and the famous. However, the reality is that its use extends to all sections of the society especially after the more affordable ‘crack’ cocaine entered the market.
Crack cocaine, the rock form of cocaine, is among the most addictive substances in the world. It causes a short-lived, intense burst of energy accompanied by euphoric feelings produced by the flooding of the brain’s receptors by the neurotransmitter – dopamine. However, the high is quickly followed by a crash, characterized by feelings of intense depression, edginess, and a craving to use again. People addicted to cocaine are unable to eat or sleep normally as their attention is on getting their next ‘high’ and as with use of most other drugs, they lose interest in the other areas of their lives.
Cocaine’s effect on brain
Cocaine immediately affects the brain by interfering with the chemical messengers or neurotransmitters that communicate with each other, but it affects the striatum the most. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward, meaning that the resulting high is registered in the brain as a feeling of reward.
These positive feelings caused by cocaine use are powerful but short-lived. The more the drug is used, the more a person needs to use it to get the desired effect as they build tolerance and eventually an addiction to the drug. This seriously changes the balance of chemicals in the brain and stopping the drug use later rather than sooner will create serious withdrawal symptoms because of this change in chemicals.
In addition to this, as the cocaine high and its pleasurable feelings begin to fade (the high lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours), it is immediately followed by a change in mood and emotions. Individuals will go from high and happy to intensely depressed, edgy, paranoid, angry, hostile, and anxious craving more of the drug. In serious cases of extended abuse, cocaine can even cause hallucinations and psychosis.
Cocaine’s effect on body
Cocaine not only affects the brain causing some major damage , it also affects the rest of the body in a number of ways, some of them being connected to the adverse effects that cocaine has on mental health and some directly connected to how the drug is introduced in the body. Cocaine takes a toll on the following organs in the ways mentioned below:
- Heart: Cocaine use increases the heart rate and blood pressure within the user while simultaneously constricting the arteries that supply blood to the heart. This can lead to a heart attack or cause an abnormal heart rhythm called arrhythmia.
- Lungs and respiratory system: Smoking or snorting cocaine damages the nose and sinuses, increasing nosebleeds and increasing nasal perforation. It also irritates the lungs and can cause permanent lung damage.
- Gastrointestinal tract: Cocaine use not only constricts the vessels feeding blood to the heart but also those supplying blood to the gut. This creates oxygen starvation, leading to ulcers or perforation in the stomach or intestines.
- Kidneys: Using cocaine can result in sudden kidney failure though rhabdomyolysis or, for those with high blood pressure, it can cause long-term kidney damage.
- Sexual functions: Despite the drug’s reputation as an aphrodisiac, cocaine may actually impair sexual function and, for men, may cause delayed or impaired ejaculation.
Considering the harm and impairment that cocaine use can cause, it is imperative to seek help at the earliest. If you or a loved one are addicted to cocaine, then seek help from the Invictus Health Group. We can connect you with our partner drug rehab centers to ensure that you receive measurement-based care. Our network drug treatment centers are staffed by highly skilled teams of professional addiction treatment providers who understand addiction and how it effects an individual’s brain and body.
For more information about our network facilities call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 and speak to a member from our admissions team. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.