Cocaine and Cardiovascular Health
As a stimulant, cocaine makes you feel more awake, but it increases your heart rate and pushes your cardiovascular system to work overtime. This can cause the following issues:
- Increased blood pressure
- Inflamed heart muscles
- Decreased ability of the heart to contract
- Aortic ruptures
- Hardened arteries
- irregular heart rhythms
All of these factors increase your risk of heart attacks. People who use cocaine are four times more likely to die suddenly than people who don’t use it. About 1 in 10 people who have a heart attack while under the age of 50 have cocaine in their systems.
Some types of cocaine induced heart disease can take years to develop, but some people can suffer a heart attack the very first time they use cocaine.
Cocaine Brain Damage
There is a strong link between cocaine and brain damage. Cocaine triggers your brain’s reward center. With repeated use of the drug, your brain’s reward pathways become less sensitive to other rewards. To put it another way, when you are addicted, nothing makes you feel happy but cocaine.
At the same time, your brain starts to produce stress hormones more easily. This tends to cause feelings of unhappiness and stress when the drug is not in your system. Cocaine also alters glucose metabolism and alters the flow of blood to your brain potentially causing blood vessels in the brain to spasm or leak. This, along with the release of cocaine-induced toxic chemicals, can kill brain cells.
Over time, cocaine addiction can damage the structure of your brain, which can lead to seizures or other neurological conditions. Some people experience cocaine-induced brain hemorrhages or bleeding in the brain.
Some brain damage from cocaine may be irreversible, but research suggests that many cognitive effects are tied to cocaine withdrawal. Within about five months after quitting, most people regain their cognitive functions.
Cocaine and Stroke
Cocaine can also damage your brain in other ways. In particular, your risk of having a stroke increases if you use cocaine. Approximately 25% of people ages 15 to 49 who have used cocaine in the past have suffered a stroke.
Stroke victims usually used cocaine more than once a week in the past year. They are six times more likely to have used cocaine in the last 24 hours than average.
Cocaine Parkinson's Disease
Using cocaine increases your risk of Parkinson’s disease. When pregnant women use cocaine, they increase the chance of their baby developing Parkinson’s later in life. Cocaine changes nerve bodies in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, and this type of brain damage makes you more susceptible to a toxin that can cause Parkinson’s.
Cocaine and Gastrointestinal Issues
Cocaine can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Using cocaine reduces blood flow to your gastrointestinal tract, which can cause tears and ulcerations. Additionally, when high on cocaine, most people lose their appetites. Over time, they may lose an excessive amount of weight or face vitamin deficiency.
Cocaine withdrawal gastrointestinal upset often happens when people quit taking this drug. In detox, you may experience diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
Cocaine and Mental Health Issues
While high on cocaine, many people feel irritable or paranoid. But some people go into psychosis and experience auditory hallucinations. As you increase your dosage or use this drug repeatedly, the risk of facing psychological effects increases.
Additionally, many people turn to cocaine or other drugs to self-medicate mental health disorders. Unfortunately, they don’t learn how to deal with their symptoms in healthy ways. When you reach out for help, you can get support for addiction and mental health issues. You learn how to deal with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other issues without turning to drugs.
Cocaine and Respiratory Damage
The way you ingest cocaine can affect the health conditions you face as a result of using this drug. Smoking cocaine or crack cocaine can damage your lungs and make asthma symptoms worse.
Typically, snorting cocaine is the most popular way to take this drug. This damages the lining of your nasal cavity, causing nosebleeds, loss of smell, chronic inflammation, and a constant runny nose. Because the drug typically runs through your nose and into your throat, you may also have problems swallowing or hoarseness.
Cocaine and Infectious Diseases
People who inject cocaine have to deal with small puncture wounds, called track marks while they use this drug. But the real risk from injecting cocaine is a heightened chance of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis C.
In addition, cocaine use impairs your judgment. Even people who do not inject this drug may face a heightened risk of infectious disease due to making poor decisions about unprotected sex.
Unfortunately, cocaine also impairs your immune system. As a result, using this drug can accelerate HIV infection and increase the damage the virus does to your immune system. In people with HIV, cocaine also speeds up the development of NeuroAIDS, which is a neurological condition linked to memory loss, movement problems and vision impairment.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
As explained above, cocaine can cause serious health problems that can shorten your life expectancy or even lead to sudden death. The drug can permanently damage your organs and lead to chronic conditions.
Quitting cocaine on your own can be hard, but with the right help, you can stop using cocaine and safeguard your health. Ready to feel better? Want to live a longer, healthier life? Then contact us today. At Bedrock Recovery Center, we help patients get past their addictions and learn how to enjoy their lives without drugs.