Almost any illegal drug will have negative effects on a person’s health in both the short-term and long-term.
Cocaine, however, is particularly notorious for causing both immediate physical side effects and resulting in damaging health conditions.
Immediate Side Effects Of Cocaine Use
The effects of cocaine are immediately felt after a single dose and may disappear over the course of a few minutes or hours.
A person on cocaine will typically feel euphoric, very energetic, talkative, and mentally alert. They may have feelings of invincibility and extreme confidence.
Immediate physical effects include:
- constricted blood vessels
- dilated pupils
- increased heart rate
- muscle twitches
- high body temperature
- high blood pressure
The more cocaine a person uses, the more erratic, restless, and paranoid they may become.
Short-Term Physical Effects Of Cocaine
While the short-term physical effects of cocaine drug use can be unpleasant, they are usually reversible if the use of cocaine stops.
How Cocaine Affects Body Weight
While cocaine is not an appetite suppressant in itself, it has appetite-suppressing qualities in that it alters a person’s metabolism by changing the way the body digests and stores food.
Because of this, a person using cocaine frequently may lose weight relatively quickly, regardless of how much they are eating.
This can be an attractive quality of cocaine use for some, but it is important to note that cocaine-induced weight loss is dangerous and can cause malnutrition.
Cocaine’s Effects On The Skin
Cocaine can affect the skin in a couple of ways. To start, it deprives the body of oxygen-rich blood when cocaine is used on a regular basis, which can cause skin discoloration and redness, as well as blisters in extreme cases.
Continued cocaine use can also result in the formation of chronic skin ulcers as well as the pathologic death of skin cells.
How Cocaine Affects The Digestive System
Cocaine alters a person’s metabolism, but like all stimulant drugs, it also has a laxative effect. Someone using cocaine will likely find themselves having to poop more frequently and may even experience bloody diarrhea.
Unfortunately, cocaine’s effects on the digestive system can also cause nausea and vomiting, a decrease in appetite, and stomach pain.
Cocaine is an intense and powerful stimulant that raises a person’s heart rate and energy levels to the max.
It should come as no surprise then that insomnia is common among people who use cocaine and who generally have a hard time bringing their energy levels back down.
Frequent sleep disruption can cause further health complications like cognitive impairments and problems with concentration and memory.
Long-Term Physical Effects Of Cocaine
The following are some of the long-term side effects that cocaine can have on a person both inwardly and outwardly.
Snorting Cocaine May Damage The Nose
When snorting the white powder form of cocaine, the drug becomes absorbed directly into the mucous membrane. This causes the sinuses to become irritated, inflamed, and possibly even infected. A runny nose or nosebleeds and upper respiratory infections or loss of smell may result.
With extended use, cocaine can cause irreversible nose damage. Snorting cocaine can lead to a hole forming in the wall between a person’s nostrils. This is called a deviated nasal septum and is an irreversible condition.
Cocaine Addiction And Hair Loss
Cocaine can cause hair loss in a couple of different ways. One way is related to the malnutrition that results in people who are addicted to cocaine.
Someone who is not getting proper nutrition is not receiving what their body needs to stimulate new and healthy hair growth.
It has also been shown that injecting or inhaling cocaine can cause the death of hair follicles around the injection or inhalation site.
Cocaine Use Increases The Risk Of Heart Attack
Cocaine can wreak absolute havoc on a person’s heart with long-term use, as it forces the heart to pump faster and harder with each use. Additionally, it also constricts the blood vessels and causes high blood pressure.
Over time, a person’s risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, or sudden death will increase with continued cocaine use.
The dangers of cocaine use on the heart are even scarier in people who have pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. Call 911 if you or someone else is experiencing intense chest pain or discomfort while high on cocaine.
Liver Damage From Cocaine Abuse
The liver is responsible for filtering substances that enter the body, and any time you flood it with harmful toxins and chemicals, it is forced to work harder than it would like to. Cocaine is considered a toxin.
When the liver is forced to overwork itself, it can cause serious health problems. Cocaine-induced liver damage can include conditions such as renal failure and viral hepatitis and eventually complete organ failure.
One of the more disturbing long-term health risks of cocaine use is the development of “coke mouth”, also sometimes called “coke jaw”. This occurs when a person’s palate erodes and actual holes form in the roof of their mouth.
This happens because cocaine cuts off the blood and oxygen supply to the palate, which is what separates the mouth from the nasal cavity.
Eventually, the tissue on the palate can die and start to shrink away, forming holes after enough time and cocaine use.
How The Method Of Cocaine Abuse Affects The Body
A number of side effects may occur due to the method of use for cocaine.
Some of these side effects include:
- Snorting cocaine can cause damage to a person’s sinuses, palate, and nasal cavities.
- Smoking crack cocaine can cause burns and cracks on a person’s fingers and lips.
- Injecting cocaine can cause track marks at the injection site.
- Boofing cocaine can cause damage to a person’s rectum and intestines.
Effects Of Cocaine Withdrawal
After prolonged cocaine use, a person may develop a strong mental and physical dependency on the drug. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms may begin if they abruptly stop using the drug.
Psychological Effects Of Cocaine Withdrawal
Most withdrawal symptoms of cocaine will be psychological in nature. Symptoms may include slowed thinking, difficulty concentrating, suicidal thoughts, cravings, vivid nightmares, and more.
Physical Effects Of Cocaine Withdrawal
Physical effects of cocaine withdrawal include chills, muscle tremors, muscle aches, restlessness, intense nerve pain, and exhaustion.
The severity of the effects of cocaine withdrawal will depend on several factors, such as length of addiction, amount of cocaine used on a daily basis, and underlying physical and mental health issues.
Physical Risks Of Cocaine Addiction: Cocaine Overdose
Cocaine overdose can occur when cocaine use reaches toxic levels in the brain. Stress on the heart may induce a heart attack, or induce seizures causing permanent brain damage.
Some of the most common symptoms of cocaine overdose include high fever, sudden spikes in blood pressure, chest pain, tremors, vomiting, and trouble breathing.
People may also appear panicked, anxious, or confused, and may also experience vivid hallucinations or delusions as an overdose occurs.
If you notice symptoms such as these, it’s important to immediately contact the emergency department to avoid life-threatening complications.
Treatment Programs For Cocaine Addiction
Treatment programs for cocaine addiction will usually attempt to treat both the substance use disorder as well as any mental health or behavioral health disorders that are co-occurring.
Treatment services for cocaine addiction include:
- outpatient treatment
- inpatient treatment
- medical detoxification
- behavioral therapy
- dual diagnosis treatment
- evidence-based treatments
- group workshops
- aftercare support
Find Addiction Treatment Services At Bedrock Recovery Center
Admitting that you need addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one can be one of the hardest and scariest steps on the road to recovery. Congratulate yourself for taking this difficult first step.
No matter what step you are on in your journey to recovery from a substance use disorder, Bedrock Recovery Center is committed to helping you see it through to the end.
You deserve to live a life free from the pain and problems of drug addiction. Contact us now to learn about our cocaine treatment programs.
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.