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Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Short-term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

The short term effects of cocaine use are the main reason that the drug is so very addicting. Immediately after the first dose the effects begin and then they only last for a few minutes and possibly up to an hour. This creates the need for the user to do more and more just so that they can keep experiencing the “high” that cocaine causes.

The method in which cocaine is taken into the system will determine how fast and how strong the effects are. Usually if the “high” is strong, it is short lived. For example, snorting cocaine causes a slower reaction and lesser high than if the user is to smoke it.

Immediate effects of cocaine are:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Increased body temperature
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Erratic or violent behavior may be present when the dosage exceeds several hundred mg’s.

Effects after prolonged use:

  • Tremors
  • Vertigo
  • Twitching of muscles
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

The effects on the heart are why most cocaine related deaths are due to heart failure or seizures that also bring on respiratory arrest. Crack cocaine is a terrifying drug in that the user continues to always need more because the effects are so short lived. A tolerance to the drug is built up giving the user the idea that the body is not as effected as much by the drug. This is very deceiving and even more of a reason why drug treatment needs to begin as soon as possible. If you or a loved one has an addiction to cocaine, please seek a drug treatment center as soon as possible.

Long-term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

The long term effects of cocaine use are devastating. The longer a user does cocaine the more evident the effects become. Some of the long term effects of cocaine that you may notice in an addict are:

  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory failure
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Muscle spasms
  • Coma
  • Paranoia/schizophrenia
  • Intense cravings
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Damage to heart muscles, arteries, and other blood vessels
  • Increased risk of seizures and strokes

As an addict gets deeper into addiction you will see an increase in lying, cheating, stealing, and being absent from work or school. The addiction leads paranoia, irritability, restlessness, moodiness and hallucinations.

Some cocaine addicts will tell you that they are always looking to get back to the feeling they had when they first got high. This never does happen and the addict gets further from that feeling as they grow tolerant of the drug. This tolerance causes the addiction to grow deeper and therefore it is very important to catch this addiction as early as possible before the tolerance begins as well as permanent damage.

How Cocaine Affects the Brain and Body

The effects of cocaine are very severe and very addictive. How cocaine affects the brain is something that scientists started studying when cocaine was first discovered.

  • Hormone Production – Cocaine causes the body to release hormones like dopamine (which affects the pleasure center of the brain) and neropinephrine (which is a stimulant). With both of these hormones affecting the brain the user will likely keep running past the normal point where they would stop and rest. The hormones do not get reabsorbed by the body but keep sending mixed signals so that the body does exaggerated things like having more energy than normal.
  • The High- Often users will have great feelings like euphoria and energy. This is part of the reason why the chemical is so addictive. Crack cocaine users will sometimes keep on getting high for days on end until they finally crash. The body can only take so much.
  • Tolerance – The body gets a tolerance to cocaine quickly making the user need more and more. On top of which, relapse is very common because the brain remembers the feelings of euphoria distinctly and wants the feeling again.
  • Paranoia – Because of the stimulant properties, the drug – when repeatedly used – can cause heart problems. It also causes mental problems, like paranoia. The body becomes weak and yet the mind keeps having triggers that cause the user to want to keep doing the drug. Cocaine is very addictive and it is hard to overcome this addiction. It is important to see signs of cocaine use early so that you can get the user drug rehabilitation as soon as possible.

Other side effects of cocaine use include:

  • Formication– A side effect of long-term or high-dose cocaine use resulting in an imbalance in the sensory neurons causing the sensation that hundreds of little bugs are crawling under the skin. Known as Coke bugs or Snow bugs. This sensation causes users to scratch themselves bloody trying to get at the imaginary insects.
  • Cocaine Psychosis – Because cocaine increases dopamine, repeated use can trigger stimulant-induced paranoid psychosis/schizophrenia.
  • Seizures – This effect is caused by overdose, stroke or hemorrhage and occurs in 2% to 10% of regular cocaine users
  • Crack Thumb or Crack Hands – Caused by repetitive use of butane lighters forming calluses that build up on the thumb and the hand has multiple burns.
  • Crack Keratitis – Abrasions of the eye caused by the user rubbing the eye too much.

Unwanted psychological effects:

  • Paranoia
  • Intense craving
  • Asocial behavior
  • Attention problems
  • Irritability
  • Visual and auditory hallucinations

Respiratory Effects:

  • Severe fever
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing problems
  • Crack lung
  • The new syndrome describing the pneumonia like symptoms of crack smoking

Unwanted physical effects:

  • Slurred speech
  • Thirst
  • Coughing
  • Dry skin
  • Blurred vision
  • Tremors
  • Sore throat
  • Black or bloody sputum
  • Weight loss
  • Heart damage hypertension
  • Dental erosions – Resulting from poor dental hygiene, malnutrition and the erosive effects of acidic cocaine.

Cocaine Overdose

The effects of cocaine overdose are terrifying. Because cocaine is a stimulant it effects every part of the body. The effects begin to wear down the bodies organs after the first use. Overdose can lead to seizures and these can lead to respiratory arrest. A cocaine overdoes can also leave to sudden death because of cardiac arrest.

When large doses of cocaine are taken for long periods of time the user will most likely have at least some of the following symptoms:

  • Sweating more than normal
  • Abnormally fast breathing
  • Extreme heart rate
  • Hearing things
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Nasal ulcers
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Ideally it is good for the people around the cocaine user to pick up on the signs of cocaine use and to help the user get drug rehabilitation as soon as possible.

Cocaine Tolerance

The body metabolizes cocaine quickly and just as quickly, the effects of cocaine disappear. However, cocaine use is detectable in urine for up to 36 hours. In addition, the half-life of cocaine is about 40-60 minutes. Meaning that half of the drug metabolizes and becomes inactive during that time.

Because the body quickly metabolizes cocaine, tolerance to the euphoric effects of the drug develops after the first injection or smoking session. Chronic users escalate their doses while chasing after the initial high. The more they use the less satisfying it becomes. Therefore, users continually seek the same intense rush of their first hit without ever achieving the same result.

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