Cocaine is a stimulant drug. It comes from the coca plant and can be taken as a powder or as crystals.
Cocaine causes increased levels of happiness and energy. This high is caused by the temporary build-up of dopamine in the brain (dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for causing feelings of pleasure).
Many people that try cocaine become regular users. This regular usage can have many negative long-term effects on the body. Below are just some of the main effects that cocaine can have on the body.
Effect on the brain
Cocaine temporarily blocks the removal of dopamine from the synapse, causing it to build up in the brain. Regular usage can interfere with the body’s natural ability to process dopamine – and the ability to feel pleasure. Some regular cocaine users find that they are unable to get joy from things that they were once passionate about. This can lead to a state of depression and apathy when sober – which causes people to take the drug in order to feel something again.
Studies have also found that regular usage can lead to premature brain aging. Long-term cocaine users were found to lose grey matter at twice the rate as healthy individuals that didn’t use the drug, causing earlier development of cognitive problems.
Effect on blood pressure and the heart
Cocaine increases the user’s blood pressure and heart rate. High doses can be very dangerous for this reason and have been known to cause fatalities by heart attack.
Small doses are unlikely to carry such short-term risks, however there can be long-term effects on the cardiovascular system for those that regularly use cocaine. Restricted blood flow is one effect of cocaine that can cause long-term damage, starving organs and skin of essential blood supply. Regular cocaine use can also increase the risk of developing strokes and heart attacks.
Effect on the gut
Cocaine can cause harm to the gastrointestinal tract. Restricted blood flow to the gut as a result of cardiovascular changes can cause problems like chronic constipation and blockages. There are even instances of bowel decay in some long-time cocaine users.
The gut’s ability to pull nutrients from food is also affected by regular cocaine usage. This has an effect on the whole body.
Effect on weight and nutrition
Cocaine’s negative impact on our ability to pull nutrients from food can cause malnutrition and weight loss. This is despite the fact that cocaine’s comedown can make many users hungry – even though many regular cocaine users can end up eating more calories, the food is unlikely to be processed properly while still partially under the influence of cocaine.
The weight loss that cocaine users can experience is not a healthy weight loss – it is not just fat but essential nutrients that the body is being starved of. If you’ve overweight, you may lose a few pounds, but your organs may also get damaged in the process.
Effect on breathing
Cocaine can also have a negative impact on the respiratory system, depending on how it is taken. The most common way to take cocaine is to snort it up the nose. This can cause damage to the nasal passageways and throat – which can lead to breathing difficulties. Long time users may even experience nasal valve collapse.
Smoking cocaine (crack) can also cause damage to the lungs (as with smoking any substance). An acute pulmonary syndrome referred to as ‘crack lung’ can also occur after even just one dose, which can be fatal.
Overcoming an addiction to cocaine
By choosing to get clean and stay sober, you can prevent many of the health problems associated with cocaine abuse from getting worse. You could even give your body a chance to heal completely. Professional treatment could be the best option for those with a compulsive habit – it could help you to more easily fight withdrawal symptoms and get you on the road to recovery.
At Findlay Recovery Center, we offer a range of different treatment options for those struggling with drug addiction – no matter how mild or severe. This could include everything from detoxification treatment to inpatient rehabilitative care. We also offer treatment for those struggling with alcoholism. Check out our site to explore some of the various different treatment options that we provide. To book one of our treatments, don’t hesitate to contact us here.