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The Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine has been around for many years, and its modern form dates back to the 1800s. It was originally intended for use during medical procedures as it can act as a powerful pain medication or anesthetic. Cocaine is derived from a plant known as the coca shrub found in South America. Cocaine is currently one of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. There are many street names for cocaine, including “crack,” “blow,” “nose candy,” “coke” and “snow.” Cocaine effects can be severe, depending on the user, and can lead to medical problems including:

  • crack-cocaineSeizures
  • Racing heartbeat or palpitations
  • Trouble breathing
  • Increased blood pressure

If you have developed an addiction to cocaine, the time to act is now.


According to WebMD, at least 14 percent of US adults have tried cocaine, and as many as one in 40 adults has used it in the past year. Men aged 18 to 25 are found to be the biggest cocaine users, with 8 percent having used it in the past 12 months.

Short-Term Effects of Using

Depending on the habits of the addict, he or she may encounter two differing sets of effects from cocaine use. The main short-term effect of cocaine use is usually experienced immediately, depending on the method the addict uses to allow the cocaine to enter the bloodstream. The user feels an immediate euphoric high that encourages fast, erratic talking, and an increased awareness of objects with bright colors. The user may feel the need to stay up for hours or days at a time depending on the amount of the drug ingested. Cocaine’s effects typically wear off somewhere between a half-hour to two hours after use.

Surprisingly, smoking or injecting cocaine results in a faster high than snorting the drug. While there are some psychological effects caused by short-term use of cocaine, the physical side effects must also be considered and taken seriously. Short-term effects of cocaine abuse can include some very negative consequences for the body. Typical symptoms to watch out for in someone who may be suffering from cocaine abuse include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Vertigo
  • Muscle twitches
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Did You Know?

Cocaine was an original ingredient in Coca-Cola, but has long since been discontinued in the popular soda. Flavoring from the coca plant is still used in the drink.

Long-Term Effects and Possible Consequences

The long-term effects of cocaine abuse are even more serious than those experienced by a short-term user, and the consequences of long-term abuse can be severe as the cocaine dominates the chemistry of the brain. Dopamine is a natural chemical that is produced in the brain and controls systems, such as movement, emotion and the ability to experience feelings like pleasure or pain. Cocaine’s effects on dopamine tend to lower the necessary levels of this chemical, leading to dangerous side effects like tremors or a tendency to have a lower pain threshold. The fluctuation of dopamine levels within the brain can also cause severe depression, leading the drug user to have suicidal thoughts or to self-mutilate. The physical effects of long-term cocaine use include:

  • Tooth decay
  • Sexual problems
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels in the brain
  • Permanent liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Infectious diseases caused by injecting or sharing needles
  • Abscesses developing at the injection site
  • Inability to maintain a healthy weight
  • Exhaustion
  • Permanent heart damage

Did You Know?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, most cocaine-related deaths result from consuming alcohol while being high on the drug.

If the drug abuser is someone who uses the drug only periodically, that person is likely to fall into the short-term abuse category, and cocaine’s effects will generally be minimal. Recognizing short-term abusers quickly will help to stop them from becoming long-term abusers.

Getting a short-term user to stop abusing cocaine will always be easier than trying the same task with a long-term user. A short-term cocaine addict will generally require support from a counselor who can identify with the individual and discover why the abuser feels the need to use cocaine. For some, it stems from being around a friend or roommate who constantly uses the drug; similarly, many people who use cocaine for the long-term grew up around an addictive parent who chose a life of alcohol or drug abuse. Because of these personal links, the best way to convince a cocaine user to seek help is usually through moral support. Using methods like an intervention to convince the addict to go to rehab can be very effective.

Help Is Available Today

Remember that a full recovery is a genuine possibility, even in cases of long-term abuse, and there are many health professionals who can help you or the addict you are supporting return to a happy, healthy lifestyle. Get started today by contacting us at to locate the best treatment facilities or addiction specialists near you.

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