Cocaine is a highly addictive drug and a stimulant. Made from the coca plant native to South America, it is illegal in the United States, and comes in different forms, with the most common being a fine white powder. Users snort the powder into their nose or rub it into their gums; some dissolve it in water and inject it. The drug brings about the “high” by sending high levels of dopamine into your body.
How it Brings About the “High”
Dopamine is something that most people might be aware of due to its association with smartphones. Dopamine is a natural chemical messenger that goes through the brain and controls pleasure. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that, when it sends signals to the brain and other areas of the body, can trigger heightened feelings of pleasure. Dopamine can be triggered naturally in many instances, but cocaine causes a much higher intensity of euphoria, resulting in users aiming to repeat the experience, which brings about the cycle of addiction, which demands the need for various treatments.
What Happens to Your Body When Using Cocaine?
There are many mental effects of cocaine on the body, but what happens to your body when you use cocaine can be broken down into two different categories: the short-term effects, and the long-term.
The drug is a stimulant, so it gives the body a feeling of alertness, which can be pleasurable, but also harmful. The effects can appear quickly and disappear, depending on the strength of the dose, and the method of use. They can last a few minutes or up to an hour. Some of the short-term effects include the following:
As the drug is sending a dopamine rush to the brain, this mimics the happiness sensation we all have. As a result, the individual has a lot of energy. But it’s important to note that cocaine causes dysfunction in how dopamine goes through the body. Over time, the user needs to increase their doses to achieve the desired effect (known as tolerance).
Cocaine has appetite-suppressant properties, which makes it a very desirable drug for individuals who want to lose weight. With prolonged use over time, the decreased appetite causes an unhealthy amount of weight loss.
Inability to Sleep
As cocaine provides an extreme level of mental alertness, this can result in feelings of restlessness, which has a knock-on effect with regard to sleep.
Irritability and Paranoia
A very common side effect of the drug is the sensation of being irritable, which can arise from restlessness. While the feeling of paranoia, where you believe people are out to get you, is also a key symptom in the short term, which can result in increased aggression.
With prolonged use of any drug, it can be very detrimental to our health. The long-term effects of cocaine partly depend on the method of use:
A common side effect of smoking cocaine can cause long-term damage to the lungs, which could start off with a persistent cough, eventually developing into asthma or long-term lung damage.
Nosebleeds and Nasal Damage
Snorting cocaine can cause damage to the nasal passages, resulting in a sense of smell, nosebleeds, and trouble swallowing. The detrimental nature of the drug has resulted in nasal cavities collapsing as well as the complete obliteration of the septum, the wall in your nostril.
A Risk of Hepatitis and HIV
If cocaine is taken by injection, shared needles can result in liver disease hepatitis.
Damage to the Intestines
If cocaine is consumed by mouth, this can result in intestinal damage between the stomach and the anus due to reduced blood flow.
Because cocaine, in any form, is a stimulant and appetite suppressant, the user gradually loses weight due to a lack of health, improper nutrition, and an inability to look after their health.
There are many complications associated with the use of cocaine, but the most frequent complaint is chest pain. This is caused by vasoconstriction, where the increased heart rate caused by the drug can cause a multitude of complications, including heart-related problems, and chest pain. This could also harden the arteries, interfere with the electrical system of the heart, and cause a cocaine-induced heart attack.
In a physical sense, the user can experience a variety of symptoms. As cocaine is one of the worst drugs to become addicted to because of how it makes the individual feel, it is crucial to have appropriate treatments. When someone uses cocaine, it is not just the medical nature of the addiction that can prove fatal, but it can harm everyone around the user. It is so important to choose the right form of treatment, but whether it’s an intensive treatment or a holistic method, it is vital to address the underlying causes, as well as the physical ones.