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What Happens To Your Brain When You Use Cocaine?

If you take any drug, then your brain will be affected. That’s because drugs impact the operations of the brain, through the process of affecting how nerve cells communicate. Your body’s nerve cells signal messages to one another through chemicals that are called neurotransmitters. The chemicals latch onto the neurons’ molecules, which are called receptors. This is a signalling process that your body does automatically. When you take drugs, this signalling process is impacted.

Your body has many neurotransmitters, but the one that your body really likes is dopamine. It’s the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good — if you like listening to music, then your brain will get a hit of dopamine when you’re listening to a great song. Under normal circumstances, the release of dopamine returns to the cell. But when you take certain drugs, such as cocaine, the dopamine does not return to the cell. This neurotransmitter builds up in the brain, which is what gives the happy and energetic feeling. But in the process of taking the drug, the user is training their brain to require the drug. This is where the risk of addiction comes in.

Over a period of time, cocaine (and other drugs) can fundamentally affect the brain’s dopamine system. They can become unable to enjoy everyday activities and moments that don’t require cocaine. If a person is taking cocaine regularly, then they may develop a tolerance to the drug. At this stage, they’ll need to take more to get the same level of euphoria and energy. Once addiction sets in, a person will need to take the drug just to feel like themselves.

People take cocaine for the energy and happiness that it delivers at the moment. But once that sensation has worn off, the crash comes. This can make a person feel low-energy and miserable for days. This scenario often creates a feedback loop whereby they feel they need to take cocaine to feel better, thus beginning the cycle all over again.

The Brain and Drugs

Your brain is you. It’s what allows you to experience the world, make decisions, work, play, talk, breathe — or in short, it’s what allows you to do everything. Your brain is incredibly complicated, by far the most important and complicated tool that you’ll ever own. Taking drugs impacts the processes that your brain does automatically and non-automatically. This impact can be felt on a short-term basis (say, ability to drive a car) or a long-term basis (addiction). Both are bad, but addiction is worse. When addiction sets in, the user can’t stop using cocaine even if they want to. It can lead to devastating consequences for a person’s health and personal life.

If a person becomes addicted to cocaine, then their quality of life can suffer. They may sink into depression, feel tired, have slower thought processes, and have restless nights, including bad dreams. It can also impact a person’s relationships with the people around them and their professional lives. A person can successfully overcome their cocaine addiction through modern treatment methods. 

What Are The Effects of Cocaine?

A stimulant, cocaine gives the user a feeling of alertness. Once ingested, the effects are felt quickly and then disappear within an hour, though it can be less. How long the person feels the effects depends on how the drug is taken. After a person has taken cocaine, they’ll usually feel a range of emotions and feelings. For instance, they could feel extreme happiness and be highly energetic. Sounds, sights, and bodily touch may be heightened. They may also feel that their heart is beating more quickly, or that they’re experiencing paranoia. 

That’s the short-term effects of cocaine. If a person is using cocaine over an extended period of time, then they may feel any number of effects. These effects tend to vary depending on how the drug is ingested.

If the drug is taken through snorting, then losing a sense of smell, nasal damage, and difficulty in swallowing are all common side effects. If the drug is taken through smoking, then chronic cough, lung damage, and asthma are long-term risks. Through oral use, cocaine can cause damage to the intestines. If the drug is taken via needle, viral infections such as HIV and hepatitis become much more likely. 

Other consequences include weight loss and poor nutrition, regardless of how the drug is taken.

As we’ve seen, cocaine can have highly serious consequences on both a short- and long-term basis, for the brain, physical body, and for the person’s lifestyle. 

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