Cocaine Side Effects

Wolf Creek Recovery Cocaine Side Effects

It seems like every time you try to get ahead in life, something new goes wrong. First the car broke down, then your son hit a baseball through the family room window. And now, just when you thought things were slowing down, your daughter gets injured playing soccer and needs surgery. The costs just keep piling up, and you have to deal with this all while working a full-time job.

You turn to your husband for comfort. After all, he’s going through this right alongside you. However, he doesn’t seem to be as affected as you. In fact, he’s pretty pumped up and seems to be running on adrenaline half the time. What gives? You ask him how he’s getting by, and he confides in you that he’s been using cocaine. Some guys at work gave it to him to stay awake during the night shift.

Understandably, this new revelation doesn’t sit well with you. When you were dating, you both experimented with some drugs, but that was before marriage and kids. How did cocaine sneak past you now? But when you try to have a serious conversation with your husband, he shrugs it off and says it’s no different than taking any other drug. He’s certainly not alone — 6.92 percent of young adults aged 18-25 in Arizona have used cocaine.

Wolf Creek Recovery sees people in all stages of the recovery process, and people in the early stages are often in denial. They tend to seek treatment at their family’s request, but they don’t see the damage they’re doing, as in this case. In fact, cocaine is what’s keeping your husband afloat, so he’s naturally not going to want to stop. This is why our team meets people where they are. We know through research that treatment can be effective even for those who may not see the full extent of their substance use.

Let’s learn more about cocaine side effects, how the mind and body are impacted; and what you can expect over time if you don’t quit.

How Ingestion Methods Influence Cocaine’s Side Effects

Cocaine can be used in several different ways. When people snort the drug, they inhale cocaine powder into their nose where it’s then absorbed into the bloodstream. Snorting cocaine is the most popular method, though it gives the slowest onset of high. However, the effects can last for up to 30 minutes, which is longer than other methods.

Another way to administer cocaine is intravenously, or through the use of a needle. Cocaine is dissolved in water and injected directly into the bloodstream, producing effects almost immediately. This is the fastest way to get cocaine into the body, as there are no membranes to travel through before reaching the bloodstream.

While less common, cocaine can also be smoked or rubbed onto the gums. Smoking cocaine acts almost as quickly as intravenous use, as the lungs have a very large surface area for absorption. It usually only takes about 10-15 seconds for the effects to set in. Rubbing cocaine on the gums also enables fast absorption into the bloodstream but without the risks of smoking or injecting.

Timeline of Cocaine Side Effects

Timeline of Cocaine Side Effects

Cocaine’s effects occur almost immediately after a single dose. The main mechanism by which cocaine acts on the brain is through the reuptake of neurotransmitters called monoamines. Monoamines are a group of neurotransmitters that include dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Cocaine inhibits reuptake and causes a surge of neurotransmitters to increase in the brain. This is what produces the favorable high associated with cocaine use. Dopamine, in particular, is responsible for making cocaine rewarding and promoting compulsive use.

Keep in mind that the method of ingestion will affect how quickly you feel the effects:

  • Snorted: 15-30 minutes
  • Injected: 5-15 minutes
  • Smoked: 5-15 minutes
  • Rubbed on gums: 15-30 minutes

When the symptoms set in, users typically feel a boost in energy, along with euphoria, mental alertness, talkativeness and extreme happiness. It’s also possible to feel irritated and paranoid, as cocaine stimulates the nervous system, causing some people to feel on edge. The high doesn’t last long, and it’s often followed by a “crash” or “comedown” period when the drug wears off. At this point, users are often left feeling lethargic, uncomfortable, irritable and even depressed. Also, the faster the drug is absorbed, the stronger the high.

Short-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use

The effects of cocaine may appear to be positive, but they are short-term rewards followed by a comedown period. The immediate, short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Faster heart rate

Not all effects of cocaine are positive. Some people may experience feelings of restlessness, panic, paranoia, tremors, vertigo, and muscle twitches.

Long-Term Health Effects of Cocaine Use

With regular use of cocaine, tolerance can develop. Tolerance happens when you have to take more of a substance at higher doses to achieve the desired effects. At the same time, you can also develop sensitization, where less cocaine is needed to produce anxiety, convulsions and other effects.

The method of cocaine administration can also produce adverse effects. For instance, regularly snorting cocaine can lead to nosebleeds, hoarseness, problems with swallowing, problems with smell and deteriorating nasal tissue. Smoking crack cocaine damages the lungs and worsens asthma, while injecting cocaine can leave behind track marks and increase the risk for infectious diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C.

Cocaine also damages many organs in the body, such as the heart, and increases the risk for strokes and seizures. It reduces blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract, causing tears and ulcerations. On top of that, some people who use cocaine lose their appetite and become malnourished. Movement disorders and bleeding in the brain can also occur in long-term users.

Cocaine’s Effects on the Body and Mind

Cocaine changes how the brain works by increasing dopamine in the areas that control reward and motivation. If you use the drug often, your brain will get used to having large amounts of dopamine around to feel good, and other healthy activities won’t produce as much joy. As the cycle progresses, you will want more and more of the drug to just feel normal. The more you use cocaine, the stronger and faster the addiction.

Physical Side Effects of Cocaine Misuse

The physiological effects of cocaine use include weight loss, constricted blood vessels, insomnia, nosebleeds, nasal infections and chest pain. Since cocaine also impairs judgment and can make people feel invincible, there is a higher risk for physical injury as well. You may be more inclined to get in the car and drive or engage in other risky behaviors because you feel unstoppable. Additionally, some people will misuse other substances in addition to cocaine to deal with the comedown period, putting them at risk for serious drug interactions and other substance use disorders.

Here are some additional ways that cocaine can affect the body physically:

  • Malnutrition and dehydration
  • Damage to the respiratory system – coughing up blood
  • Damage to the nervous system – confusion and memory problems
  • Organ damage from anemia or high blood pressure
  • Stomach pain and intestinal damage

Psychological Effects of Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine also has strong psychological effects, which can cause ongoing mental health problems. This is of particular concern for those with pre-existing mental health conditions, as cocaine use can exacerbate symptoms. Those who have a cocaine use disorder and a co-occurring mental health condition should consider integrated treatment. This allows both conditions to be treated simultaneously.

The psychological effects of a cocaine use disorder include:

  • Depression
  • Paranoia and high anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Cocaine psychosis, with symptoms like delusions and hallucinations
  • Aggression and violent outbursts
  • Relationship problems
  • Difficulty maintaining responsibilities

Psychological Cocaine Side Effects

Get Help With Cocaine Addiction Treatment in Prescott, AZ

While you can’t force someone into treatment, you can encourage them to seek treatment when they are ready. Cocaine is not a safe substance, even though it gets less attention than opioids and alcohol. Fortunately, behavioral interventions are effective at treating cocaine use disorder, and finding quality substance use treatment can set you or a loved one up for success. Treatment will include a combination of behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM), along with support groups and healthy lifestyle modifications. The important thing to know is that cocaine use disorder IS treatable, and you can take your life back!

Living with a cocaine use disorder is no way to steer through life. Even if everything appears to be fine at first, there are many side effects that can develop over time. Wolf Creek Recovery makes the recovery process more enjoyable and rewarding so that clients are motivated to continue their journey. We even have outdoor and recreation therapy! Our team of caring, compassionate professionals can empower you to build a life that you love while incorporating values like honesty, integrity and respect. Contact us today at 833-732-8202 to learn more about our program.