Health Effects of Cocaine On the Body

Health Effects of Cocaine On the Body

Cocaine is a drug which produces extreme effects upon both a person’s mind and their body. The impact upon the brain is so intense that the drug actually changes the normal function of the brain. The body experiences short-term effects but is also impacted long-term, sometimes in ways that last for the remainder of a person’s life.

Short and Long-Term Effect on the Brain

Buried deep within the recesses of the human brain are pleasure centers known as reward centers. When certain events occur the reward center is stimulated and a chemical called dopamine is released. The dopamine travels to miniscule gaps which exist between neurons in the brain. Intense sensations of pleasure are felt when dopamine is released. When the brain is functioning normally, the dopamine next leaves these gaps in a process called reuptake.

When a person uses cocaine, the reward center in the brain is stimulated and dopamine is released. However, rather than experiencing reuptake, the chemical remains in the gaps and actually builds up, keeping the brain in a state of pleasured stimulation. This intense and extended sense of euphoria is one reason why cocaine is so highly addictive.

The pleasure comes at tremendous cost however. More and more cocaine will be needed over time in order to achieve the desired effect and the brain has a great capacity for remembering pleasure which triggers intense cravings and makes relapse so common when a person is trying to quit.

Short-term Effects on Body

Using cocaine will create immediate but short-lived harmful effects upon the person’s body.

  • Increase in energy and mental alertness
  • Decrease in appetite – dramatic weight loss is a tell-tale sign of cocaine abuse
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure – the entire body is stimulated by its use
  • Constriction of blood vessels – this explains the rise in blood pressure
  • Increase in body temperature – use of cocaine can lead to fever
  • Pupils dilate – person becomes highly sensitive to light
  • Digestive problems – nausea and stomach pain are not uncommon

Long-term Effects on Body

Using cocaine will also produce long-term damage to the body.

  • Addiction is one obvious long-term effect of using the drug
  • Long-lasting mood disorders such as depression or intense mood swings, irritability is common
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety and general restlessness
  • Auditory hallucinations – long after use has ceased, a person may continue to “hear things”
  • Gangrene in the bowels as a result of poor circulation
  • Continuing health problems related to damage done to the heart and/or respiratory system: stroke, heart attack, lung failure

A person may snort or inject cocaine or super-heat the drug and inhale the vapors, but however it is consumed, cocaine is a powerful and dangerous substance. People have died the very first time they took the drug while others have been left to manage lifelong debilitating conditions as a result of their previous cocaine habit.

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