What Are The Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Addiction?

Even though cocaine causes an intense euphoric high that produces pleasurable feelings, using the drug can have some significant risks and devastating long-term effects on the brain and body.

When most people think of cocaine, they think of the immediate high that the drug produces. However, many people don’t realize that cocaine can have long-term effects on a person’s life. Cocaine can cause heart problems, stroke, and even death. Additionally, cocaine use can lead to addiction and legal and financial challenges.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant. Even though cocaine has a long history of use in many cultures, the substance, which is illegal in most countries, has become a popular recreational drug. When people sniff, snort, smoke, or inject cocaine into their veins, the substance produces feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and alertness. Although intense, the drug’s high is short-lived. After the high fades, cocaine can cause paranoia, depression, and low energy levels. Cocaine is also highly addictive and has a high potential for abuse. As a result, regular cocaine use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Being addicted to cocaine can cause serious health problems such as heart attack and stroke.

Cocaine & The Brain

Cocaine affects the brain in various ways. When ingested, cocaine binds to dopamine receptors and prevents the chemical messenger from being recycled. This causes an increase in dopamine levels in the brain, which leads to feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Cocaine also blocks the reuptake of dopamine, which further increases its effects. The drug also inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, another neurotransmitter associated with happiness and well-being. The result is an intense feeling of pleasure that can last for minutes or hours. However, cocaine’s effects on the brain are not all positive.

Cocaine use can also lead to psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations. These symptoms occur because of cocaine’s effects on the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher-order cognitive functions such as planning and decision-making. Long-term cocaine use can cause damage to this area of the brain, leading to impaired cognition and behavior.

Cocaine & The Body

In addition to affecting the brain, cocaine also impacts the physical body. At first, the drug increases alertness, energy, and concentration and decreases appetite. But these effects are temporary. After cocaine’s peak effects dissipate, the drug can negatively affect the body. These effects can include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, and increased blood pressure and body temperature.

Cocaine can also cause headaches, anxiety, and paranoia. Cocaine also causes the heart to beat faster and can constrict blood vessels. This combination of effects can strain the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. In addition, cocaine use can also cause irregular heart rhythms and high blood pressure.

Cocaine’s effects on the body typically appear immediately after taking the substance and disappear within a few minutes to an hour. The effects depend on how much you take, how often you use the drug and the method of consumption.

Cocaine’s Long-Term Effects

Even though cocaine causes an intense euphoric high that produces pleasurable feelings, using the drug can have some significant risks and long-term effects. In addition to addiction, using cocaine can cause:

Memory and attention problems

  • Cocaine significantly impacts the hippocampus, which is responsible for forming new memories. Cocaine use can also damage the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in planning and decision-making. In addition, cocaine use can lead to changes in brain chemistry that can make it difficult to think clearly and make good decisions.

An increased risk of stroke and seizure

  • One of the most serious is the increased risk of stroke and seizure. Cocaine increases the heart rate and blood pressure, which can strain the cardiovascular system. It also constricts blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the brain. This can cause a stroke or seizure.

Sleep disorders

  • Cocaine use can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Cocaine also interferes with REM sleep, the deepest and most restful stage of sleep. REM sleep is essential for memory, learning, and other cognitive functions. As a result, people who use cocaine often suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, which can severely affect their health and well-being. Cocaine use can also cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue. These effects can persist even after someone stops using cocaine.

Mood swings

  • Cocaine causes a rush of dopamine that leads to feelings of euphoria and increased energy. However, the effects of cocaine are short-lived. Once the drug wears off, you may feel tired and depressed. These mood swings can be extremely intense, occur rapidly, and lead to long-term effects, such as paranoia and anxiety. It can also increase the risk of developing psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. Cocaine use has been linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.

Premature birth and low birth weight

  • Studies have shown that cocaine use can lead to premature birth and low birth weight. In pregnant women, cocaine use can cause the placenta to tear away from the uterine wall, resulting in severe bleeding and potentially fatal complications for both mother and child. Additionally, cocaine use can restrict blood flow to the fetus, leading to developmental problems and low birth weight. Babies born to mothers who use cocaine during pregnancy are also at risk of developmental delays, respiratory problems, and seizures.

Increased risk of bloodborne diseases

  • Cocaine damages the lining of blood vessels, making them more susceptible to infection. Cocaine use also leads to impaired judgment and decision-making, increasing the risk of risky behaviors like sharing needles or having unprotected sex. Users of cocaine are more susceptible to infection because of immunosuppression. Finally, cocaine use can damage the lining of the nose, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infection. These factors increase the risk of developing blood-borne diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C.

Let Us Help You Break Free From Cocaine Addiction

Using cocaine can have devastating long-term effects on the brain and body, but we can help you break free of the cycle of addiction. Our team of experts has a wealth of knowledge and experience in helping people overcome addiction. We’ll work with you to create a treatment plan that fits your needs and helps you live a life free from cocaine. Contact us today if you’re ready to start or continue your recovery journey.

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Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery.

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Patients use this practice to help reframe intrusive or negative thought patterns and develop coping techniques for long-term recovery.

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