Facts about the Effects of Cocaine Use and Addiction to Cocaine

cocaine useCocaine is a very powerful substance that most people use without necessarily considering its extremely harmful effects. This attitude isn’t helped by the attention it gets in various popular movies and song lyrics. The truth is, cocaine use is illegal in almost all countries, and its effects are far from glamorous.


 The Three Cs… Coca, Cocaine and Crack

Cocaine is a purified extract from the leaves of the coca bush that grows in South America’s Andes region. The two main forms of cocaine are formed by different chemical processes:

  • Powdered cocaine – Street names: “coke” or “blow.” Powdered cocaine can be snorted; it also dissolves in water and can be injected.
  • Crack cocaine – Street names include “crack” or “rock.” Made by chemical process that retains its “freebase” form, which can be smoked.

Regardless of the way it is taken in, cocaine quickly enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain.

What Happens with Cocaine Use

Cocaine interferes with the brain’s chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) by which nerves communicate by blocking them from being reabsorbed; this is what causes the “high” sensation. In contrast with this feeling, however, some cocaine users also describe irritability, restlessness, paranoia and anxiety. Signs of cocaine use include dilated pupils, high levels of energy and activity and excited speech.

Effects of Cocaine Use on the Body:

When cocaine travels through the blood, it affects the entire body, harming the brain, heart, blood vessels and lungs in the following ways.

  • Increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting the arteries supplying blood to the heart. This can result in a heart attack in users of any age, even those without existing heart problems. Abnormal heart rhythm called arrhythmia can be triggered by cocaine.
  • Strokes can be caused when cocaine constricts blood vessels in the brain; cocaine can also cause seizures, as well as lead to violent behavior.
  • Snorting cocaine takes its toll on the lungs and respiratory system, damaging the nose and sinuses (including nasal perforation). Smoking crack cocaine irritates lungs and can even cause damage that is permanent.
  • Cocaine use can be responsible for sudden kidney failure through rhabdomyolysis, a serious syndrome resulting from a breakdown of muscle fibers and release of their contents into the bloodstream; complications such as kidney (renal) failure can then occur.

The Brain on Cocaine: Psychological Effects:

Once cocaine dependence is present, stopping the drug suddenly leads to withdrawal, the majority of which are more psychological than physiological and typically include:

  • cocaine usedepression and anxiety
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • increased craving for cocaine

Physical symptoms including aches, pains, tremors and chills.

Help for Addiction to Cocaine

Remember, there is no “safe” frequency of use for cocaine. If dependence has taken hold, however, recovery from addiction to cocaine is entirely possible, especially if handled in the right setting, through a properly qualified drug rehabilitation program. If cocaine use continues without treatment, a cocaine addict may end up permanently impaired; in more severe cases, the individual may die. Call for help for yourself or your loved one without delay.


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