5 Types of Cocaine Drug Effects You Should Know

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is illegal for recreational use. It can be used in several ways and may be snorted, smoked, or injected directly into the veins. Although using this drug may feel good due to the flood of dopamine in your brain’s reward circuit, there are many potential cocaine drug effects that can cause lasting damage to your body. Today, we discuss 5 of these effects.

5 cocaine drug effects you should know

There are many potential adverse effects of cocaine, from a fast or irregular heartbeat to increased blood pressure to restlessness, among others. These effects will appear almost instantaneously after using cocaine and can take up to an hour to subside. The duration and severity of the effects largely depend on whether the drug was smoked, injected, or snorted.

1. Brain

Cocaine can change the way your brain works. It can impact the way your brain handles stress and make you more likely to seek drugs while you are stressed. Prolonged and heavy cocaine use can also desensitize the receptors to the reward centers in your brain, meaning that it takes higher and/or more frequent doses to achieve the desired effect. This, in turn, increases the risk of overdose.

Cocaine also changes the way your orbitofrontal cortex works. This can impact your self-insight and decision-making surrounding drug use, making it that much harder to seek treatment when you need it most.

2. Nose

People who primarily snort cocaine are susceptible to long-term damage to the nose.

Cocaine effects on your nose include:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Frequent infections
  • Anosmia (loss of smell)
  • Allergy exacerbation
  • Nasal obstruction
  • ‘Whistling’ noises as you breathe
  • Nasal deformity or collapse

Long-term cocaine use can also cause a condition known as a ‘Perforated Septum’. This condition manifests as a hole in the nasal septum, the soft partition located between your nostrils.

Cocaine use causes the blood vessels in your nose to constrict, cutting off the normal flow of blood to your nose. Since oxygen cannot get to the tissues inside the septum, the lining begins to die. If it completely dies, the cartilage that it supports also dies. In more severe cases, a septal perforation can cause the nose to collapse, leading to a ‘saddle nose’, which appears as an indent in the middle of your nose.

Septal perforations can be treated and reversed with medical attention. If caught early, surgery may not be needed to repair the perforation.

3. Heart

Cocaine is a stimulant that increases heart rate and blood pressure in the short term. It also inhibits the normal reuptake of norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, which are neurotransmitters that facilitate communications throughout your nervous system. As a result, activity throughout the sympathetic nervous system becomes prolonged and exaggerated.

This increased activity puts a great deal of stress on the cardiovascular system, increasing its need for oxygen. At the same time, the system is unable to get adequate oxygen because cocaine constricts capillaries, restricting normal blood flow to the heart. In short, your heart has to work harder, and repeated stresses can cause long-term damage.

Cocaine’s effects on the heart are well documented. Studies consistently show both short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) effects.

These effects include:

  • Hypertension
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heart beat)
  • Heart attacks
  • Inflammation of the heart
  • Aortic ruptures
  • Decreased ability of the heart to contract
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Blood clots

4. Teeth

Individuals who use cocaine primarily by rubbing it into their gums or snorting it through the nose may see changes to their teeth.

Cocaine effects on the teeth include:

  • Bruxism: Premature wearing from clenching or grinding teeth.
  • Xerostomia: More commonly known as dry mouth, this condition inhibits your mouth’s ability to keep your teeth clean and protect tooth enamel.
  • Palatal perforation: A hole that develops in the roof of the mouth due to damaged tissues.
  • Chronic gingivitis: a gum condition that causes redness, irritation, and swelling.
  • Periodontitis: A condition that damages soft tissues and the bone supporting your teeth.
  • Ulcers: Painful mouth sores that can result from applying cocaine directly on the gums.
  • Tooth decay: Areas in your teeth which are permanently damaged and can cause holes, pain, infections, and tooth loss.
  • Brittle teeth that are susceptible to breaks or cracks.

5. Pupils

In the short term, cocaine use causes dilated pupils that don’t constrict when exposed to bright lights. It can also increase your sensitivity to sunny days and bright rooms. You may also notice red and bloodshot eyes after cocaine use.

Long-term effects of cocaine use in the eyes include:

  • Endophthalmitis: An infection that can occur in individuals who inject cocaine intravenously. This infection may result from un-sanitized needles.
  • Glaucoma: This eye condition develops due to fluctuations in blood pressure. Since cocaine influences heart rate and blood pressure, long-term use can cause glaucoma. A recent study found that cocaine users have an estimated 45 percent higher chance of developing glaucoma than non-cocaine users.
  • Keratitis: Crack cocaine use can contribute to the development of keratitis, a swelling of the clear eyeball covering. Left untreated, this condition can distort vision, cause infections, and even lead to holes in the cornea.
  • Maculopathy: Cocaine use can decay the retina, which is located at the back of the eye and transmits messages about what is seen to the brain. Retina decay can cause blurred vision and distortions.
  • Nystagmus: Also known as eye twitches, nystagmus consists of involuntary, rapid eye motion that results from brain and nerve damage from prolonged cocaine use.
  • Ocular bone damage: Similar to septal perforations, ocular bone damage occurs when tissues around the eye that are chronically deprived of oxygen begin to die. Continued drug use will cause holes and depressions in these bones.
  • Retinal vascular occlusive disease (RVOD): A disease commonly linked to the loss of vision. Cocaine causes blood pressure changes that can contribute to abnormal growth in the retina, blood vessel growth or bleeding, or other swelling that can cause permanent blindness.
  • Talc retinopathy: Talc is a powdery white mineral that is often used as a cocaine filler. This mineral does not dissolve in the blood, so it remains in the bloodstream, where it can build up on vascular tissues of the eye. Continued drug use, and thus continued talc buildup, can cause blindness.
  • Yellow-colored eyes: Cocaine use can cause damage to your liver. Yellow colored eyes result from problems in liver, kidney, or gallbladder function as these organs can no longer filter waste properly.

Related:

Avoid Cocaine Drug Effects With Elite Home Detox

Although the short term effects of cocaine may include extreme happiness, energy, and mental alertness, they can also come with paranoia, irritability, and hypersensitivity to sensations. As discussed, regular use can lead to permanent damage and other long term effects of cocaine, and these effects depend on how the drug was primarily taken.

Beyond short and long term side effects, there is always the potential for overdose – especially if the drug has been cut with additives. That’s why it’s so important to seek treatment regardless of whether you’ve been addicted for months or years. Elite Home Detox can help with our convenient, customized in-home detox program.

Give us a call or book a consultation using the button below. We’re ready to help you make a full recovery that lasts.

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