Cocaine is a powerful and addictive narcotic.
Cocaine remains a controlled substance across the world, despite having some medical and therapeutic applications in pain relief. However, in almost every country cocaine remains highly legal to possess and even more so to distribute. Cocaine is sold in various forms, usually though as white, rocky powder. However, it does come as a paste or solidified in rock form which is known as crack cocaine.
No matter the form, cocaine is a stimulant that can:
- Speed up various psychological processes
- Numb your nostril or gums
- Make one sensitive to light, sound, and touch
- Increase sexual desire
- Reduce hunger
- Keep you awake
- Increase blood pressure
- Influence your mental health
Cocaine like any narcotic takes as well as gives. There isn’t a way to take cocaine long-term without health problems - serious physical, emotional, and financial issues. How long the effects of cocaine last depend on potency, tolerance, and method of consumption.
Either way, the effects appear almost immediately and can last hours. The faster the substance is absorbed the more intense the high. Cocaine also gives you powerful cravings, meaning taking just a single line is rare. Cocaine withdrawal, even for a first-time user, is unpleasant.
Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use
- An increased heart rate
- A dopamine boost
- An increased body temperature
- Gnashing of the teeth
- A numbing of the gums
- Blood vessel constriction
- Dilated pupils
Depending on the dosage or tolerance, cocaine may also impact one’s behaviour and the ability to think rationally. Cocaine can make one feel restless and irritable or even prone to violence. It can make people paranoid, or bring on a bout of anxiety.
More seriously, the wrong dose of cocaine can:
- Disturb your heartbeat or heart rhythm
- Induce a seizure
- Bring on a stroke
- Cause severe abdominal pain
- Cause a heart attack
There are cases of people who died after taking cocaine only once. Cocaine-related deaths are usually the result of a seizure or cardiac arrest. Cocaine is often mixed with alcohol, and the combination of the two can be very toxic and result in a cocaine overdose. Some may mix cocaine and heroin together for an up and down high, but again, the combination of the two leads to all sorts of risks.
Long-term effects of cocaine
When short-term use turns into drug addiction, there’s more risk of new and exaggerated health issues. These lasting health risks can include:
- Significant weight loss
- Chest pain
- Cardiac arrests
- Deviated septum
- An inability to taste or smell
- Unending headaches
- High blood pressure
- An increased risk of hepatitis
- Strokes, heart attacks and death
Let’s dive a little deeper here.
How cocaine impacts the heart
Constant cocaine use will increase the risk of blood clots, which in turn can lead to pulmonary embolisms, strokes, and heart attacks, or other cardiovascular issues. It can and will increase inflammation of the heart muscle and its ability to contract.
How cocaine impacts your breathing
When cocaine is smoked (freebase), it can cause severe respiratory damage, reducing the amount of oxygen in the bloodstream which can end in pneumonia, asthma and acute respiratory diseases.
How cocaine impacts the nose
Snorting cocaine damages the nose’s ability to moisturize itself, it harms the mucous membranes in the nasal cavity. This, over time, damages the cartilage and soft tissue, and after a while can deviate the septum - meaning your nose caves in. This also reduces a sense of smell and taste, more nosebleeds and issues swallowing.
How cocaine impacts the kidney and liver
The toxicity of cocaine as it metabolises can injure the liver. Constant cocaine abuse causes muscle fibres to die, and the contents then enter the bloodstream. This can lead to rhabdomyolysis (muscle damage) and have serious complications for the kidney.
How cocaine impacts the digestive system
Cocaine may reduce blood flow to the stomach, which can lead to ulcers and tears. It can also result in ischemic colitis, which is the inflammation of the large intestine.
How cocaine impacts the brain
Coke causes blood vessel constriction, and a constant constriction will reduce the amount of oxygen the brain receives. This reduction can cause brain damage over time. Additional risks include seizures, brain shrinking (cerebral atrophy), psychosis, and strokes.
Serious cocaine addiction can cause an impairment of basic cognitive functions, impacting how one remembers things, makes decisions and motor skills. This is before we’ve even evaluated how long-term cocaine use impacts your mental health or central nervous system.
If you’ve become concerned about yours, or a loved one’s drug use there is help everywhere. One simply needs to put the name of their town into Google, followed by “addiction treatment” and you’ll find someone to talk to. There's always a helpline available, no matter where you are.
And it’s imperative you do, as we’ve demonstrated above, the side effects can be incredibly dangerous. Long-term use is only possible through detoxification.
On a more short-term affair, check out the EZ Test for cocaine purity, which is able to identify various cutting agents. These adulterants can make a cocaine trip far riskier, so using a single-use drug testing kit like EZ Test can help you make more informed decisions.