Cocaine is used legally, in the medical field for its anesthetic properties. Illegally, it is sought after for its stimulant properties, which produce intense bursts of euphoria and energy in users. Despite its strong effects, the “high” from cocaine is relatively short lasting in comparison with other commonly abused substances. It is this short intensity and “the need for more” that makes cocaine a highly addictive substance.

Cocaine is commonly snorted through the nasal cavity, but it can be converted into crack-cocaine which is typically smoked or injected. The effects of crack-cocaine are relatively similar to cocaine, but are generally far more intense than the effects of powdered cocaine. Crack cocaine is more dangerous and more addictive.

Cocaine’s Effects

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant. It puts the body and mind into a hyperactive state where they are working much harder than they normally would to function. The more an individual is pushed into this overactive state, the greater the mental and physical duress is on the various systems of the body. Here are some of the ways that cocaine affects the body:

  • Vascular System: Cocaine causes large and sudden elevations in heart rate and blood pressure. This stress constricts blood vessels and puts individuals at risk for heart disease.
  • Brain: The constriction of blood vessels puts the brain under large amounts of stress which puts individuals at risk for stroke and seizures.
  • Respiratory System: Cocaine damages the mucus membranes of the nose, throat and lungs.
  • Kidneys: Cocaine can cause sudden kidney damage and/or failure. This is especially risky in individuals with high blood pressure.
  • Reproductive System: Despite cocaines reputation as an aphrodisiac, chronic cocaine use has been significantly linked with impaired sexual functioning in both males and females.

Cocaine Side Effects and Symptoms

Since cocaine puts so much stress on the systems of the body, it causes many undesirable side effects and symptoms. Most short term effects are experienced as psychological symptoms or mood disorders, but it is important to note that cocaine can cause sudden and extreme physical damage and even sudden cardiac death. These effects have been observed in otherwise healthy individuals that ordinarily would not be at high risk for heart attack or stroke. Side effects of cocaine use include:

  • Agitation and Restless Behavior
  • Depressed Mood
  • Fatigue
  • Generalized Malaise
  • Increased Appetite
  • Irritability
  • Poor Concentration
  • Slowing of Activity
  • Trouble with Sleep
  • Vivid and/or Unpleasant Dreams
  • In the long-term, these symptoms can develop into more serious conditions such as severe depression, anxiety, and other chronic mood disorders. Long term cocaine use can also place users at risk for:

    • Cardiovascular Disease
    • Heart Disease
    • Lung Disease
    • Ulcers and Other Stomach Conditions
    • Chronic Psychosis
    • Stroke
    • Seizures
    • Heart Disease and Failure
    • Kidney Disease and Failure