Within a few seconds after taking cocaine, the pupils will enlarge, body temperature will increase as heart rate and blood pressure begin to speed up and constrict. Soon afterward is a rush of energy, alertness, and euphoria that quickly wears off and leaves you wanting more. This cycle of bingeing cocaine is common in recreational users. Unfortunately, the physiological repercussions of constantly putting the body in such a state of distress are widespread and drastic. Read on to learn the extent of what does cocaine does to your body.
How Cocaine Affects the Brain
The three-pound control center of the human body, cocaine does quite a number on your most important organ. It disrupts several important neurochemicals (dopamine, serotonin, GABA, norepinephrine, and glutamate) which could result in permanent motivation, memory, decision-making impairment.
One of the ways the cocaine works is by blocking certain receptors, one of which causes a buildup of dopamine. This is the cause of the sensations of euphoria, but it comes at a steep long-term cost. This dopamine surplus can also have a significant impact on mood regulation and lead to depression, anxiety, paranoia, and aggression.
The destruction of neuron receptors can also cause users to experience symptoms similar to that of Parkinson’s disease such as tremors, seizures, and brain hemorrhages.
How Cocaine Affects the Nose
Snorting is one of the most common methods of using cocaine, and it is not one without consequence. The initial effects are that of the blood vessels. Cocaine causes these to constrict which lowers blood flow and can lead to permanent damage. Repeated snorting irritates the thin membranous tissue in the airways which can result in inflammation, infection, disruption of blood flow, decay, and eventually tearing. Naturally, the loss of smell (anosmia) is also quite prevalent. Physical deformity caused by these substances is sometimes referred to as “cocaine nose”.
How Cocaine Affects the Heart
Have you ever felt your heart pounding in your chest after being really scared or agitated? Imagine the toll it would take if your heart pounded like that for nearly half an hour. Yes, some of the most dangerous effects of cocaine are the ones it has on the cardiovascular system. This is also why chest pain is one of the most common complaints of cocaine users.
Cocaine blocks the reuptake of norepinephrine, an important neurotransmitter, chemical, and hormone that works closely with the sympathetic nervous system, a.k.a. our fight-or-flight mode. The increased levels of norepinephrine keep the body in an extended state of excitement which forces the heart to work harder. Heart rate increases, blood pressure increases while oxygen and blood flow to the heart are restricted. It’s a dangerous recipe that can result in a myriad of cardiovascular issues such as:
- Aortic dissection
- Coronary artery aneurysm
- Myocardial infarction
- Heart failure
How Cocaine Affects Gastrointestinal Systems
Gastrointestinal distress is a less common side effect of cocaine, but when it occurs, can quickly become life-threatening. Bowel decay is one of the most serious of these and is caused by a lack of blood flow to the intestines. It is most commonly associated with oral use of cocaine. Closely related is intestinal perforation (damage to the bowel wall) that can lead to the contents of your intestines to spill into your abdomen which can cause peritonitis and eventually, sepsis. Nausea and vomiting can be an indication that such an infection has occurred. Other GI issues that can occur are:
- Stomach ulcers
- Abdominal cramps
- Abdominal bleeding
- A decrease in appetite (often paired with sudden weight loss)
- Change in metabolism
Healing the Damages Cocaine Does To Your Body
Cocaine use affects nearly every major organ group with a focus on the central nervous system. In addition to wreaking havoc on specific parts of your body, cocaine can also lead to a domino effect of complex and compound health complications. Depending on the severity of cocaine usage, some of the damage may be reversible. However, this healing can only occur once you have detoxed and all remnants of cocaine are out of your system. If you are concerned about going through cocaine withdrawal alone, we can guide you through the process and determine the best method of treatment for you.