The short- and long-term effects of cocaine use and abuse cause a wide variety of health issues from mild to severe.
You can snort, inject or smoke cocaine. In all cases, this illegal drug is a strong central nervous system stimulant which affects the brain’s processing of dopamine.
Cocaine users develop a tolerance over time and report that they are never able to achieve the “high” they felt the first time that they used the drug. As tolerance to the drug develops the euphoric feeling users get is not as intense nor does it last as long.
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When you use cocaine it interferes with the reabsorption of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure and movement, producing a euphoric effect. Shortly after you ingest it using the method of your choice you may experience:
constricted blood vessels
increased body temperature
increased heart rate
higher blood pressure During the euphoric period after cocaine use, which can last up to 30 minutes, you can enjoy the experiences of:
However, some users also have unpleasant experiences of:
During a cocaine binge, any period of time where you use cocaine repeatedly, you may experience:
For some users bingeing on cocaine can lead to:
Repeated cocaine use, rather than occasional recreational use, is abusing this substance and can cause the following health consequences:
Chronic cocaine can use can also cause malnourishment due to the drug’s ability to decrease appetite.
Snorting or injecting cocaine can produce specific health effects, including:
Additionally, when you inject cocaine, the euphoric feeling can last from 15 to 30 minutes, but when you smoke it, the high may last only five to 10 minutes, causing you to use more cocaine more often.
Cocaine is highly addictive and those who smoke cocaine appear to develop an addiction to the drug more rapidly that those who snort it.
See also other effects of long-term cocaine use.
The annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health found “cocaine is the most frequently cited substance in drug-related emergency departments visits” and the National Institutes of Health reports that from 2001 to 2014 there was a 42 percent increase in the total number of cocaine overdose deaths nationally.
Because cocaine affects the heart and respiratory system, an overdose can cause death, especially when you inject or smoke it.
An overdose of cocaine can lead to:
Do you need treatment for drug abuse? Take the Drug Abuse Treatment Screening Quiz to find out.