People may seek out cocaine for its desirable initial effects, but soon learn that the euphoric high is very short-lived. This can lead to increasing cocaine consumption, can quickly develop into a substance use disorder. Cocaine is a highly addictive illicit drug that has the potential to destroy personal finances and health, and even lead to death.
In the 1980s, cocaine was viewed as a party drug that guaranteed a lot of energy and zero need for sleep. The dark side of cocaine addiction was eventually revealed, as high-profile celebrities lost their fortunes and careers to the drug.
After years of steady decline, cocaine use has slowly risen again over the last five years. Along with this increase have come cocaine-related overdose deaths, with nearly 16,000 occurring in 2019. In many cases, the deaths involved fentanyl, a drug that is now routinely cut into cocaine that is sold on the street. Continue reading to learn about the short and long-term effects of cocaine use.
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine, also known as coke, is a powerful stimulant and a DEA designated Schedule II controlled substance. Cocaine is derived from the coca plant that is indigenous to South America. Cocaine hydrochloride, the purified chemical that comes from the plant, is the basis for the white powdery substance that is referred to as cocaine.
Cocaine is ingested as a powder that is snorted or a liquefied version that is injected. Crack cocaine is the street name for cocaine that is smoked, or “freebased,” as it makes crackling sounds when being smoked. Dealers often insert other substances into the cocaine, like cornstarch, flour, or baking powder, to increase profitability. But recently, fentanyl has become a popular additive into cocaine supplies.
Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine is highly addictive because of its impact on the brain’s reward system. Its pleasurable effects send a message to the brain that cements it in memory as a positive experience to relive again. As the drug is used over time, it can alter brain function and structures, leading to addiction.
- Short-Term Effects. The reason cocaine is so addictive is its initial effects. These are the short-lived effects that lead to repeated cocaine use and draw the person into the cycle of addiction:
- Euphoric high
- Boosted energy
- Manic mood
- Heightened cognitive functions
- Sense of invincibility
- Need for less sleep
The short-term adverse effects include paranoia, aggression, nosebleeds, hallucinations, exhaustion, cravings, and rapid heart rate.
- Long-Term Effects. Extended cocaine use can have very serious adverse health effects. The effects related to long-term cocaine use and addiction include:
- Enlarged heart
- Destruction of interior nasal tissue and cartilage
- Heart attacks
- Vascular damage
- Financial ruin
- Cardiac arrest
Receiving Help for Cocaine Addiction
To overcome the grip of prolonged cocaine use, it is necessary to first undergo supervised withdrawal management. The process is uncomfortable and will require support to help manage the withdrawal symptoms. This takes approximately one week on average.
Rehabilitation will involve a multi-pronged treatment approach that involves evidence-based psychotherapies, holistic therapies, education, and group support. Therapies that are shown to be effective for cocaine addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and contingency management. These help the person slowly unwind the reflexive behaviors that have kept them trapped by cocaine use.
The long-term effects of cocaine use are serious, but there is help available to assist you or a loved one overcome this powerful substance use disorder. It is never too late to get the help you deserve.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.