Side Effects of Cocaine
Over six million people in the United States chose to purchase and use the illegal drug cocaine.
The drug can be sniffed, snorted, injected or smoked, but no matter how it is taken, either in powder form or crack cocaine in a pipe, cocaine is popular because it produces an intense euphoric feeling.
Cocaine is classified as a stimulant, and while there is no clear evidence to suggest that using small amounts is necessarily harmful to health, understand that human nature will play a significant role in just how dangerous this drug can be.
Because its effects are pleasurable for the user, they want more. As they use more they increase the risk for toxicity and that is where the health problems begin.
Side Effects of Cocaine -- Major Health Problems
Heavy cocaine use can lead to extreme central nervous system stimulation. This can lead to convulsions, which leads to respiratory or cardiac arrest. Amphetamine overdose is similar to this.
However, with cocaine, it is far more difficult to determine exactly what a lethal dose of the drug is, as there have been reports of people dying as a result of their first use. Normally people build up to greater and greater amounts of the drug to achieve their desired effect.
Moreover, there are some uncommon toxic effects to consider, such as sudden cardiac failure. The drug can trigger ventricular fibrillation, a wild and erratic heartbeat, because the vargus nerve, which controls heartbeat, can’t function properly.
If the user injects the drug, they may experience an allergic reaction, either to the cocaine itself or some additive that has been used to cut the drug.
Snorting cocaine can cause irritation and cause a chronic runny nose. But this mild side effect pales in comparison to what else can happen with increased use.
People can become increasingly more irritable, restless and paranoid with sustained use. In some cases, full paranoid-psychosis occurs, as the patient completely loses contact with reality.
They also have auditory hallucinations. However, as the drug leaves the system, most people will recover their faculties. The drug can also contribute to violent behavior, as the user loses touch and cannot make sense of his/her experience.
Chronic cocaine use can also damage the heart. What is particularly troubling is the fact that frequent, albeit brief, disruption of the heart function, caused by the effect of the drug, is what causes the damage.
Side Effects of Cocaine -- It’s HIGHLY Addictive
Still another side effect of cocaine is its highly-addictive nature. Most drug treatment in the United States is for cocaine addiction. In laboratory animals, if given unlimited access to cocaine, the animal will use until it kills itself.
In humans, like laboratory animals, the craving for cocaine will cause them to perform laborious tasks in order to gain access to the drug. The powerful reinforcement of the drug makes people want more. Once a person takes it, chances are good they will want it again and again.
Cocaine is not believed to cause extreme withdrawal symptoms, and because of that, in the past scientists had believed that it was not a dependence-producing drug.
But, after sustained cocaine use, withdrawal is more psychological, as users experience cravings, irritability, anxiety, mood swings, increased appetite and fatigue. However, these withdrawal symptoms are not necessarily evident in all people. Some people may have no symptoms at all.
Side Effects of Cocaine -- Harmful During Pregnancy
Finally, women who are carrying babies are discouraged from using cocaine, because of the risk for spontaneous abortion and a torn placenta. More obvious are the other risks of side effects described above.
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Joe Herzanek discusses the importance of Step 6 in a successful 12-Step recovery, this week on Recovery Now!