Cocaine is a powerful addictive stimulant known by various street names like coca, snow and powder. Cocaine, a purified extract of the Erythroxylum coca bush, a plant native to South America, is available in two forms – powdered cocaine and crack cocaine. There are various ways of consuming it – by injecting, snorting or smoking. Considered as a strong central nervous system psychostimulant, cocaine is known to stimulate the key pleasure centers of the brain and heighten the sense of euphoria among its users.
Constant and long-term use of cocaine can alter the user’s brain chemistry, leading to long-term changes in the brain’s reward system. Once consumed, cocaine users often experience a euphoric high that is immediately followed by intense drug cravings. Repeated and long-term cocaine use helps build tolerance, gradually leading to drug dependence. In such a situation, an individual would need more of the drug to achieve the same euphoric effect, followed by cocaine addiction. Cocaine is often abused along with alcohol and other drugs like heroin and marijuana.
Effects of cocaine
Cocaine affects the user’s body and mind. Its long-term and frequent use can lead to disorientation, respiratory failure, drug tolerance, dependence and addiction. Some of the side effects of cocaine abuse are anxiety, depression, heart attack and even death.
Following are some of the short-term effects of cocaine use:
- Dilated pupils
- Intense euphoria
- Loss of appetite
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Erratic and sometimes violent behavior
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
Following are some of the long-term effects of cocaine use:
- Respiratory failure
- Severe tooth decay
- High blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Liver, kidney and lung damage
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Permanent damage to heart and brain’s blood vessels
Among the most serious side effects of cocaine abuse are increased heart damage that can lead to heart diseases and heart attacks. Long-term cocaine use can also lead to heart attacks or strokes, which may result in sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of cardiac arrest followed by suffocation.