Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine

The lasting effects of cocaine substance abuse can be severe and life-threatening. They range from perforation of the oral pallet from snorting the substance to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Cocaine causes a number of changes to the body in the short term and long term.

Long-term effects of cocaine use include an increased chance of having a heart attack, developing irreparable damage to the nose and mouth, and overdosing on cocaine.

Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine

If you or a loved one are dealing with a cocaine addiction, it’s important to understand these effects of cocaine abuse so you can be prepared to address them with proper treatment.

Take the opportunity to discover how this addictive drug affects the body in the long term.

Effects On The Heart

The cardiovascular system is affected by cocaine abuse very heavily. Blood vessels constrict with its use, and increased heart rate and high blood pressure are very common.

Intense chest pains after using this drug are also common and can mimic a heart attack. Simultaneously, the risk of heart attack increases dramatically with chronic use.

Infections of the heart tissue can also occur. This risk is increased if cocaine cutting agents are present, such as baking powder, powdered milk, and others.

These problems with the heart and blood flow can also lead to lasting negative health effects throughout the rest of the body, such as the brain and the gastrointestinal tract.

Effects On The Brain And Mind

The long-term effects of cocaine use on mental health are very well studied. Cocaine disrupts the brain’s natural dopamine levels and floods the brain with this neurotransmitter.

Because dopamine is vital to the reward system, motivation, mood, and memory, this has a profound effect on the minds of people who engage in this drug use.

Over time, new neural pathways are formed that reward only cocaine use. This means all other forms of pleasure are rewarded less and less, considerably adding to cravings.

This tends to increase stress levels, agitation, and irritability, and create poor sleep patterns. Brain damage can also occur with repeated use, as well as seizures, psychosis, and stroke.

Effects On The Nose, Mouth, And Lungs

There are many ways to use cocaine, and when it comes in the form of a white powder, it is common to snort or smoke the substance.

These methods of ingestion pose many risks to the mouth, nose, throat, and lungs. Smoking cocaine, for example, can lead to severe lung damage.

Runny nose and nosebleeds are common when snorting cocaine, as well as a loss of smell. The effects of cocaine use on the nose have earned it the nickname “cocaine nose”.

Long-term, snorting can also lead to perforation of the oral palate, as direct contact with cocaine can cause cellular death in the nose and septum area.

Often, the mouth is affected by cocaine no matter the method of use. This is because, as a stimulant, cocaine contracts the muscles, leading to twitching and clenching of the jaw.

Teeth grinding disorders, even to the point of dental erosion, are common with long-term cocaine addiction. This is especially the case when the substance is rubbed on the gums.

Cocaine Withdrawal And Overdose

The effects of cocaine abuse do not stop when the use of the drug has ended. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can begin shortly after a person’s last use and remain for several months.

You may see a number of mental signs of cocaine withdrawal, such as:

  • agitation
  • fatigue
  • discomfort
  • nightmares
  • depression
  • slowing of activity

As is the case with many types of substance use disorders, chronic use can present an increased risk of cocaine overdose over time.

This is because the body builds up a tolerance to the drug, and more is needed each time to achieve the same euphoric effects as the first use.

Other Long-Term Health Risks Of Cocaine Use

Cocaine abuse can have other long-term side effects, as well. For example, cocaine can affect the rate at which infectious diseases spread throughout the body, such as HIV and hepatitis.

Ulcers are common due to changes in the pH levels in the stomach. Additionally, cocaine can affect body temperature: body temperature often decreases due to restrictions in blood flow.

In short, the toxicity of this drug leads to long-term health consequences in nearly all areas of the body.

Fortunately, treatment is available to ease the severity of these long-term implications or heal them altogether.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment Options At Spring Hill

There is always hope, and addiction treatment for cocaine use is possible. If you or a loved one is in need of health care, don’t wait — call Spring Hill Recovery Center today.

Our treatment center is prepared to give life-changing care to all who need it. Contact our helpline now to learn which of our many levels of addiction care is right for your situation.

  1. National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) — Cocaine alters body temperature and behavioral thermoregulatory responses https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8453030/
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  3. National Institute of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - Cocaine Research Report: What is Cocaine? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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