Cocaine increases the level of dopamine in the brain. Cocaine can be smoked, injected, or inhaled and the effects are felt immediately. The brain rapidly releases dopamine, and produces the euphoric feelings. Cocaine is very addictive, harmful, and can be deadly. A person who uses it is at high risk of addiction, which can lead to serious health complications. When the levels of dopamine decline, the withdrawal symptoms start.
Cocaine changes brain chemistry and leads to behavioral abnormalities such as erratic behavior, psychotic symptoms, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As the brain adapts to the amount of cocaine that is used, it takes stronger, more frequent doses to reach the same pleasurable high.
Cocaine can cause long-term changes in your brain’s chemistry. “Your body and mind begin to rely on the drug. This can make it harder for you to think, sleep, and recall things from memory. Your reaction time may be slower. And you’re at risk for more heart, stomach, and lung problems.” (WebMD).
How cocaine affects mental and physical health
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), states that cocaine use leads to increased irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia, and psychosis. “There have been reports of intracerebral hemorrhage, or bleeding within the brain, and balloon-like bulges in the walls of cerebral blood vessels. Movement disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, may also occur after many years of cocaine use.”
Cocaine use causes physical health complications, such as heart failure, respiratory issues, stroke, and seizures. Some physical symptoms of cocaine use include nosebleeds, insomnia, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, and nausea. Cocaine also causes blood borne infectious conditions, such as HIV or hepatitis C, which are related to the injection of cocaine and non-sterile needle use.
Cocaine has significant toxic effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. Cocaine use is linked with increased risk of stroke and inflammation of the heart muscle, deterioration of the ability of the heart to contract, and aortic ruptures.
Long-term cocaine use
Cognitive functions are impaired with long-term cocaine use, such as impulse inhibition, memory, making decisions, and motor skills. Cocaine use puts a person at risk for relationship problems, job loss, financial troubles, and incarceration.
Cocaine use puts you at high risk of organ failure, overdose, and early death. If you or a loved one is battling an addiction, get help now. Addiction is isolating, but you are not alone. Treatment is available and there is hope in recovery.
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