Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that is very easy to become addicted to. Using cocaine for a long-term period, which is likely once you start, can lead to many health and life problems.

If you are addicted to cocaine, or someone close to you is, there are options available to you. You might be able to turn around some of the consequences that cocaine has caused for yourself and your family, and improve your overall quality of life greatly. Call us today if you are looking for a program to help with cocaine addiction.

Dependence on Cocaine

Once a person becomes addicted to cocaine, they are likely to struggle with it on a long-term basis. This is because cocaine changes the brain by decreasing the receptors of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for feeling good and motivation. Because of this, the person is likely to relapse back to using cocaine, even if they have been off it for an extended period of time.
Also, over time, the drug can affect the person differently if they become tolerant to it. They will need more of the drug to get the same effects they’re looking for, but they can also feel some of the negative effects of the drug even more, such as anxiety. Over time, the use of cocaine can cause serious effects to the mind and body, such as paranoia, hallucinations and panic attacks.

The Way Cocaine Is Taken

Snorting CocaineThe way that cocaine is taken can lead to different negative effects from it. Long-term consequences of injecting cocaine can cause marks in the body and allergic reactions that can be serious and potentially fatal.

Snorting cocaine can lead to a number of problems in the nose and throat, which can all become long-term problems.

These include:

  • Losing one’s sense of smell
  • Nosebleeds
  • Nose irritation
  • Running nose
  • Swelling in the nose
  • Chronic sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Ulcers in the nostrils
  • Tissue death
  • Nasal septum perforation
  • Hoarseness in the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
Taking cocaine by ingesting it can lead to tissue death in the bowels as well. Overall, taking cocaine in any form can lead to dangerous weight loss and a lack of nutrients, generally from a loss of appetite.

Heart Problems

Using cocaine can lead to a number of ongoing heart problems. This is the area of the body primarily affected by using cocaine, according to a September 2005 study in the Postgraduate Medical Journal.

The following are some long-term effects on the heart from cocaine use:

  • Chest pain: This affects the majority of long-term cocaine users
  • Cardiomyopathy: The heart muscle deteriorates
  • Myocarditis: The heart muscle swells
  • Endocarditis: A heart valve infection usually caused by injecting cocaine, which can lead to death
  • Heart attacks
  • Aortic dissection: Bleeding in the wall of the main aorta artery

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine on the Brain

Cocaine and The BrainJust like many other drugs, cocaine changes the reward center of the brain because it affects the neurotransmitter dopamine. However, a December 2008 study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse discovered that long-term use of the drug can affect more of the brain than just that specific area. Researchers studied monkeys over a long-term period to see how cocaine changed their brains. The study found that, over time, neural activity is reduced in many areas of the brain, affecting areas including those responsible for memory, processing information, eating, sleeping, mood and repetitive behavior. The study found that some human imaging studies have found similar brain patterns in long-term cocaine users.

Additional Health Problems

Using cocaine for a long period of time can lead to many additional health problems throughout the body. These issues include headaches, stroke, convulsions and seizures. Cocaine can also cause damage to the lungs and lung disease, as well as kidney failure.

Related to sexual health, cocaine use can cause sexual dysfunction, including trouble ejaculating and erectile problems in men, and it can even cause infertility or other reproductive problems.

Related to mental health, cocaine use can cause mood problems, feelings of irritability and even hallucinations. Long-term use results in a lower amount of dopamine in the brain. Among other problems, this can cause hyperprolactinemia, which is higher than normal amounts of the hormone prolactin. Over time, using cocaine can also lead to anxiety and depression, even if you’ve never had these conditions before.

Mixing Cocaine Can Lead to Additional Consequences

Many people mix cocaine with other substances. In addition to the effects of the cocaine, the person can develop long-term effects from the other drug, as well as from the combination of substances. Some of the drugs that can cause negative effects from mixing them with cocaine include:

  • Alcohol
  • Heroin
  • Amphetamines
  • Fentanyl

Depending on the drugs you mix with cocaine, the combination can lead to some serious long-term consequences. Mixing cocaine with fentanyl can cause breathing problems, coma, drug tolerance and more. The combination of alcohol and cocaine, or cocaine and amphetamines, can cause a heart attack. Mixing cocaine with heroin can easily lead to an overdose and cause heart trouble. These are only a sample of the consequences of mixing other drugs with cocaine; the effects can vary accordingly to the specific drug used in concert with cocaine.

If you want to mix drugs because you’re looking to boost your high, remember that the combination will also boost the consequences. Some drugs cause opposite effects from each other, while some drugs cause the same effects. When they are combined, the mixture creates new effects in the body, which are often too much for the body to handle.

Consequences of Prenatal Cocaine Use

Prenatal Cocaine UseUsing cocaine while pregnant can cause serious long-term effects for your baby. The May 2004 issue of MSA Newsline, a publication of the Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development Project of Emory College, looked at ongoing effects of prenatal cocaine use on the children. Overall, they found that it caused some negative physical effects, such as problems developing and a smaller head size. Some children experienced trouble paying attention, feeling depressed and behavior problems such as being impulsive. Nonetheless, some children grew normally.

However, the study discovered that the larger problem was in regard to how the children were raised. When the mothers were still abusing drugs, the children tended to grow up with poverty, abuse, neglect and other problems that affected them mentally and physically. These can also be considered long-term effects of using cocaine and other drugs.

Life Consequences

In addition to effects on your health, cocaine can also have long-term consequences in your life in general. Using cocaine can ruin personal and professional relationships. An addiction to cocaine can end up destroying many aspects of your life, and it can drastically change the lives of those around you.

Are you looking for help from a cocaine addiction for you or a loved one? There are options available to you. These can include treatment to stop a cocaine addiction in its tracks, therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy, and support networks like Cocaine Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. There are no drugs approved to help with the treatment of cocaine, although many are being studied, which might be an option in the future.