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Shooting Cocaine – Side Effects and Dangers

The positive effects from shooting cocaine can turn an uptight, anxiety-prone person into a personable, energetic, self-confident individual.

Considering the stressful, hectic lifestyles so typical of our times, it’s no wonder a person becomes so vulnerable to cocaine addiction after experiencing these initial effects. The truth of the matter is these effects wear off fairly quickly while triggering a craving for more of the drug.

The side effects and dangers associated with IV cocaine use are many and tend to grow worse with ongoing use. If you or someone you know continues to struggle with cocaine addiction, understanding how the drug works on the mind and the body as well as finding the best private cocaine inpatient facility might bring you one step closer to breaking its addictive hold on your life.

Cocaine Effects

As one of many stimulant-type drugs, cocaine in particular can take a vicious hold on a person’s overall body chemistry. Once ingested, it affects every organ in the body in one way or another. Part of the reason why it has such an all-encompassing effect has to do with the brain neurotransmitter, dopamine.

Dopamine is one of the brain’s primary neurotransmitters, so it affects nearly every brain center as well as the chemicals secreted by each center.

How cocaine affects you as an individual depends on a wide range of factors, some of which include:

  • How it’s ingested
  • The amount used
  • How pure a particular batch is
  • The types of additives used to cut a batch
  • A person’s emotional state at time of use

Ultimately, cocaine use creates a domino effect that alters the brain chemistry, throws off the central nervous system processes and, over time, damages the physical processes in a person’s body.

Damage to the body also becomes an issue depending on what’s used to cut a particular batch of cocaine.

The cocaine sold on the street has most likely been cut with an additive agent that’s designed to thin out the dealer’s stash and/or intensify the effects of the drug. While some additives, such as baking soda and sugar, may be harmless, some cuts may use toxic additives as well. Over time, the effects of the additives also work to tear down the body’s processes.

If you’ve tried both snorting and shooting cocaine, you’re aware of how much more intense the high can be when shooting versus snorting. Shooting up or intravenous use creates the quickest and most intense effects because the drug goes directly into a person’s bloodstream. This trade-off for speed and intensity ultimately creates a whole other set of risk factors for someone who shoots up.

Cocaine’s Physical Effects: Emergency Room Rates

People who experience physical problems from cocaine use may require emergency room care for different reasons.

Based on information gathered by eMedicineHealth.com, emergency room admissions rates reveal the following types of symptoms treated for cocaine-related conditions:

  • 9 percent of admissions report psychosis-type symptoms
  • 13 percent report feelings of extreme anxiety
  • 10 percent report headache symptoms
  • 9 percent report persistent nausea symptoms

Brain Effects

Shortly after shooting up cocaine, the drug enters the brain region and starts to go to work on the dopamine-releasing cells or neurons. Whenever a neuron secretes a chemical, the chemical enters the synapse space that sits in between brain cells. The longer the chemical sits inside the synapse, the higher its concentration in the brain.

Normally, a process known as reuptake works to move any chemicals inside the synapse into the neighboring cell. In the case of cocaine and dopamine, cocaine delays the reuptake process, which greatly increases dopamine concentrations inside the brain. These high concentrations of dopamine create the intense “high” brought on by cocaine.

Dopamine plays a vital role in regulating a range of bodily functions, some of which include:

  • Attention span
  • Learning
  • Movement
  • Physical and emotional tension/relaxation states

Its effects on these areas explain why you experience bursts of energy, racing thoughts and extreme happiness after shooting cocaine. Over time, it will take more and more cocaine to create the same desired effects, which is how addiction develops. At some point, no amount of cocaine will be able to create these desired effects. Once a person reaches this point, the body has undergone considerable damage overall in terms of nervous system and brain functions.

High concentrations of dopamine also trigger abnormal concentrations of other brain chemicals, some of which include serotonin, norepinephrine and GABA. Under normal conditions, all of these chemicals work together like a finely oiled machine in regulating everything that the body does. So when one chemical is out of balance, it affects how the brain secretes all of the other chemicals. Cocaine’s domino effects have the potential to bring on any number of mental and physical problems depending on how long a person has used and their overall health condition in general.

Physical Signs of Cocaine Abuse

Once a person develops a long history of IV cocaine use, certain physical symptoms will become a part of their everyday life.

Some of the symptoms experienced include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Vertigo or the feeling that the room is spinning
  • Teeth grinding
  • Cold sweats
  • Facial tics or twitching

Addictive Effects of IV Use

The addictive effects of IV cocaine use begin as soon as 15 minutes after the drug has triggered dopamine secretions in the brain.

If you’ve ever shot up cocaine, you may recall having felt a craving for more of the drug soon after shooting up. These cravings are a sign that the brain has begun to balance out the abnormally high levels of dopamine. When this happens, a person may start to feel anxious or irritable or even paranoid while still maintaining some of the positive “high” effects.

According to a Macalester College resource site, the brain has a built-in, self-correcting process that works to maintain normal dopamine levels. While dopamine secretions return to their normal levels, the brain may still be saturated with cocaine even after 15 minutes has passed. These effects may point to cocaine’s ongoing effects on the brain’s opiate receptors. Opiate receptors help regulate pain and relaxation signals throughout the body’s nervous system. In effect, these opiate receptors start to misfire once the brain restores dopamine levels back to normal.

The combined effects of the brain’s self-correcting processes and malfunctioning opiate receptors can drive a person to keep shooting up in hopes of maintaining the initial “high.” While some of the drug’s positive effects will remain, the withdrawal effects will only grow in intensity each time dopamine levels return to normal.

After a while, these conditions can easily bring on a psychotic state where a person may experience hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things. You may also experience extreme mood swings and feel like everyone is out to get you. Some people also start to carry out repetitive behaviors, such as standing up and sitting down over and over again. These reactions are proof positive that an addiction has taken hold of the mind and the body.

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

People who’ve used cocaine on a long-term basis are at serious risk of overdosing as the body craves increasingly larger doses over time.

Some of the symptoms to look for if you suspect you or someone you know may be overdosing include:

  • Acute psychosis syndrome (e.g., visual and/or auditory hallucinations)
  • Delirium
  • Hypertension
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Irregular heartbeat patterns

Heart Complications

Cocaine is well known for its ability to increase a person’s mental and physical energy levels.

These reactions have to do with cocaine’s effects on the body’s sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system centers on the heart and blood vessels, which are operating at high speed under cocaine’s effects. As your heart rate increases, your blood vessels are narrowing. These conditions are the cause of high blood pressure levels.

According to the University of Maryland, all of these effects work to decrease the normal blood supply to the heart. Depending on your overall health status, decreased blood supplies can trigger abnormal heart rhythms, rapid heart rates and even a rupturing of the heart’s aortic valve. With long-term cocaine use, the heart’s main arteries start to harden, which further increases the risk of heart attack, especially when a person continues to use the drug.

The heart complications brought on by IV cocaine use (as well as other methods of use) have sent cocaine users of all ages to the emergency room with complaints of chest pains, palpitations and racing heart rates. Angina symptoms and heart attack are the most common cocaine-related complications reported on in medical journals.

People who have a long history of IV cocaine use are no strangers to the hospital emergency room, with up to 40 percent of patients complaining of chest pains. Heart palpitation symptoms account for another 21 percent of cocaine-related emergency room visits. All of these factors point to how cocaine weakens the heart and blood vessels over time. In effect, a person ends up playing Russian roulette with his life each time he shoots cocaine into his system.

Disease Risks of Shooting Cocaine

The dangers of ongoing IV cocaine use don’t end with heart complications, as needle use in general opens up a whole new set of health risks. Over time, the repeated piercing of the skin can develop into a condition known as cellulitis, an infection that forms at injection sites. These infections can spread deep into the soft tissue beneath an injection site.

Other conditions that can develop from cellulitis include:

  • Tetanus
  • Heart valve infections
  • Lung abscesses
  • Brain abscesses
  • Lockjaw
  • Abscesses at the IV site

Also of concern is the group practice of sharing needles and “cooking” equipment when shooting up cocaine. Unless these items are sterilized each time a person shoots up, the risk of contracting diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis C increase dramatically, according to a Princeton University report. While it’s well known that needle-sharing places every member in the group at risk, the sharing of equipment, such as cotton balls, spoons or cookers provides other ways for disease-related viruses to travel from person to person.

If you know someone who’s trying to quit shooting cocaine or you yourself struggle with cocaine addiction, you can call us at the number above for more information. We are here 24/7 to answer your questions and to help you find the treatment you need.

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