As a powerful stimulant drug that elevates levels of the “feel good” chemical dopamine in the brain, cocaine is highly addictive. Unfortunately, long-term use comes with a host of health problems, and even short-term cocaine abuse can be dangerous for health.

The damaging effects of cocaine use on health & the body

Here, learn about the dangers of this drug, and why it’s important to reach out for help to stop using cocaine, even if you’ve only been using it recreationally.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine

One of the dangers of cocaine is the fact that as a stimulant drug, it has a strong effect on the cardiovascular system. This means that it constricts the blood vessels, increases blood pressure, and can elevate the heart rate. As scientists writing for Trends in Cardiovascular Medicine explain, cocaine has severe effects on the cardiovascular system, because it increases the demands of the heart while simultaneously reducing oxygen supply. For these reasons, cocaine use commonly causes chest pain and can even lead to heart attack in some cases.

Even one use of cocaine can result in a heart attack. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heart attack and irregular heartbeat are some of the most common problems associated with cocaine overdose. Stroke and seizures can also result from an overdose on this drug.

Other short-term health effects of cocaine may be less severe and include muscle tremors, nausea, and elevated body temperature. Cocaine abuse can also result in bizarre and potentially dangerous behavior over the short-term, because users may become violent or paranoid with high doses of the drug.

Long-Term Health Effects of Cocaine Abuse

In addition to heart problems, which can appear with just one use of cocaine, there are a number of health consequences that can arise with long-term cocaine use. Those who snort cocaine are likely to suffer from damage to the nose and respiratory system, which can result in problems like frequent runny noses, difficulty breathing, and loss of smell.

On the other hand, smoking cocaine brings its own consequences, such as asthma, pneumonia, problems with the respiratory system, and chronic cough, while injecting the drug is linked to skin infections, collapsed veins, and elevated risk of HIV and other infections that spread by blood.

A recent review of over 300 studies that evaluated the effects of cocaine on health found that there was increased risk of the following health conditions among crack cocaine users:

  • HIV
  • Hepatitis C
  • Sexually transmitted infections like syphilis and trichomoniasis
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Problems during pregnancy and childbirth, including poor fetal growth, placental abruption, and premature birth
  • Bronchitis
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Staph Infections
  • Anorexia
  • Insomnia

Reducing Risks with Treatment

Cocaine has the potential to be incredibly damaging for health, but treatment can help. With quality treatment, cocaine users can overcome the consequences, including health problems, that come along with this drug.

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