Dangers of Snorting Cocaine
With so many new recreational drugs hitting the market each year, cocaine may seem like an “old time” drug, but its effects are no less damaging than before. The practice of snorting cocaine, (typically reserved for those with money to spend) has been around for decades on end.
The dangers associated with cocaine have earned the drug a Schedule I narcotics classification, which has remained unchanged since the inception of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, according to Princeton University. Cocaine’s effects on brain and body functions grows worse with time as physical structures throughout the body continue to deteriorate with ongoing use.
While the dangers of snorting cocaine pose the greatest risk to a person’s overall brain function, health problems and the ever-increasing risk of overdose are no less dire.
Cocaine works as a stimulant drug, speeding up central nervous system (CNS) processes. Its stimulant effects account for the feelings of euphoria, confidence and increased energy users experience when getting “high.”
In general, cocaine can be snorted, smoked or injected. The effects from snorting cocaine take longer to experience than the other two methods, but last the longest in terms of overall drug effects.
As it can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes before users experience cocaine’s effects when snorting, snorting carries the lowest potential for addiction of the three methods, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. That being said, cocaine ingested in any form remains one of the most addictive drugs on the market.
Brain Chemical Imbalances
Normally, the brain secretes neurotransmitter chemicals, such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin in response to what a person experiences throughout the day. The amount of chemicals secreted determines a person’s overall psychological state, cognitive abilities and motor functions.
Cocaine works as a psychoactive drug, triggering abnormally high levels of neurotransmitter secretions each time a person uses. Over time, brain chemical imbalances start to develop as brain cells lose their ability to function normally.
With continued use, a person will require increasingly larger doses of the drug to experience its effects as brain functions become more dependent on cocaine’s effects.
Cocaine’s affect on the heart has to do with its direct access to the body’s central nervous system. By speeding up CNS processes, snorting cocaine causes blood vessels throughout the body to constrict or become narrow. In turn, cocaine also causes an increase in heart rate, which speeds up blood circulation rates.
These combined effects greatly increase the risk of stroke as blood pressure levels continue to rise. The potential for stroke exists each time users snort cocaine regardless of whether it’s their first time using or their 50th time.
As a highly addictive drug, ongoing cocaine use will see a person’s brain tolerance levels continue to rise. As tolerance levels increase, more of the drug is needed to experience the same desired effects.
This process combined with increasing drug cravings drives users to snort large doses of cocaine in rapid succession. Under these conditions, the risk of overdose is exceptionally high. Overdose events can result in heart failure, convulsions, brain hemorrhage and even death.