15 Cocaine Side Effects
As one of the most addictive drugs of all, once a person starts using cocaine, the ability to control dosage amounts and frequency of use grows progressively weaker with time. Cocaine side effects target the brain’s dopamine cell receptors, releasing large quantities of dopamine into the central nervous system. The resulting feelings of mental alertness, euphoria and increased energy create their own reinforcing effects on the body and the mind.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine produces a short-term high that ranges anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. This short duration time combined with ongoing cocaine side effects makes addiction all the more likely.
While each person’s body may react differently, the 15 most common cocaine side effects to consider include:
Short-Term Cocaine Side Effects
1. Physical Changes
As a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drug, cocaine speeds up most every process in the body. Physical changes happen as soon as cocaine enters the system, some of which include:
- Dilated pupils
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Blood smalls constrict
- Body temperature rises
2. Adverse Reactions
Some people experience adverse cocaine side effects as of the first dose. Adverse reactions include:
- Muscle twitches
3. Violent Behavior
As users often try to intensify cocaine’s “high” effects, large amounts are often consumed in short periods of time. Violent, erratic and oftentimes bizarre behavior can result from ingesting large doses.
4. Neurological Effects
Any one dose of cocaine can cause adverse neurological effects, such as headaches, strokes, seizures and even coma.
5. Digestive Problems
Cocaine’s stimulant effects on the digestive system can bring on nausea as well as severe abdominal cramping.
Long-Term Cocaine Side Effects
6. Binge Patterns
Cocaine’s short-term “high” effect can easily drive users to take multiple doses in an attempt to prolong the drug’s effect. As tolerance levels tend to rise quickly, each successive dosage amount grows larger and larger.
For some people, adverse cocaine side effects become more intense the longer a person uses. A person may start to experience worsening symptoms of extreme anxiety, convulsions and vertigo or a distorted sense of balance whenever using cocaine.
8. Psychological Distress
With continued use, a person’s psychological health becomes compromised to the point where he or she experiences feelings of paranoia and panic attacks on a regular basis.
9. Rising Tolerance Levels
For as long as a person uses cocaine, tolerance levels continue to rise. This side effect in particular poses the greatest risk for addiction.
As brain functions deteriorate from ongoing cocaine use, a person may start to develop psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and losing touch with reality.
Withdrawal-Based Cocaine Side Effects
At the end of a cocaine binge or when a person tries to stop using, users “crash,” which usually entails a long period of sleep that lasts a day or more, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
12. Strong Drug Cravings
Strong cravings – both physical and psychological- for more cocaine often occur either before or after a person crashes.
After so many weeks or months of using, brain chemical levels remain in an imbalanced state. Feelings of depression persist no matter how much cocaine a person consumes.
Signs of fatigue start to develop as cocaine side effects essentially “burn out” brain and body processes.
15. Suicidal Thoughts & Actions
With long-term use, depression symptoms can become so severe as to drive a person to contemplate and even attempt suicide.