People often wonder how does cocaine affect the brain, and what are the possible cocaine effects on the brain, in both the long and short-term.
These topics are explored below, and answers to specific questions such as “does cocaine kill brain cells” are also detailed below.
Cocaine is a potent and addictive drug that can be snorted, injected or smoked. It’s commonly used as a recreational drug, but when people purchase cocaine on the streets, they don’t realize that what they’re using isn’t often pure cocaine.
Cocaine is typically cut with a variety of substances, from laundry detergent to other illegal drugs. This is done so that drug dealers can make more money from smaller amounts of actual cocaine.
When people use cocaine repeatedly, it can cause not only addiction but also other serious mental and physical problems and side effects.
Cocaine can be used in different ways. One of the most common ways people abuse this drug is by snorting it through the nose, but it can also be dissolved in water and injected directly into the bloodstream of the user. There is a processed form of cocaine called freebase which can be heated and smoked as well.
Cocaine has relatively short effects, so people will often binge on it, meaning they use it several times in a short period to maintain a high.
What does cocaine do the brain in the short-term?
As a stimulant, when someone uses cocaine the brain then begins releasing dopamine, which is a feel-good brain chemical that is responsible for a person feeling high or euphoric. The use of cocaine stops the dopamine that’s being produced from recycling, so large amounts build up in the brain, and that flood of dopamine changes how the brain communicates with itself and the rest of the body, thus the high.
In the short-term cocaine affects the brain by causing the euphoria and extreme happiness of the high and it also causes energy and mental alertness, as well as sensitivity to light and sound. Also possible when someone is on cocaine are irritability and paranoia.
It’s difficult to determine the exact ways how cocaine affects the brain in the short-term because it can vary so much depending on the individual.
For example, some people enjoy using cocaine recreationally because they feel like it makes them feel not only good but also able to achieve more, while other people find that it makes them act strangely or even violently.
The effects of cocaine become apparent very quickly after someone takes it, and they also end within a few minutes.
The exact level of potency of a high and the length of time the effects of cocaine are felt can vary depending on how someone uses the drug. For example, if someone injects or smokes cocaine they feel the effects more quickly and more powerfully, but for a shorter period of time.
Along with cocaine’s effects in the brain, there are other short-term health risks of using this drug as well. These health concerns can include nausea, raised blood pressure and body temperature, and a rapid heart rate.
How cocaine affects the brain in the short-term is only one area of concern. There are also things to think about when it comes to cocaine and the brain over the long-term as well.
The brain on cocaine in the long-term can lead to an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and cocaine binges can also contribute to severe paranoia, hallucinations, and mood disorders.
There can also be physical damage that occurs to the brain with the repeated use of the drug. For example, if the veins and arteries are damaged because of long-term cocaine use, it can restrict blood flow to the brain.
The extended and repeated use of cocaine can cause seizures, as well as associated seizure disorders.
As a person ages, they tend to experience a reduction in something called gray matter. Over time the loss of gray matter can cause natural complications related to aging, such as changes in memory and cognition.
However, in people who abuse cocaine, it can cause them to lose a significantly higher amount of gray matter at a more rapid pace than someone with no history of drug abuse.
There has also been research showing that the use of cocaine can cause something called autography, where the brain cells begin eating themselves in response to stress that occurs from the use of cocaine.
So, does cocaine kill brain cells? It is possible that cocaine can kill brain cells, as well as the other effects of the brain on cocaine.
Anytime someone is repeatedly exposing their brain to a toxic substance such as cocaine, there are going to be effects that are far-reaching.
If you or a loved one live with cocaine addiction or are using cocaine recreationally and want to stop, it’s time to seek professional help. The Recovery Village® provides care to those struggling with cocaine. Reach out to one of our knowledgeable representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.