Risks and Dangers of Cocaine
Cocaine is a drug that people frequently use recreationally, and because of how prevalent its use is, there’s a scary misconception that it’s somehow not dangerous. This isn’t true, and cocaine has risks and dangers that can ultimately destroy someone’s life, or result in premature death.
The following is an overview of what cocaine is and the dangers of cocaine.
Cocaine can be used by snorting it through the nose, as well as by injection or by smoking it or inhaling the fumes.
Regardless of how it’s used, when someone takes cocaine, it increases the level of available dopamine in their brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that controls pleasure, so when there are artificially high levels of it in the brain, it creates the euphoric high and the rush of energy associated with the use of cocaine.
Unfortunately, since this is artificial after someone experiences the high of cocaine they will also have a crash as their brain tries to readjust and symptoms of this can include things like depression and anxiety.
The effects of cocaine start within a few seconds when it’s smoked or injected, and if someone snorts it, the effects are usually felt within a few minutes. When cocaine is snorted the high may last for around 15 to 30 minutes, and it’s even shorter when it’s smoked or injected.
In general, a significant danger of cocaine is an addiction.
When someone repeatedly uses cocaine, it alters their brain’s reward circuit and system, and that’s what triggers the cycle of addiction. People may also become physically dependent on cocaine, meaning that if they try to stop using it suddenly, they will go through withdrawal with symptoms like fatigue and depression, insomnia, and feelings of mental fogginess.
It’s not just addiction and dependence that are cocaine dangers to be aware of, however.
Short-term effects of cocaine include hypersensitivity to stimuli, irritability and in some users, paranoia. When cocaine is used in large doses, it can cause something called cocaine psychosis. During cocaine psychosis, which can last for several hours, a person may exhibit odd, paranoid, delusional, violent or dangerous behaviors.
Physical effects of cocaine use in the short-term can include high blood pressure and body temperature, a rapid heartbeat, and tremors.
It’s also possible to overdose on cocaine, and the risk of an overdose is especially high when cocaine is mixed with other drugs at the same time, such as opioids or alcohol.
When someone overdoses on cocaine, they may experience an irregular heart rhythm, seizures, strokes or sudden heart attacks.
If a person experiences a stroke or heart attack because of a cocaine overdose, it can be difficult to treat, and it may lead to brain damage, organ damage or death.
It’s not just the general cocaine dangers to be aware of. There are even more dangers possible depending specifically on how the drug is used.
For example, if you smoke crack cocaine it can put you at higher risks of respiratory problems and certain kinds of cancer. Injecting cocaine can mean that you’re more likely to get bloodborne diseases.
Cocaine is almost never pure when it’s sold on the streets, and it’s mixed or cut with a variety of different substances. These substances can include things like laundry detergent or sugar, all the way to dangerous chemicals, animal dewormers, and other drugs.
This poses a whole other level of risk to people who use cocaine.
For example, even fairly harmful additives in cocaine can build up in the arteries and lead to infections and blockages. The more dangerous substances can be highly toxic, and other drugs mixed with cocaine can increase the chances of something like an overdose occurring.
The risks and dangers of cocaine are incredibly serious, and this should never be looked at as a drug that can “just” be used recreationally.
Some of the many dangers of cocaine can include addiction, dependence, sudden stroke or heart attack or an overdose. Also possible are blockages in the arteries, and infections because the additives that cocaine is so typically cut with before being sold on the streets.
Have more questions about Cocaine abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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