Cocaine is a drug derived from the coca plant (Erythroxylon coca) that acts as a powerful stimulant on the body. Cocaine, known in its chemically pure form as cocaine hydrochloride, produces its effect on the brain by decreasing the rate at which dopamine is recycled in our brains’ reward system. This causes dopamine to stay in a person’s synapses, leading to the short-term effects that users seek, such as euphoria, increased energy, mental sharpness, and increased sensory sensitivity. These can last between 15-30 minutes.
Cocaine is recognized by the government as a Schedule II drug, meaning there is a high propensity for addiction after repeated exposure to the drug. It is one of the major drug epidemics in the country, with over five million reported users in 2020, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Despite this, less than 8 percent of people with a Substance Abuse Disorder seek help at a rehabilitation or detox facility, such as drug detox austin tx.
Given this epidemic, familiarity with the negative effects of frequent cocaine abuse can be vital in spreading information about the harms of cocaine abuse.
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The Short-term Effects
Given that cocaine acts as a stimulant, asides from the psychoactive effects of the drug, cocaine use can lead to increased blood pressure, increased body pressure, and a high heart rate, in the short term. Cocaine use can affect the cardiovascular, neurological, and digestive systems. It can put users at a risk for a variety of complications, such as
- Irregularities in heart rhythm
- Abdominal pain
Cocaine users often use alcohol at the same time. This can be a fatal reaction as the two produce a chemical that is toxic to the heart.
The Long-term Effects
Long-term cocaine use leads to an increased tolerance level. This can in turn create a cycle where users have to take increasing amounts of the drug to feel the same effect. This is one of the reasons why overdose, as people might take a fatal dose of the substance without realizing it. It is for this reason that detox is the first step in programs at treatment centers, like drug rehab austin.
Cocaine, in the long term, can affect the gastrointestinal system, causing ulcers and bleeds. It can also cause a deterioration of the cardiovascular system. Many long-term users see an increase in the incidence of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Long-term cocaine use has a degenerative effect on our cognitive and immune systems. Long-term use has been linked to the onset of diseases like Parkinsons and decreased mental function. Cocaine use also inhibits our body’s ability to fight infections, leading to increase instances of illness.
Cocaine Abuse is an epidemic. It is a harmful substance, that when abused, creates risk in the short term and, in the long term, can be fatal. However, there is help available. Treatment centers are becoming more readily available and affordable. If the traditional treatment route is unappealing then community sober homes, like sober living Austin, offer a more holistic alternative.