The Effects of Cocaine Addiction

Edited by Paul Alexander

Last updated November 22, 2018

Cocaine is a distilled extraction of specific active ingredients from the coca plant, found natively in the continent of South America. It has been documented to have been used by various historical cultures for meditation and religious ceremonies. Since developing a method of extracting the ingredient into non-plant form, it has been, unfortunately, abused and discovered to be highly addictive.

Many times, short term problems are looked to be solved by its use which includes an extra boost to energy, alertness, concentration, weight-loss efforts, mood alteration in addition to various other reasons. The unfortunate reality is that these effects and their desired positives are negated by the destructive nature of the substance coupled with its addictiveness.


Side Effects of Cocaine

With any drug, side effects vary based on disposition of a person’s physiology toward the substance itself. The side effects of cocaine use vary as well, of course, but tend to be quite a bit more serious than the side effects of typical over-the-counter drugs and even prescription drugs in many cases. They include:


  • Tremors
  • Muscle twitching
  • Increased acute paranoia
  • Feelings of vertigo
  • Blood Vessel Constriction
  • Pupil Dilation
  • Heart rate increase
  • Increase of blood pressure
  • A rise of body temperature
  • Sexual dysfunction


An overdose of cocaine has been shown to directly cause heart attacks in perfectly healthy individuals, even teenagers and can be as unpredictable as the non-life-threatening side effects. This risk is made more threatening when combined with the addictive nature of cocaine which tends to require a user to intake more cocaine with each successive use to achieve comparable previous effects.


Cocaine in the Brain

addiction treatment servicesOne of the most notable effects of cocaine when ingested, whether it’s through inhaling, injecting or otherwise, is the quickness to which it operates coupled with the release of dopamine in the user. Dopamine is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain associated with happiness and ‘reward’ for an action. When this release occurs coinciding with the use of cocaine, the foundation of addiction is formed. Simply put, a message is sent to your body; ‘to feel good, use more cocaine’. This addiction is largely chemical and reinforced by habitual use. Those with a predisposed ‘addictive personality’ are especially at risk because of how cocaine affects its user. Abuse is generally done in service to the addictive nature and diminishing returns of its use as the body develops tolerance toward its presence.

If you or someone you know might have an addiction to cocaine or other substance, please give our counselors a call at (866) 311-0003. Northbound has facilities in Seattle, St. Louis and Newport Beach staffed by experts and professionals prepared to facilitate a patient’s withdrawal and maintain sobriety from various controlled substances including cocaine.


Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.