How Does Cocaine Damage The Body?

Sniffing cocaine, often referred to as ‘snorting’, is a method of ingestion in which a person inhales a fine powder form of the drug through the nose. One of the more well-known effects of snorting cocaine is damage to the nose and nasal cavity which leads to loss of smell and nose bleeds. In some acute cases of extended or heavy use, individuals may develop septal perforation, a term describing a hole in the septum.

When sniffed, cocaine affects a very sensitive network of blood vessels. Cocaine itself causes blood vessel restriction, one of the general effects that also has risks associated with heart attacks. Blood vessels deliver oxygen throughout the body so the restriction of them results in less oxygen being delivered to the nose, in effect suffocating the tissue in the septum itself. With repeated use, the tissues themselves actual die. Once the tissues die, the cartilage underneath those tissues is already on the path to becoming permanently damaged. If the cartilage dies, the nose itself can actually collapse.

Identifying Some of the Short-term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

The lead up to this admittedly graphic description is the end of a path lined with a multitude of signs and symptoms which can be warning signs of the imminent permanent damage. These effects include the most well known tell-tale signs of cocaine addiction and abuse like nosebleeds and the appearance of having allergies. Some of the common short-term effects of cocaine use and abuse include:

  • Anger
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hostility
  • Depression
  • Appetite loss
  • Restlessness
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature

Many people experience symptoms of psychosis when they use cocaine. These symptoms might include hallucinations and paranoid thinking. Many individuals begin to feel as if their skin is crawling or that there are insects crawling just beneath the skin. Some people begin to behave strangely, becoming extremely active, sometimes even violent. Irritability is also a common immediate effect of cocaine use. Some people suffer from disturbed and disrupted sleeping patterns as a result of cocaine use. They may have trouble falling or staying asleep. Some may sleep excessively as the initial effects of the cocaine wear off, also known as the “coming down” period.

In some cases, the immediate effects of cocaine may be extreme, intense, and even deadly for users. Cocaine is a very powerful drug; its impact can change the lives of those who use it, even after just one or two uses. Many people suffer from convulsions and seizures as a result of cocaine use. Fatality is also a possible result of cocaine abuse. So, needless to say, cocaine use is not only illegal but extremely dangerous. Still, people all over the country are using this substance.

One may wonder why those who use cocaine once or twice would continue to do so, given the possibility of long-term bodily damage and even death. But, this drug is highly addictive. Using it results in intense euphoria, which is a pleasurable and desirable feeling. This euphoria is what most people wish to experience when using cocaine. It’s often referred to as a “high” and it usually lasts for about 15 minutes to a half hour. When the high wears off and individuals begin to come down from the drug, they are left feeling very uncomfortable and depressed. They may begin to feel abnormal and believe that cocaine use will make them feel better.

As a result of these effects, many people resort to using cocaine again. This often leads to repeated use of the drug and, eventually, people may become entirely dependent on the substance. This dependence often leads to full-blown addiction, which is life-altering and can cause many complications down the road. The long-term effects of using cocaine, nose damage included, are certainly serious. Some of them are permanent and irreversible.

 

Common Long-term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Some of the effects of repeated use of cocaine abuse can change people’s lives forever. So, it’s important to be aware of these effects if you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine abuse. Here are some of the things a person may experience if he or she continuously uses cocaine:

  • Irritability
  • Moodiness
  • Weight loss
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • High blood pressure
  • Recurring headaches
  • Problems related to reproduction
  • Inability to stop using cocaine

How Cocaine Damages Your Body

Cocaine use is very harmful to the entire body of a person who uses the drug. Nearly every area, including the nose, throat, bowels, heart, and brain, is impacted by repeated cocaine use. People who suffer from cocaine addictions might feel the effects of this problem in many different ways. Some of these effects may be difficult to treat and may continue to affect people’s lives, even after the individuals have successfully gone through detox and treatment for substance abuse.

Nose, Throat, and Mouth

Cocaine-related nose damage can include nasal congestion as a result of the inflammation of the affected tissues, nasal discharge (rhinorrhea) because of deteriorating tissues, and otherwise seemingly natural problems that people who don’t use cocaine might experience, such as sinus infections. When a person uses cocaine, nose damage may also include major changes to the nasal structure, resulting in a collapse of the structure. This can cause breathing problems, making it harder for individuals to breathe. In some cases, cocaine use can damage the upper area of the mouth. Cocaine can also affect the throat, causing individuals to feel a strange sensation after use.

The Cardiovascular System

Cocaine use can cause permanent damage to the blood vessels within the heart. Some users may experience a heart attack as a result of cocaine abuse. Abnormal heart rate is also a possible effect of cocaine use. Many people experience the death of heart muscle, as well.

The Brain

In some situations, people may suffer a stroke as a result of cocaine use. Aneurysms can also occur. Blood vessels in the brain can be damaged and cognitive functions may be disturbed because of drug use. Cocaine use can even result in the shrinking of the brain.

Cocaine Rehab in Orange County

Normally when the body is injured, it is a single incident and the body immediately goes into healing to repair the damage. Each time cocaine is used, the body is injured without any significant healing time between use. So, the injuries continue to get worse without any chance to heal.

One of the best medical ways to counter the damage and effects of cocaine use is to stop using the drug entirely and allow the nose to heal itself. The problem with this process is that cocaine is a chemically addictive drug to the user. Even if the individual is aware of these physically deforming effects, including the high likelihood of the collapse of the nose cartilage which gives shape to the nose, a cocaine addict will often continue to use the drug. As the addiction becomes stronger due to increased tolerance to the desired effect of its use, this deterioration accelerates.

But, Northbound Treatment Services is here to help addicts break free from the cycle of addiction that leads not only to nose damage but damage to their bodies and even their ability to live a fulfilling life. Our Newport Beach rehab clinic is ready to help end cocaine addiction for you or a loved one. To end that problem with cocaine abuse, please call (855) 858-6803 to speak to a counselor about treatment today.

References:

https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/cocaine/effects-of-cocaine.html

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/cocaine-treatment/long-term-side-effects-of-abuse

http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/cocaine.asp

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use

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.

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