Short-term effects of cocaine can be felt almost immediately after a single dose of the drug and may last for minutes to an hour. In small amounts, cocaine can produce a euphoric effect and make someone feel energetic, talkative, and mentally alert. Cocaine use can also cause feelings of restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic, and paranoia.
If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine, Vertava Health’s cocaine addiction treatment can help. Contact us at 844.470.0410 to learn more about the short-term effects of cocaine abuse and how we can help.
Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse
Possible physical short-term effects of cocaine include:
- Constricted blood vessels
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Decreased appetite
Large amounts of cocaine may intensify the desired effects of cocaine, but it can also cause bizarre, erratic, and sometimes violent behavior.
Potential Risks Of Cocaine Use
Whether cocaine is used for a short or extended period of time, its use is associated with potential health risks. Cocaine use may cause serious heart problems, including changes in heart rhythm and heart attack, even in healthy people.
Using large amounts of cocaine has the potential to cause:
- Abdominal pain and nausea
- Headaches, seizures, and stroke
In some cases, cocaine use can also result in sudden death. Sudden death from cocaine use can occur when taking the drug for the first time, usually resulting from cardiac arrest or seizures.
It is also common for people to mix cocaine with other substances, like alcohol. This combination can be dangerous because, as the two substances interact, they chemically transform into another substance called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene may increase the toxic effects of cocaine and alcohol on the heart.
Combining cocaine with heroin is also very dangerous. Individuals often take the two together to lessen the unwanted side effects of each drug. However, mixing these drugs can easily result in taking too large a dose of heroin without even realizing it.
As cocaine is eliminated from the body much faster than heroin, the mixture can lead to a heroin overdose, wherein an individual’s respiration slows to dangerous levels or stops entirely, resulting in death.
How Cocaine Affects the Brain
Cocaine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that disrupts normal communication pathways and floods the brain with excessive amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter (chemical) naturally found in the brain that is associated with pleasure, movement, and the brain’s reward system.
A buildup of dopamine causes the brain’s reward center to constantly be stimulated until the effects of the drug wear off. This is why people experience a burst of happiness directly after taking cocaine and then crave more of the drug once it wears off. Cocaine is particularly addictive because it alters the brain’s sense of reward and punishment.
In addition to affecting how the brain perceives reward, cocaine use can also affect the brain pathways that respond to stress. Research has shown that stress can contribute to cocaine relapse and that cocaine use disorders often co-occur with stress-related disorders.
The stress circuits of the brain are different from the brain’s reward center. However, research indicates that they may have overlapping functions. Animals who have been repeatedly exposed to cocaine were more likely to seek the drug in response to stress. The more the animals took the drug, the more stress affected this behavior.
Research also shows that cocaine use may elevate stress hormones and further increase sensitivity to the drug and associated behavioral cues. Chronic exposure to cocaine may also affect many other areas of the brain.
Withdrawing from cocaine can produce different symptoms, depending on the individual. The severity of the addiction to cocaine and how long it has been misused can also impact the withdrawal process.
Those who misuse cocaine quickly develop a tolerance to the drug. As tolerance develops, it will take larger and more frequent doses to produce the same effects a smaller dose once did.
Once someone has become tolerant of the drug, their body has become physically dependent. This means that their body and brain have become used to operating with a certain amount of the drug in their systems, and without it, they will not be able to function normally.
If, after developing a dependence on the drug, someone suddenly stops using, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. The severity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on the severity of the addiction. Someone who has been using large doses of cocaine for a long time will likely experience more uncomfortable withdrawal than someone who has only used smaller doses less frequently.
Possible withdrawal symptoms from cocaine include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Extreme fatigue
- Intense cravings for the drug
Discover Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Vertava Health
Treatment for cocaine addiction starts with detoxing from the drug. Detoxing from cocaine typically takes about a week. Breaking the chronic use cycle of this drug can be extremely difficult. During the first few days without cocaine, individuals suffering from cocaine addiction will experience intense cravings for the drug, which increases the risk of relapse.
To lessen the risk of relapse, entering a medically-assisted detox program in an inpatient treatment center can be helpful. Treatment facilities can provide the support individuals need to lead a drug-free life.