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The Physical Effects of Cocaine: The High, Crash, & Aftermath

For some people, cocaine is a way to get high. They are so focused on the euphoria it can provide that they neglect to think about the serious physical implications that this drug can have on their bodies both in the short and long term.

What Are the Physical Effects of Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that is made from the leaves of the coca plant. It works by altering neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly dopamine, to produce a brief but intense euphoria. Due to its impact on dopamine production and reabsorption, cocaine abuse is notorious for causing a physical rollercoaster with highs, crashes, and long-lasting after-effects. Comprehending these stages is essential to understanding the physical toll cocaine has on the body.

What Does a Cocaine High Feel Like?

An intense and instantaneous euphoric "high" is a common feature of the initial stage of cocaine use. A cocaine high is marked by increased energy, increased awareness, and a sense of invincibility. The drug accomplishes this by preventing neurotransmitters like dopamine from being reabsorbed, which causes an accumulation of the neurotransmitters in the synapse between nerve cells.

As a result, users may feel more confident and pleasurable than before, and they frequently feel less hungry and more talkative. Physical signs of a cocaine high could include elevated blood pressure, dilated pupils, and an accelerated heartbeat. The typical cocaine high lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, which means that users have to look for the drug again to experience the desired effects.

Here is a simpler breakdown of what it’s like to be high on cocaine:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • More mental awareness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Possible hallucinations

The After-Effects of Cocaine

A cocaine crash refers to the comedown or withdrawal symptoms that occur after the initial high of cocaine wears off. This phase is characterized by a range of physical and psychological symptoms as the body and brain adjust to the absence of the drug.

The effects of a cocaine crash can vary from person to person and may include:

  • Fatigue and exhaustion: Cocaine is a stimulant that increases energy and alertness. When the drug wears off, users often experience extreme fatigue and may feel physically and mentally drained.
  • Depression and anxiety: Cocaine use can lead to an increase in neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain, contributing to feelings of pleasure and euphoria. The crash is associated with a significant drop in these neurotransmitter levels, leading to feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • Irritability and agitation: Users may become irritable and agitated during the crash phase. Mood swings and a general sense of discomfort are common.
  • Increased appetite: Cocaine is known to suppress appetite, and during the crash, individuals may experience an increase in hunger as the drug's effects wear off.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Cocaine can enhance focus and concentration, but during the crash, individuals may find it challenging to concentrate or stay focused on tasks.
  • Cravings: The crash phase often triggers strong cravings for more cocaine as the body and brain seek to alleviate the discomfort associated with withdrawal.
  • Paranoia: Some individuals may experience heightened levels of paranoia during the crash, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety and unease.
  • Sleep disturbances: Cocaine crash symptoms may also include disrupted sleep patterns, and individuals may have difficulty falling asleep or may experience restless sleep during the crash.

In some cases, cocaine users will continuously take the drug to avoid experiencing a crash, which further contributes to the development of dependence and addiction and increases the risk of overdose.

Long-Term Physical Effects of Cocaine Use

Along with some concerning mental health problems, the physical effects of cocaine can even be deadly if left untreated.

Some common long-term physical side effects of cocaine use include:

  • Addiction and dependence: Continued use of cocaine can lead to the development of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Dependence means that the body has adapted to the presence of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms may occur when the drug is not taken.
  • Cardiovascular issues: Cocaine use can have serious effects on the cardiovascular system. It may lead to increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and an elevated risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular complications.
  • Respiratory problems: Cocaine use can cause respiratory issues, including difficulty breathing and a chronic cough. Smoking crack cocaine, in particular, can lead to lung damage and respiratory disorders.
  • Neurological impairments: Chronic cocaine use can result in neurological impairments, affecting cognitive functions such as attention, memory, and decision-making. It may also contribute to an increased risk of seizures and other neurological disorders.
  • Psychiatric effects: Cocaine use is associated with a higher risk of mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, paranoia, and hallucinations. Long-term use can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or contribute to the development of new ones.
  • Sexual dysfunction: Cocaine use may lead to sexual dysfunction in both men and women. This can include issues with libido, erectile dysfunction in men, and menstrual irregularities in women.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Cocaine use can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract, leading to issues such as abdominal pain, nausea, and digestive problems.
  • Dental issues: Smoking crack cocaine can contribute to dental problems, including tooth decay and gum disease. This is often referred to as "crack mouth."
  • Social and legal consequences: Long-term cocaine use can have significant social and legal consequences. It may lead to strained relationships, loss of employment, financial problems, and legal issues.
  • Overdose: Cocaine use carries a risk of overdose, which can result in severe medical complications, including cardiac arrest, seizures, respiratory failure, and death.

The severity of cocaine’s long-term effects can vary depending on factors such as the frequency and amount of cocaine use, individual differences, and the presence of other substances. Seeking professional help through cocaine detox and addiction treatment is crucial for individuals struggling with cocaine dependence or addiction to address these long-term effects and work toward recovery.

Finding a Cocaine Rehab Near Me

If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine addiction, Faith in Recovery provides compassionate and evidence-based Christian addiction recovery programs. From medical detox to inpatient care, our Christian treatment centers offer a wide range of faith-based treatment options to ensure clients recover physically, mentally, and spiritually from substance use.

Call us today at 888-280-4763 or contact us online to learn more about our specialized cocaine rehab programs, designed to support individuals on their journey to recovery with a holistic and faith-centered approach.