Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

long term effects of cocaine use

Cocaine use often starts off as an innocent party drug to ramp up energy, mood, and confidence. But because it is so addicting, cocaine use can quickly turn on you. In fact, cocaine abuse and addiction can be devastating, causing your health and your life to crash and burn. Let’s delve into the long-term effects of cocaine use.

How Cocaine Affects the Brain

Cocaine use affects the brain’s reward system via the drug’s dopamine effects. The desired effects include more energy, heightened focus, euphoria, less need to sleep, and a boost in confidence. The brain records these as pleasant effects that should be repeated, which sets the table for addiction.

With continued cocaine use, the brain starts to adapt to the dopamine. This can result in the brain’s reward pathways becoming less receptive to natural sources of pleasure. The person will start to choose cocaine over past sources of pleasure, such as relationships, food, or sex. Only the cocaine provides them pleasure at this point.

What is Cocaine Sensitization?

While the brain is no longer able to receive pleasure from the prior sources, something else is occurring. Chronic cocaine abuse leads to something called sensitization. This means that the drug begins to turn on the person by causing ill effects.

Examples of these might include anxiety, low mood, stress, restlessness, and panic attacks. During the early days of cocaine use, it may have taken a high dosage to start feeling these adverse effects. Later in the addiction, these negative symptoms will emerge with less and less cocaine needed to trigger them.

How Cocaine is Used

Cocaine is a white powdery stimulant with origins from the coca plant. There are three main delivery methods for using cocaine. These include:

  • Snorting cocaine. The person creates “lines” of coke on a surface and then inhales or snorts the powder directly into the nose.
  • Smoking crack cocaine. Crack is a crystal pellet that is smoked through a glass pipe and the vapor then inhaled into the lungs.
  • Injection. The powdered cocaine is dissolved in water and then injected into the bloodstream.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

When cocaine is consumed over a period of weeks or months, tolerance begins to increase. This causes the person to use more and more of the drug to get the desired effect. Withdrawal symptoms that emerge when the drug wears off are signs of cocaine dependence.

Some signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Frequent mood swings.
  • Decline in work performance.
  • Exhaustion
  • Weight loss.
  • Muscle tics.
  • Cocaine cravings.
  • Insomnia
  • Risky behaviors.
  • Nosebleeds
  • Money problems.
  • Mental health symptoms, like anxiety, paranoia, or depression.

About Cocaine-Induced Psychosis

One of the effects of cocaine abuse is cocaine-induced psychosis. This refers to a mental state that develops while someone is under the influence of cocaine. This can be spurred by bingeing on cocaine and possibly causing a dopamine imbalance. While the psychosis is transient and will subside within a day or two after cocaine use, in some cases, it may linger.

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Symptoms of cocaine-induced psychosis include:

  • Loss of touch with reality.
  • Extreme paranoia.
  • Auditory hallucinations.
  • Visual hallucinations.
  • Tactile hallucinations.
  • Delusions
  • Agitation

Heavy cocaine use can disrupt brain functioning and trigger a state of psychosis.

Long-term Health Effects of Cocaine Use

The long-term effects of cocaine abuse are extensive and diverse. Cocaine use affects both physical and psychological health. Consider some of the long-term health effects of cocaine abuse:

Related to how the cocaine is administered:

  • Chronic nosebleeds.
  • Loss of smell.
  • Damage to the nasal septum.
  • Lung damage (crack).
  • Higher risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis (injection).

Organ damage:

  • Damage to the gut.
  • Severe weight loss.
  • Malnourishment
  • Heart damage
  • Myocarditis
  • Aortic rupture.

Neurological damage:

  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Bleeding in the brain.
  • Memory problems.
  • Increased risk of stroke.
  • Increased risk of seizure.
  • Diminished motor skills.
  • Reduced impulse control.

How to Break Free From Cocaine

When you are ready to stop using cocaine, you’ll need treatment for cocaine abuse or addiction. After you complete the intake interview and assessment, a custom treatment plan is created that includes these elements:

  • Detox. Cocaine recovery begins with a medical detox and withdrawal process. The detox team pays close attention to the withdrawal symptoms as they emerge, and offers treatments to reduce discomfort. Cocaine detox takes about one week.
  • Psychotherapy. Talk therapy sessions are at the center of addiction treatment. Using therapies like CBT or DBT, a therapist can help you make the needed changes in behaviors. For instance, your thoughts are telling you that you cannot enjoy an event or finish a project without cocaine. CBT shows you how to reshape that messaging. Instead of reaching for cocaine, you will go out for a run or catch a yoga class.
  • Group therapy. Group sessions provide a chance to discuss recovery topics with peers in recovery. An addiction counselor provides the group with topics and facilitates the chat.
  • Family therapy. Because addiction impacts the whole family, these sessions can provide guidance and healing for all family members. Family members are taught how to support their loved one while also protecting themselves via boundaries.
  • 12-step program. The 12-step program is often included in the rehab program and provides a roadmap for the recovery journey. After treatment is completed, they are encouraged to join a local N.A. or A.A. group for continued support.
  • Holistic methods. These are techniques that help reduce stress and induce a calm state of mind. These are very helpful both during rehab and throughout the recovery journey. They might include yoga, mindfulness, massage, and keeping a journal.
  • Classes. You are taught how cocaine affects the brain and leads to addiction. Also, you will learn new coping skills and form a relapse prevention plan.

Golf Drug Rehab Comprehensive Cocaine Addiction Recovery Program

Golf Drug Rehab can assist you in quitting cocaine once and for all. Our exclusive recovery program is designed for those who desire effective addiction treatment in a luxury setting. If you are concerned about the long-term effects of cocaine use, call us today at (877) 958-5320.

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