Cocaine Effects on the Body and Mental Health
31 October, 2023
Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that can have devastating effects on the body. It is known for its stimulating and euphoric effects that increase the levels of alertness and energy. It can make a person do things confidently that they would not normally do. However, it can be risky. Additionally, the cocaine effects can make the heart beat faster and increase the body temperature. In large amounts, it can trigger anxiety and paranoia.
Powerful stimulants like cocaine have severe effects on the body. Their use is heavily regulated due to their negative consequences when abused. Cocaine is one of the illegal substances in Australia, except for certain medical uses. The possession and selling of the drug is subject to legal penalties. In this article, we will explore the dangers of cocaine on physical and mental health. Moreover, knowing the treatment methods is vital in treating those who are affected by the substance.
Cocaine Effects on the Body
Cocaine is a stimulant drug derived from the coca plant. It takes several forms, and the route of administration can be taken orally, smoked, or snorted. The effects of cocaine can be felt almost instantly and last for a few minutes to hours, depending on the form used. Some cocaine effects on the body include increased alertness, heart rate, and blood pressure.
The short-term effects of the drug include loss of appetite, insomnia, and restlessness. It can also cause other physical discomfort, such as nausea, headaches, muscle tremors, and weakness. In long-term use, it puts immense strain on the cardiovascular system and can lead to serious health complications. Hence, it increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, seizure, and respiratory distress.
Moreover, the prolonged use of cocaine can damage the blood vessels, leading to conditions like aortic dissection or aneurysm. This leads to decreased oxygen supply and potential lung damage. It also increases the risk of respiratory infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, lung cancer, and permanent damage to the nasal septum. Overall, cocaine not only affects the reward system of the brain but also poses several health risks.
Early Signs of Substance Abuse
- Changes in mood or behaviour, such as increased irritability, aggression or mood swings.
- Physical signs like dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, unexplained weight loss or gain, and neglecting personal grooming habits.
- Muscle twitches, slurred speech, or impaired coordination.
- Frequent nosebleeds or runny nose due to snorting.
- Difficulty swallowing, hoarse voice, or sinus inflammation.
- Sudden changes in social circles or withdrawal from friends and family.
- Neglecting responsibilities and obligations, such as missing work.
- Memory loss and poor decision-making.
- Lack of focus and poor impulse control.
- Involvement in misdemeanour or illegal activities.
- Health issues like frequent illness, absences, or unexplained injuries.
Cocaine Effects on Mental Health
The cocaine effects also impact mental health. It can lead to a range of psychological disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Firstly, the stimulant properties affect the brain, causing an intense feeling of euphoria and pleasure. However, over time, the brain becomes desensitised to these effects. As a result, it leads to a need for higher doses to achieve the same high.
The cycle of increasing drug use can lead to the development of anxiety as individuals become reliant on the effects of cocaine use to alleviate feelings of distress or unease. Similarly, the crash that follows can trigger depression, as the brain struggles to regulate mood without the influence of the drug.
Secondly, chronic cocaine use can lead to long-term changes in the brain structure and function. The drug affects neurotransmitters such as the levels of dopamine and serotonin, which are crucial for regulating mood and emotions. Lastly, cocaine increases the risk of developing psychosis. This refers to a loss of touch with reality. The drug can also exacerbate existing mental health conditions like schizophrenia.
Other Short-term and Long-term Consequences
The other short-term consequences of cocaine include agitation and hypersensitivity. It may cause the person to engage in risky behaviour, such as drug driving. In some cases, a person may experience hallucinations or delusions. It also increases cravings for cocaine, which starts a cycle of abuse.
Meanwhile, the long-term negative effects of the drug include higher sex drives or sexual dysfunction. Chronic cocaine users may engage in unsafe sexual behaviour, increasing the risk of HIV, AIDS, and other infectious diseases. Additionally, heavy users may mix cocaine with alcohol. The combined effects of alcohol can be detrimental to health and lead to accidents.
Possible Methods to Treat Cocaine Effects
Various treatments and support strategies can help individuals struggling with cocaine addiction. Treatment often starts with detoxification, which is the process of stopping drug use. This allows the body to rid itself of any chemicals or toxins accumulated while using the drug. Detox can be done in a hospital setting to monitor complications that may arise during withdrawal.
Another method to treat cocaine effects is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). These medicines help reduce intense cravings for cocaine use. It can help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. However, it may not work for everybody. Thus, health professionals must work closely with the patient to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
Additionally, behavioural therapy can also help individuals with substance use disorders. It focuses on modifying an individual’s thoughts and attitudes related to drug use. Likewise, it identifies the triggers and develops better coping mechanisms. Understanding these harmful effects is crucial in raising awareness and preventing further cocaine use. Nevertheless, the road to recovery is often long-term and requires persistence and dedication.
Support System to Avoid Relapse
For individuals in rehabilitation, having a strong support system is essential. Friends and family can provide emotional and practical help as they overcome the challenges of addiction. Furthermore, joining support groups can provide individuals with a safe and supportive environment to share their experiences and receive guidance without the fear of judgment.
On the other hand, counselling can help individuals address underlying emotional issues or trauma that may have contributed to drug use. Having a strong support system can help individuals remain focused on their goals and avoid relapse. Similarly, it helps individuals develop healthier behaviours and create a positive environment for recovery.
Cocaine is a powerful and dangerous drug that can have severe consequences. The misuse of the drug affects the physical, mental and psychological well-being of a person. Short-term cocaine effects include irregular heartbeat, respiratory failure, and changes in mood. It can cause agitation, irritability, and risky behaviours. On the other hand, the long-term effects include permanent brain damage, heart disease, kidney failure, and sexual dysfunction. Moreover, cocaine may lead to depressive disorders, anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis.
It is crucial to identify the early signs of substance abuse to prevent the further use of cocaine. In addition, drug testing through urine or blood can help detect cocaine use. Various strategies can help individuals struggling with addiction. The common treatments are detoxification, medication, and behavioural therapy. Likewise, it is vital to have a strong support system to prevent relapse. With proper care and support, individuals can recover from substance abuse disorders and lead healthy lives.