Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine is an addictive stimulant which has wide-ranging effects on multiple systems in the body. In addition to the damaging effects of cocaine addiction, cocaine can impact the brain and nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, and mental health among other basic functions.

Cocaine effect on the body

Cocaine, or coke, works by stimulating the speed and activity of the central nervous system. It is a powerful but short-acting drug, so the characteristic high lasts only a few minutes to an hour. During this time, the body is in a state of increased alertness and activity. A person using cocaine might feel a mild state of euphoria or burst of energy due to the effects of the drug on the nervous system and the increase in dopamine released.

Physically, cocaine has several effects including dilated pupils, increased body temperature and blood pressure, tremors, and faster or irregular heartbeat. These physical effects make users susceptible to medical emergencies such as stroke, seizures, or ruptured arteries. Over time, these effects weaken vital systems in the body, resulting in dangerous long-term health effects. Many of these effects are the result of the method of use.

Long-term effects of cocaine on the nervous system

Both short and long-term cocaine use can result in neurological complications. However, these risks are compounded when cocaine is used over long periods of time. Some potential long-term effects of cocaine on the nervous system include:

  • Brain bleeds as a result of damage to blood vessels in the brain and nervous system
  • Development of Parkinson’s Disease or seizures
  • Impaired neurological functions including memory, attention, decision-making, psychomotor ability, and impulse control

Long-term effects of cocaine on the cardiovascular system

The stimulating effect cocaine has on the nervous system puts a strain on basic cardiovascular function. Over time, this can increase a person's risk of several long-term cardiovascular problems. These include:

  • Heart muscle inflammation
  • Chest pain
  • Aortic ruptures
  • Arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Arteriosclerosis, or thickened blood vessels
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Reduced ability of the heart to contract
  • Collapsed veins at injection sites

Long-term effects of cocaine on the respiratory system

Respiratory problems can develop due to habitual smoking or snorting of cocaine or crack cocaine. The effects on the lungs are immediate, but continued use increases the risk of serious respiratory damage. These long-term effects include:

  • Worsened asthma symptoms
  • Chronic coughing
  • Pneumonia
  • Respiratory distress
  • Pulmonary edema, or fluid in the lungs
  • Lung tumors
  • Eosinophilic pneumonitis, also known as crack lung
  • Wheezing
  • Black sputum
Long-term effects of cocaine on the gastrointestinal system

Cocaine use limits blood flow to the gastrointestinal system, which can lead to ulcers and other gastrointestinal complications. Regular cocaine users also lose their appetite, which can have detrimental effects as well. These are the potential effects of cocaine on the gastrointestinal system:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Ulcers
  • Ischemic colitis
  • Chronic weight loss
  • Malnourishment
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bowel tissue death
  • Bowel obstructions
  • Liver and kidney damage
Long-term psychological effects of cocaine use

Like any addiction, cocaine can be particularly detrimental to mental health. These psychological effects can persist even after cocaine use is discontinued. They include:

  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Sexual dysfunction including infertility
  • Psychosis
  • Delusions and hallucinations
Signs and symptoms of cocaine abuse

Preventing these chronic health and psychological problems requires first acknowledging and then treating problematic drug use. Cocaine abuse signs can start off as relatively minor and then escalate to become major life-altering problems. Signs of cocaine abuse may include:

  • Bizarre behavior or altered mood
  • Increased time obtaining, using, or recovering from cocaine use
  • Inability to meet social or professional obligations
  • Social isolation caused by drug use
  • Continued cocaine use despite detrimental effects
  • Financial problems caused by drug use
  • Legal issues brought on by cocaine use

These signs may be apparent to the individual abusing cocaine and those around them. It’s important not to ignore these red flags since time is essential in drug abuse treatment. The sooner cocaine abuse is uncovered, the easier it will be to treat and recover from. Early treatment can also prevent detrimental long-term effects.

Cocaine Abuse Treatment At Riverwalk Ranch
A Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area Addiction Treatment Center

At Riverwalk Ranch, we treat cocaine abuse and addiction as part of our extensive addiction treatment services. We are located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where our professionals use only empirically-supported treatments to help you safely and comfortably begin your journey toward recovery. Our facilities provide a comfortable safe haven to detox and treat cocaine abuse, surrounded by medical professionals, addiction specialists, and other like-minded individuals all working toward a healthier drug-free life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from cocaine abuse and addiction, don’t hesitate to contact our addiction treatment center today at (877) 863-3869. Whether Texas is your home or you’re looking for a fresh start in new surroundings, Riverwalk Ranch can provide a therapeutic and supportive home for you. Everyone deserves a happy and healthy life free from addiction, and we are committed to helping you overcome cocaine abuse in order to get you there.

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