Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. Once having tried cocaine, an individual cannot predict or control the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug.
Cocaine is a very deadly, addictive drug with a number of unpleasant side effects, cocaine abuse and the resulting cocaine effects can range from irritating to fatal. Cocaine affects the body in many dangerous ways, putting your body at risk for serious problems related to these cocaine effects. Cocaine effects can be divided into two groups: short-term and long-term cocaine effects.
The Short Term Effects of Cocaine Use
Short-term cocaine effects appear almost immediately after a single use. Short-term cocaine effects can cause serious bodily damage and, in some cases, lead to death, which is often a result of cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory arrest. Users will experience the following short-term cocaine effects:
- Mental alertness
- Dilated pupils
- Constricted vessels
- Decreased appetite
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased temperature
- Increased heart rate
- Increased energy
Some cocaine effects seem fun, drawing many first-time users into cocaine use. For example, increased energy and the accompanying quick high will keep you up longer and can increase your endurance in many physical activities.
The Long Term Effects of Cocaine Use
As cocaine abuse continues and tolerance builds, users begin to experience long-term cocaine effects. Cocaine is a highly addicting drug, which can lead to enormous medical complications, including heart disease, respiratory failure, strokes, seizures and various gastrointestinal complications. Other physical effects are convulsions, nausea, blurred vision, chest pain, fever, muscle spasms and coma, as well as the following:
- Mood Disturbances
- Auditory Hallucinations
Cocaine effects are not just physical and emotional; cocaine can also affect your social and family life, causing you to lie to others about the use of cocaine. Cocaine addicts also lie to themselves about becoming addicted, stealing to support the expensive cocaine habit. Absenteeism at work and school can also become a problem, endangering the future for cocaine addicts.
Smoking vs Injection or Snorting
There is great risk whether cocaine is ingested by inhalation (snorting), injection, or smoking. It appears that compulsive cocaine use may develop even more rapidly if the substance is smoked rather than snorted. Smoking allows extremely high doses of cocaine to reach the brain very quickly and brings an intense and immediate high. The injecting drug user is at risk for transmitting or acquiring HIV infection/AIDS if needles or other injection equipment are shared.
The Two Different Forms of Cocaine
- White crystalline powder
- “Crack” or “rock” cocaine is an off-white chunky material.
White Crystalline Powder Cocaine
Powder cocaine is generally snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Snorting is the process of inhaling cocaine powder through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Injecting is the act of using a needle to release the drug directly into the bloodstream.
“Crack” or “Rock” Cocaine
“Crack” or “rock” cocaine is an off-white chunky material that is generally s moked and involves inhaling cocaine vapor or smoke into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream is as rapid as by injection.
“Crack” is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking. Rather than requiring the more volatile method of processing cocaine using ether, crack cocaine is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus producing a form of cocaine that can be smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked (heated), presumably from the sodium bicarbonate.
The effects of Crack are similar to those of Cocaine, although since Crack is smoked, additional risks exist. General effects include constricted blood vessels and increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, and with long term use, violence and paranoia are noted. Additional risks of smoking crack include respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, chest pains, lung trauma and bleeding. As with cocaine, crack is highly addictive. Evidence shows that when cocaine and crack are smoked (as opposed to other methods), there is increased risk of compulsive cocaine-seeking behavior.
Cocaine addiction can occur very quickly and be very difficult to break. Studies performed on laboratory animals addicted to cocaine have shown, animals will press a bar over 10,000 times for just one single injection of cocaine. Test animals also choose cocaine over food and water, taking cocaine even when scientists punished the behavior. To prevent them from taking toxic or even lethal doses, scientists had to limit their test subjects’ access to cocaine.