Physical Effects of Cocaine
The effects of cocaine are different for everyone. It largely depends on the user’s health, weight and size, as well as whether they are used to taking cocaine, whether other drugs are still in their system, and, most importantly, the amount of cocaine they take. With that said, any level of drug use is unsafe. Using any drug poses risk; after all, even medications can have adverse side effects.
Cocaine causes an intensive, momentary high that is then followed by reverse effects, such as deep depression, intense cravings for more cocaine and high irritability. People who take cocaine frequently do not sleep or eat properly. Frequent cocaine users may experience the negative effects of cocaine when they are not even taking the drug.
Regardless of how much, or how often, cocaine is taken, the drug greatly increases the user’s risk of a stroke, heart attack, breathing (respiratory) failure, all of which can lead to sudden death.
Low to Moderate Doses
The effects of taking cocaine can last for a couple of minutes to a few hours. It depends on how the cocaine is taken, and how much. The quicker the drug is absorbed into the body, the more intense the high will be, as well as the shorter the duration. For example, the effects from smoking cocaine are quite quick but may only last up to 10 minutes. On the other hand, snorting cocaine can take a while until the effects kick in but can last up to 30 minutes.
Once the initial ‘rush’ of the cocaine has started to wear off, the user might experience what is known as a ‘crash’ or ‘comedown’.
Some of the effects that can be experienced after taking low to moderate doses of cocaine include:
- Immediate ‘rush’ or feelings of euphoria
- Increased sense of wellbeing
- Feelings of invincibility or strength
- Increased talkativeness
- More energy
- Quiet contemplation
- Increased confidence
- Feelings of greater mental capacity
- Increased libido, or sex drive
- Panic, agitation or anxiety
- Aggressive behaviour or unpredictable violence
- Feeling more alive/awake, and less need for sleep
- Increased performance (on simple tasks)
- Dilated pupils
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased body temperature
- Dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
- Indifference to pain
- Localised pain relief
Higher doses of cocaine can lead to overdose, which means that person has taken more cocaine than their body can handle. The risk of overdose is increased when the cocaine’s purity or strength is unknown, which it often is. Injecting cocaine increases the chances of overdose because of the large amounts of cocaine entering the blood stream and quickly making its way to the brain.
Some of the symptoms of taking higher doses of cocaine include:
- Sleep disorders
- Muscle twitches
- Vomiting and nausea
- Weak and rapid pulse
- Chest pain
- Kidney failure
- Heart attack
- Increased body temperature
- Increased heart rate
- Low body temperature (hypothermia)
- Brain haemorrhage
Many of these symptoms can lead to coma or even death. Frequent heavy use and high doses can lead to a ‘cocaine psychosis’, which is characterised by unusually violent or aggressive behaviour, hallucinations and paranoid delusions. These symptoms start to reduce after the person stops using cocaine for a few days.
Coming Down Off Cocaine
Once the effects of cocaine start to wear off, the user can experience symptoms such as depression, radical mood swings, anxiety, tension and complete exhaustion. Some users experience such bad come downs and become so severely depressed that they end up doing practically anything they can to get their hands on the drug. If they cannot get cocaine then their depression can become so intense that they start contemplating suicide.
It is common for cocaine users to think of themselves as invincible. In other words, they have the mentality that the worst will not happen to them. However, what they do not realise is that cocaine is one of the most harmful drugs in our society. After all, even first-time users have been known to overdose. Any person who snorts, injects or smokes cocaine is putting themselves at risk of an overdose. Cocaine users should not wait until a potentially life-threatening overdose makes them stop using the drug.
Symptoms of Cocaine Overdose
Cocaine’s euphoric effects are short, with the longest lasting approximately 30 minutes. An overdose typically occurs when a person uses more of the drug once their initial high starts to wear off. Because the user is chasing that high, he does not notice (or even care about) how much cocaine he has taken.
Anyone who experiences a cocaine overdose must seek immediate medical attention because it can be fatal. An ambulance must be called right away by phoning triple zero (000). Please note that ambulance officers do not have to involve the police.
- Excessive talking
- Copious sweating
- Aggressive behaviour
- Paler skin colour
- Panic attacks
- Tingling sensation in the legs and arms
Once one or several of these symptoms are apparent, the user may start to choke or vomit. He may also start to cough or breathe quickly, or experience severe breathing difficulties.
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How an Overdose Affects the Body
During a cocaine overdose, convulsions and seizures are common because the brain is under attack. The brain’s blood vessels can rupture, which can lead to a lethal aneurysm. Additionally, since the nerve cells cannot communicate properly, the cocaine user may start to experience uncontrollable muscle movements, such as teeth chattering, jaw grinding or shaking. Their arms and legs may begin to feel weak and shaky, and the increased muscular activity can cause a severely high fever.
On the contrary, the cocaine user’s muscles can become paralysed. In some cases, the user is not even able to call for help. Survivors of cocaine overdoses describe the horrific experience of needing help but being physically unable to ask for it.
Aside from the effects to the brain, a cocaine overdose also has a huge effect on the heart. The cocaine user might experience severe chest pressure or pain because the coronary arteries that deliver blood to the heart become constricted. During this stage, the heart is starving for oxygen and blood. While the heart is in a state of emergency, it starts to work even harder – which can eventually cause a heart attack or stroke, regardless of how healthy the user’s body is.
The cocaine user’s heart rate and blood pressure can spike to dangerous levels during an overdose, which can cause heart failure. Users with existing heart problems or high blood pressure, which are existent without drug use, have an even higher risk of dying from a stroke or heart attack. Additionally, irregular heart rhythms can also result in death.
After the Overdose
If the cocaine user is lucky enough to survive the potentially lethal overdose, it is possible that their body may be affected for the rest of their life. Some of the long-term effects of a cocaine overdose include severe damage to the body’s major organs, such as the liver, heart, brain, kidney and lungs. The bladder, intestines and reproductive organs can also experience extensive damage.
Aside from bodily damage, an overdose can alter the way a person feels and thinks – even if they give up cocaine. They may experience delusions, panic attacks, paranoia, tremors and psychosis.
Get Help Now
If you or a person you know has a problem with cocaine, seek help immediately. Do not wait until an overdose happens before getting help. If you are a survivor of a drug overdose, you are incredibly fortunate to be given a second chance at life. Contact us and take control of your life today and get treatment, before it is too late.
There are inpatient and outpatient treatment options available that can be customised to suit anyone’s lifestyle. Do not let excuses stop you from living a healthier life.