Cocaine: Understanding Its EffectsCoca­na: Efecto

Cocaine: Understanding Its Effects

Cocaine is a powerful drug that overstimulates the central nervous system and produces an artificial euphoria. Use can create a harmful dependency that affects behavior and multiplies health risks. To make matters worse, cocaine tricks people into feeling better than they are, making it possible for them to put on a "superhuman'' exterior, while their body is suffering pain and injury.

Immediate Effects

Cocaine triggers many of the same effects as adrenaline, including increased heartbeat, respiration, body temperature, and blood pressure. Within seconds or minutes (depending on method of use), users experience a rush of energy and well-being, which many rely on to help them cope with challenges. But the high from powder cocaine wears off in less than an hour, and crack's euphoric effects last only about 5 minutes. The user is left feeling agitated, depressed, and wanting more.

Effects of Chronic Use

Chronic use can produce cocaine dependency, behavior change, and weight loss. Cocaine also interferes with sleep, causing moodiness and irritability. To counteract these effects, many people compound the cocaine habit by abusing alcohol or other sedatives. Chemically, chronic cocaine use can lower the threshold for brain seizures and alter the brain's pleasure centers so that the user may need cocaine just to feel normal. Those who smoke crack can also suffer chronic sore throats and lung damage.

Risk to Life

Cocaine fatalities are on the rise, even among first-time users. The drug is known to cause toxic reactions, brain seizures, heart attacks, and cardiorespiratory collapse, leading to sudden death for some normal, healthy people. Users with heart conditions, epilepsy, or high blood pressure are especially at risk. Also, many chronic users develop multiple drug dependencies and severe mental disorders that can require psychiatric care. People who inject the drug risk getting infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, and needle sharing among users has become a major factor in spreading AIDS.

Date Last Reviewed: 2007-01-15T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2002-07-09T00:00:00-06:00

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