Counting the Ways Cocaine Addiction Hurts Your Health
Author: Justin Mckibben
Cocaine addiction is an incredibly dangerous affliction. While those who struggle may not know there is a way out, others aren’t yet aware of the damage cocaine can do to the body. Even users who like to them of themselves as ‘recreational use’ run the same risk of neurological changes that affect their lives.
Let us draw attention to a long list of effects that come from cocaine use or cocaine addiction. Sadly, these are not even all the risks involved, but the list does present quite a bit of information for anyone wondering if they should seek treatment.
Cocaine on the Body
Cocaine is extremely harmful to the body. Typical signs and symptoms of current cocaine use include:
- Increased movement (i.e. hyperactivity)
- Increased common cold-like symptoms
- Signs of involuntary movements
Another threat cocaine addiction poses to those who use the drug is blood borne infections. Conditions such as HIV or hepatitis C (HCV) are not uncommon for people who inject cocaine. Using any drug through injection often creates the issue of adverse effects through irresponsible and non-sterile needle use.
Another way cocaine addiction destroys the body is related with kidney damage. Long term cocaine use is often though to be connected to the inflammation of important micro-structures within the kidneys. Then consider that drinking alcohol along with cocaine is an exceptionally hazardous combination.
Cocaine on the Heart
One of the most devastating impacts of cocaine addiction is the damage it does to the heart. Cocaine use can lead to cardiotoxicity, and may cause damage by inducing:
- Cell death in the muscles of the heart (cardiomyopathy)
- Inflammation of the inner tissues of the organ (endocarditis) when used intravenously
These cellular special effects contribute to much more serious and possibly lethal conditions, such as:
- Heart attacks
- Cardiac arrhythmias
Other symptoms of cocaine-induced cardiotoxicity include:
- Inflammation of heart muscle
- Rupture of the aorta (major artery from the heart)
- Severe declines in health due to decrease in cardiac function or severe blood loss
Cocaine-induced damage to the heart could even increase the risk of even more adverse issues related to the brain.
Cocaine on the Brain
Cocaine-induced heart failure can Heart failure cannot only cause a stroke, but it can also cause severe brain damage due to interruption in blood flow to the brain.
But even before going to that extreme, cocaine addiction is also associated with harmful variations in brain chemistry. These alterations are directly associated with the increased dependence on cocaine over time. The brain is also modified by the behavioral abnormalities that may result from taking cocaine, including:
- Unusually erratic behavior
- Psychotic symptoms
- New-onset Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Long-term cocaine addiction is also associated with discrepancies in functions of the brain, including:
- Cognitive performance
Part of the way cocaine works is by increasing the neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is commonly called the “pleasure” chemical. It is typically associated with:
- Generation of ‘euphoric’ emotions
- Regulation of movement
- Processing of reward cues
This additionally issue with brain chemistry and dopamine puts cocaine at a considerable potential for dependence and abuse. Once the brain gets used to such a high experience of dopamine over a period of time, the demand for this euphoric feeling increases and the habitual use becomes more prominent.
Coping with Impact of Cocaine
One thing about cocaine addiction is that, like most drug addictions, it has a tendency to impact an individual’s life in other ways than just physical. Emotional health also suffers as well. While an extreme dependence on the drug can cause adverse attitudes and behaviors, it can also cause serious issues professionally or domestically. Family, friends and loved ones often suffer along with the user.
Overdose and even death are a very real possibility to those who use cocaine. It is said that even the first use of cocaine can be fatal for some. A cocaine overdose can induce some very real and sometimes irreparable damage to the individual. Cocaine overdose is frequently sudden and devastating; sometimes occurring without advanced warning. The central nervous system is exposed to elevated risk when using the drug.