Jul 9, 2013 | By Tim Stoddart

Long Term Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine Addiction

The high from cocaine doesn’t last very long compared to other drugs, but it can still wreak havoc on a person mentally and physically. Here are some of the long term risks of cocaine use.

Long Term Effects of Cocaine on the Body

long term effects of cocaine

Long term cocaine use can result in a number of different effects on a person’s body. If a person regularly snorts cocaine, they can damage their nasal passageways, which could result in loss of the sense of smell, chronically runny or stuffy nose, and frequent nosebleeds. Smoking cocaine can lead to lung, throat, or mouth cancer, as well as damage to lung tissue. Injecting cocaine can lead to tract marks and scarring at the injection sites.

The elevated heart rate and blood pressure that are associated with cocaine use can also lead to cardiovascular problems and heart disease, like heart attack. If a person has a heart condition such as an arrhythmia, cocaine use can make it a more significant health issue. High blood pressure can also lead to kidney damage.

Other long term effects of cocaine on the body include potential stomach ulcers, scarring from picking at the skin when high or in withdrawal, sexual dysfunction, and stroke. If toxic substances are mixed with the cocaine, they can also cause their own variable long term effects.

Read our article on Quitting Cocaine.

Long Term Effects of Cocaine on the Brain

Cocaine use affects the dopamine system in a person’s body, which is linked to the way we experience pleasure and reward, concentrate, and balance ourselves, among other functions. Long term cocaine use can decrease the amount of dopamine the body produces and impair the body’s ability to respond to dopamine. This can cause long term effects like depression, anxiety, mood swings, paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis, memory loss, poor concentration, and poor coordination or balance.

Other Long Term Effects of Cocaine

Addiction is the biggest risk of long term cocaine use, and this can lead to many consequences that are often associated with addiction. Long term effects of cocaine addiction can include problems with relationships, money, school, work, and the law.

Long term cocaine use can also increase a person’s tolerance to the drug, meaning they’ll need to use more cocaine to feel the same high, which can increase their risk of heart attack, stroke, and death from use.

When a person is high on cocaine, they lose inhibitions and are more likely to engage in risky behavior. Risky behavior can lead to accidents, injuries, or catching a disease, such as an STD. Depression, mood swings, and paranoia can also cause violent behavior.

Factors Influencing Long Term Effects of Cocaine

Not everyone will experience the same long term effects of cocaine use. People who use larger amounts of cocaine and use more frequently will suffer more severe long term effects. A person’s body chemistry or pre-existing conditions can also make a difference. For example, a pre-existing heart condition can increase a long term cocaine user’s risk of heart attack, and a pre-existing depressive disorder can increase a user’s risk of depression.

2 responses to “Long Term Effects of Cocaine

  • Hi Tim,
    My boyfriend is a long time cocaine user and he has finally agreed to go into rehab or lose me forever. He definitely has the psychosis–auditory hallucinations, delusions, and lots of paranoia. He believes everything he thinks and hears, even though none of it is real and all a result of the drugs. It’s so frustrating. If he does this program and is successful, and follows through with everything he needs to do afterwards and beyond, how well can his brain recover from this? Will those psychotic symptoms eventually go away?

    Thank you,

  • Sebastian Gonzalez

    6 years ago

    It’s really astounding how deceiving drugs can be. All too often the consequences of substance abuse do not make themselves apparent until it is too late. In addition to the obvious dangers of addiction and cardiac arrest, cocaine’s depletion of neurotransmitter levels in the brain in combination with the slow process of regenerating those neurotransmitters puts those who abuse drugs at serious risk of mental health issues. Simultaneously those who suffer from mental health issues are at increased risk of abusing drugs as a means of coping. This positive correlation creates a very dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. I believe that the best way avoid falling prey to the allure of substance abuse is to be aware of the potential dangers it carries. I recently read a really informative article outlining the relationship between mental health and substance abuse. You can find it here: https://goo.gl/oavW7D

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