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 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.