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Understanding the Long-term Effects of Cocaine Use

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The highly addictive stimulant, cocaine, is a popular recreational drug that gives a sense of euphoria in users. While the effects are not as severe as other drugs like heroin, the symptoms can lead to drug dependency. Since the “high” of the drug is short lived, users can feel an immediate sense of craving that results in aggressive behavior, depression, and even paranoia. Long-term cocaine use affects the entire body, including the heart, brain, and emotional and mental states. While life without cocaine may seem unimaginable, recovery is right around the corner.

Long-term effects on the brain

Cocaine use effects differ from person to person based on the way the body is able to process and react to the drug. There is no accurate way to know how the body will react to the drug, even in chronic users. Physical damage to the body may not be instantaneous, but long-term use can alter moods and emotions permanently. Chronic users may experience:

Damage to blood vessels

Cocaine use restricts the blood flow to the brain by constricting the blood vessels in the brain. This can lead to complications as serious as heart attack and stroke.


Due to its addictive nature, dependency is a major concern. Any time cocaine is used, the risk of dependency and future addiction increases. Once the body becomes tolerant of the drug, it requires more to achieve the same high. Infrequent users are not any less susceptible to these side effects and symptoms as chronic users.

Factors that contribute to long-term effects

The way the body processes cocaine varies from user to user. Long-term effects are highly dependent on factors such as frequency, the method of consumption, and physical attributes. If a person is a chronic user, he/she is more susceptible to negative sides effects for a longer period of time. While a person who uses less isn’t free from side effects, his/her’s may be less intense. Cocaine has an extreme impact on the brain, causing its use to store up over time and create long-term hits to one’s health.

The method of use also has a huge effect on the severity of symptoms. There are three ways to ingest cocaine: snorting, injecting, and smoking.

  • Snorting cocaine can lead to overdoses and in the short-term, nosebleeds and loss of smell.
  • Injecting cocaine can lead to collapsed veins, bruising, and other health risks associated with needle use, such as blood-transmitted diseases.
  • Smoking cocaine hits the lungs directly traveling to the heart and brain. Smoking the drug puts you at the same long-term risks.

How cocaine physically affects the body

Cocaine’s long-term effects are centered around the disruption in the brain, which leads to behavioral and mood disorders. This doesn’t mean it isn’t as equally hard on a person’s physical health. Cocaine puts stress on the heart and brain, affecting other parts of the body as well.

Cocaine suppresses appetite, which can result in malnourishment. Malnourishment also has its own host of health complications. High blood pressure is another side effect of cocaine use, which can become permanent over time. High blood pressure puts stress on the heart and body causing irreversible damage that can further deteriorate one’s health.

Finding the right treatment is crucial to living a healthy and sober lifestyle. While negative influences and temptation may be all around, it is important to focus solely on recovery.

For more information or help, contact us or schedule an appointment today!