In Canada, cocaine is the most commonly injected drug in the country. It’s part of what accounts for the one to two cocaine deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in Toronto. Simply put, cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug that can have severe physical and mental effects on those who use it. Cocaine can cause heart attack, stroke, and death. It can also lead to addiction and severe mental health problems, not to mention a horrible cocaine comedown that can leave people feeling in the dumps.
If you are addicted to cocaine or know someone who is, we urge you to consider both the short-term and long-term physical and mental effects of using cocaine. Here’s what to know about how cocaine affects the mind and body (along with resources where people can find help).
A Brief History of Cocaine
The active ingredient in cocaine, cocaethylene, is derived from the coca plant, which is native to South America. For centuries, Indigenous people have chewed on coca leaves to produce a mild stimulant effect.
In the 19th century, cocaine was isolated from the coca plant and became popular as a medical treatment for a variety of conditions. It was also used as an anesthetic during surgery. However, by the early 20th century, the dangers of cocaine abuse were becoming apparent.
In 1914, the United States banned the sale and use of cocaine. Despite this ban, cocaine remained popular among recreational users and continued to be a problem for law enforcement agencies.
In the 1970s and 1980s, cocaine became associated with the hip-hop and disco scenes in the United States, which eventually spread throughout the rest of North America and up into Canada.
Today, it is a Schedule I drug, meaning that possession of cocaine in Canada can earn someone up to seven years in prison. Likewise, trafficking the drug can lead to life in prison. While these measures might seem harsh, the severity of the drug warrants such laws.
What Happens During & After Cocaine Use
When someone uses cocaine, it causes a flood of dopamine in their brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centres.
Normally, dopamine is released by the brain in response to activities that make humans feel good, like eating or having sex. However, with cocaine, dopamine is released all at once, causing an intense feeling of pleasure.
The problem is that the short-lived high produced by cocaine is followed by a comedown. This means that people who use cocaine often find themselves using it more and more frequently in an attempt to recapture that initial high. Cocaine use can lead to addiction, which can cause serious health problems.
Ultimately, understanding how cocaine works and affects the body can help those struggling with substance abuse to understand the effects of what they’re ingesting. That being said, it’s also important to understand what happens in the body after cocaine use.
What Happens During a Cocaine Comedown?
When the effects of cocaine wear off, people can feel a range of unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, and depression. These symptoms are often referred to as cocaine comedown.
While the intensity of the symptoms can vary from person to person, they typically peak within 24-48 hours after last using cocaine.
For some people, the cocaine comedown can be so severe that it leads to suicidal thoughts or attempts. The severity of these symptoms depends on a variety of factors, including the length of time cocaine was used, the amount used, and the individual’s tolerance.
Symptoms of a Cocaine Hangover
As mentioned above, some of the most common symptoms of a cocaine comedown, also known as a cocaine hangover, include fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
However, understanding the other common signs and symptoms of a comedown can help those struggling with cocaine use make sense of what’s happening, why it’s happening, and how to best manage the symptoms.
Here are five common symptoms of a cocaine comedown and why they occur after someone uses cocaine.
One of the most common side effects of cocaine use is a runny nose. Medically speaking, this is because cocaine acts as a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it narrows the blood vessels. This can lead to inflammation and congestion in the nasal passages, resulting in a runny nose.
In addition, cocaine is a stimulant, and as such, it can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This can also contribute to inflammation and congestion.
When cocaine is present in the brain, it increases activity levels of important neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating mood, and when they are depleted after cocaine use, it can lead to feelings of depression.
Additionally, cocaine use can lead to changes in brain chemistry that further contribute to a depressed mood. Depleted serotonin is likely the culprit here as it leads to a decline in cognitive flexibility along with general feelings of sadness and depression.
Therefore, it is not surprising that many people report feeling depressed after using cocaine (along with other symptoms such as increased appetite, coke jaw, and more).
Medically, brain fog after using cocaine is caused by disruptions in normal neurotransmission. This can make thinking, remembering, and learning new things very hard.
What’s the root cause, though? Dopamine isn’t only responsible for pleasure and happiness. It’s also a chemical involved in motivation, pleasure, and reward. Normally, dopamine is recycled back into the nerve cell that released it after it has been used.
However, cocaine prevents dopamine from being recycled, causing excessive amounts to build up in the space between nerve cells. This buildup causes continuous stimulation of nearby nerve cells, which can lead to brain fog.
Physical Shaking or Tremors
Medically, physical shaking or tremors after using cocaine is caused by an influx of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a hormone that’s released in response to stress, and it’s also a key player in the fight-or-flight response.
When someone goes on a coke bender, their body releases norepinephrine in large amounts, which can lead to physical shaking or tremors.
Short-Term & Long-Term Mental Effects of Cocaine
Among the consequences of using cocaine are the numerous physical dangers associated with its use (namely in the heart), such as an increased heart rate and high blood pressure. However, the mental dangers often go ignored.
Using cocaine can lead to feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and depression. It can also cause hallucinations and delusions. In some cases, it can even lead to psychotic breaks from reality.
These mental health risks are just some of the dangers associated with this highly addictive substance. Anyone considering its use should be aware of the risks involved, including the risks and consequences of developing cocaine paranoia.
While the exact causes of cocaine paranoia are not fully understood, there are several potential contributing factors. One theory is that cocaine causes changes in brain chemistry that lead to paranoia.
Additionally, cocaine can also cause people to become anxious and paranoid due to its stimulating effects. Finally, people who abuse cocaine often suffer from sleep deprivation, which can also lead to paranoid thoughts and delusions.
Need to learn how to sleep after cocaine? Try to relax. Then, create an environment conducive to sleep while also avoiding other stimulants close to bedtime.
Short-Term & Long-Term Physical Effects of Cocaine
As mentioned above, most people seem to be more aware of the physical effects of cocaine than the mental effects. However, it still seems that people underestimate the dire consequences of both long-term and short-term cocaine use.
Here are some of the most common physical effects of cocaine use and what causes them to occur.
Coke jaw is a common condition that can occur after consuming large amounts of cocaine. The symptoms include:
- Pain in the jaw
- Swelling in the jaw
- Clicking or popping of the jaw
- Severe headaches
- Teeth grinding
- Difficulty moving the mouth
Coke jaw is caused by the drug’s interference with blood flow to the jawbone. This can lead to the death of bone tissue, as well as infection and inflammation. This means that coke jaw is a serious condition that can require surgery to correct.
Want to know how to stop coke jaw? The most effective way to prevent coke jaw is to not use cocaine.
However, for those struggling with cocaine addiction, one option is to have botox injections into the affected muscles. This can help to relax the muscles and ease the pain.
Another option is to undergo surgery to release the tightened muscles. This is a more invasive option, but it can be very effective.
Coke eye is a term used to describe the appearance of tiny red blood vessels on the surface of the eyeballs. In most cases, people with coke eyes will also have very dilated pupils. This condition is often because cocaine, as mentioned, is a vasoconstrictor.
Cocaine Weight Loss
Does cocaine make you lose weight? It can, yes. This is because cocaine affects the body’s neuroreceptors. This, in turn, means it can act as an appetite suppressant and lead to irregular eating habits.
Not only that, but this disruption of neuroreceptors can cause profound changes in someone’s metabolism and may lead to weight loss. Likewise, when the body’s neuroreceptors are out of whack, it’s harder for it to properly store fat.
This is also likely why some people experience cocaine weight loss. They can’t regulate their eating habits and this, along with the inability of their body to properly store fat, leads to weight loss over time.
Cocaine Nose Damage
When someone snorts cocaine, the damage it does to your nose is twofold.
First, cocaine constricts blood vessels. This decreases the blood flow to the mucus membranes, which leads to a decrease in the production of mucus. As a result, the nose becomes dry and inflamed, making it more susceptible to damage.
Additionally, cocaine directly irritates the lining of your nose, causing inflammation and damage. This can lead to a perforated septum (a hole in the cartilage that separates the nostrils), as well as other serious problems such as a cocaine nosebleed.
Other common ways in which cocaine affects the nose include:
- Cocaine nose collapse
- Deviated septum from cocaine use
- Nose sores from cocaine use
- Cocaine stuffy nose
- Cocaine runny nose
All of these are caused by the fact that cocaine causes blood vessels in the nose to restrict and eventually break.
How to Detox From Cocaine
Detoxing from cocaine isn’t easy, but it can be done with the right mindset and support system. The first step is to detox physically, which means getting the drug out of your system. People can do this by detoxing under medical supervision
Ultimately, detoxing under medical supervision is the safest and most effective way to detox, but detoxing physically is only half the battle, though. The second step is to detox mentally, which means dealing with the underlying issues that led to cocaine use in the first place.
Typically, this requires therapy, support groups, and/or self-care. Recovery is a long and difficult journey, but it’s worth it to live a life free from cocaine addiction.
Resources for Cocaine Addicts
While the effects of cocaine might seem scary, there are resources available to help cocaine addicts get their lives back on track. Rehabilitation centres offer medical and psychological support to help addicts detoxify and recover from the physical and mental effects of addiction.
In addition, counselling and support groups can provide valuable advice and guidance. For those who are struggling to overcome addiction, these resources can be essential for regaining control of their lives.
For example, Cocaine Anonymous meetings provide a safe and welcoming environment for people who are struggling with cocaine addiction. The meetings are confidential, and members are not required to share any personal information.
Cocaine Anonymous and many rehab programs also offer a 12-step program that helps members to break free from their addiction. The 12 steps encourage members to take responsibility for their recovery and to reach out to others for help and support.
Get Help at Ontario’s Best Private Addiction Treatment Centre
For those struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to seek out professional help. At Simcoe Rehab, we offer inpatient and virtual outpatient treatment programs alongside evidence-based and compassionate services.
Our goal is to help our patients heal and recover and ultimately lead healthy and happy lives. Explore our cocaine addiction program now to help you or your loved one take the first steps toward recovery.