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Cocaine Effects

Cocaine is an alkaloid of the coca plant. The dried coca leaves of the plant are synthesized in a laboratory through a series of steps to form the cocaine base and further into cocaine hydrochloride which is a crystalline white powder. It is a powerful nervous system stimulant. Crack, coke and freebase are all different forms of cocaine. Freebase and crack cocaine are smoked and reach the brain very quickly. Cocaine powder is snorted and this reaches the brain more slowly.

Cocaine stimulates the nervous system and alters the brain's production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The re-absorption of dopamine is affected when cocaine is used.

Short-term Cocaine Effects

Cocaine's effects take over almost immediately after taking the drug. The effects wear off in about a hour's time. When ingested in small amounts, the user feels euphoric, talkative, heightened senses, and feels mentally alert. Whereas some users feel that they can do some tasks with more efficiency after taking cocaine, many others experience an opposite effect.

The physiological effects of cocaine include increased heart rate and higher blood pressure, dilated pupils and constricted blood vessels. Appetite is reduced and body temperature is raised. Larger doses increase the euphoria but sometimes lead to bizarre and violent behavior. Muscle twitches and vertigo are common. Headaches, coma and strokes can occur. These are rare but cardiovascular problems are more common. Heart attack and arrhythmias have been reported. In some rare cases, unexpected death during first-time use has been reported.

Once the euphoria comes down, cocaine users feel an unpleasant crash that can last for many days.

Long-term Cocaine Effects

Long term effects of cocaine appear when the drug has been used for a considerable duration of time. The long-term effects depend on the amount of cocaine that has been used.

Cocaine has been used by fashion models to stay thin. The appetite suppression property of the drug allows the user to carry on without food for many days continuously. Long-term effects also include medical complications such as convulsions, gastrointestinal problems, muscle spasms, etc. Teeth-grinding or bruxism is common in cocaine users. Cocaine users experience hallucinations and in extreme cases display psychotic behavior. Severe gangrene of the bowels is seen due to restricted blood flow to the guts.

Cocaine use over a period of time has been observed to increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases and disorders of the kidney.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Cocaine

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug and users quickly develop a tolerance to the drug. Users need more quantity of the drug to bring about the same effects as the first time. Eventually this leads to addiction. Addicts experience serious withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking the drug.

Vomiting, chills, tremors, and other flu-like symptoms are common during the withdrawal period. Users experience unpleasant crashes after the euphoria and do everything to avoid these crashes. This is cited as one of the main reasons for users turning into addicts. Irritability, anxiety, depression, fatigue, strong craving for the drug, etc., are other symptoms. Insomnia as well as sleepiness, increased appetite, etc., are also felt during withdrawal.

Cocaine effects are thus bad for the body and the consequences of using cocaine over a period of time leads to permanent damage, disease, and sometimes death.

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