10 Most Common Health Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine, also known as crack can have varied effects on the user’s body and mind. These effects however depend on various factors like purity, the quantity and the way that the drug enters the body. The emotional and mental state that the person using the drug is in can also play a part in the way that the drug affects the system. It must also be known that cocaine affects every little part of your body. Below are some of the signs and the symptoms of a victim of cocaine abuse:

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Cocaine and the nervous system

Cocaine can have varied effects on the nervous system. Some users have experiences that are pleasurable. For example users have been reported to have feelings of excitement, increased energy levels, and euphoria. They also experience less tiredness and hunger and become increasingly social. On the other hand there could also be effects that are just the opposite. Restlessness, nausea, vertigo, headaches, dilated pupils and irritability are some of the not so pleasant side effects.

The effects on the brain

Cocaine plays havoc and interferes with the way that a lot of the chemicals in the brain respond. The neurotransmitters that are the most affected are dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin etc. The malfunctioning of these chemical are responsible for a lot of the major complications related to cocaine abuse. Babies that become secondary smokers due to their parents often suffer from seizures.

Respiratory problems

Cocaine is generally sniffed or snorted and this causes great damage to the nasal tract. Recurring nosebleeds, stuffiness, hoarseness and sinusitis are some of the most common problems faced by cocaine users. The cartilage in between both the nostrils is also damaged as the blood supply to this is often decreased. ‘Coke nose’ is a condition that users would be familiar with. This occurs when the septum has a hole or perforation, this in turn results in a whistling like sound when breathing.

The effects on the lungs

Smoking cocaine is generally smoked with the help of a glass pipe or cigarettes. These are lit with matches or lighters. The residue that is a result of these matches and the additives in the drug can lead to chronic coughing of black phlegm and chronic bronchitis. Inhaling the drug can also cause chest pains, shortness of breath, neck pain and even total respiratory failure.

The effect on the sympathetic nervous system

One of the biggest effects of the drug is that it acts as a stimulant to the sympathetic nervous system thus interfering with the functioning of epinephrine and adrenaline. This in turn results in high blood pressure, the narrowing of the blood vessels and an increase in the heart rate. This could often lead to a heart attack.

Other effects on the cardiovascular system

Amongst other complications due to cocaine use, there could also be symptoms such as abnormal or irregular heart rates, the walls of the aorta weakening, diseases related to the heart muscles and angina which is caused due to a decrease in the amount of blood flowing to the heart. All these could lead to heart attacks.

Over stimulation

As explained earlier, cocaine also caused over stimulation, which results in high blood pressure, and increased heart rate. Abnormal heart rates that could be ventricular fibrillation can result in sudden death.


Like any other drug, cocaine is lethal to a pregnant woman as the drug directly affects the fetus. Cocaine use when pregnant can result in miscarriages and still births. The babies that do make it into this world run a high risk of deformities at birth, and abnormal behavior.


Administrating cocaine by means of IV is the cause for various infections including cellulites. This occurs due to infection of the soft tissue at the site of the injection. Other common infections are tetanus, abscesses in the brain or the lung, hepatitis C and B and HIV are also causes due to sharing of needles.

Other major effects

Apart from all of the above, cocaine use can also result strokes, low blood pressure, unconsciousness, coma, and hyperthermia.

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