Every year 14 million people around the world use cocaine. For some, it seems to be a casual pastime, and for others it can be a fatal activity. Unfortunately, 75% of the people who try it develop a cocaine addiction and most (three out of four) cannot quit on their own. Despite the fact that cocaine is the second most common illegal drug in the world, its use comes with serious risks.
General effects of cocaine
Often people begin using cocaine because they learn how wonderful the high can seem. However, along with the euphoria, users may experience:
- Altered motor activities such as tremors and hyperactivity
- Violence – both suicidal and homicidal
These effects don’t always stop when use stops and may also include serious side effects on major functions of the body.
Effects of cocaine on the heart
Cocaine can cause dangerous effects on the circulatory system. Even casual, physically fit users can suffer an unexpected heart attack or stroke. Cocaine-related deaths are often due to the heart stopping, followed quickly by breathing stopping.
Although not all of the effects of cocaine addiction are fatal, many of the following effects can last days after the last use such as:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Stiffened arteries
- Constricted blood vessels
- Greater blood clotting
- Thicker heart muscles
Over time, with continued use, the risk of serious heart-related issues increases.
Cocaine use and mental illness
Cocaine prompts the body to release dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure. This results in euphoria during use, then the potential for depression, anxiety and insomnia as the drug wears off. Depression after use can last for days, creating a dangerous situation for anyone who has already experienced episodes of depression.
This pattern of euphoria followed by depression prompts users to decrease the time between episodes of cocaine use which prevents the heart from recovering from the last experience. The heart then goes through the same potentially damaging changes with each use. This cycle causes increased risks to both mental and physical health.
Studies have shown that people with any kind of mental illness are more likely to experience more complicated symptoms of use such as severe mood changes, anxiety and insomnia. Additionally cocaine users with mental illness experience more psychiatric hospitalizations and are:
• Less likely to follow treatment plans
• Less likely to receive adequate medical care
• More likely to experience severe medical complications
• More likely to suffer an early death
• At increased risk for impulsive/potentially violent acts
• More likely to attempt suicide
• More likely to become physically dependent on drugs
Getting help for cocaine addiction
Cocaine use may start as a one-time activity, but can quickly develop into a dangerous cocaine addiction. With a fatality rate three times higher than any other illegal drug, cocaine is not simply a recreational activity, but is dangerous behavior. If you or someone you know is currently using cocaine, call our Hotline at 800-447-9081. Help is available.