Short & Long-Term Side Effects Of Cocaine

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There are several short-term and long-term side effects associated with cocaine abuse. These side effects can range in severity and influence a person’s physical and psychological health.

Side Effects Of Cocaine

Cocaine is an illegal drug commonly used by snorting the powder form through a straw, or diluting the substance in water and injecting it intravenously.

There are a number of health problems that may arise due to a cocaine addiction including behavioral issues, physical ailments, and complications during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Short-Term Side Effects Of Cocaine Abuse

The following are some of the short-term side effects that may arise in the preliminary stages of cocaine addiction.

These effects will vary based on the person’s overall health, method of abuse, frequency of use, and other factors.

How Cocaine Affects The Body

When ingested, cocaine triggers the brain to produce high levels of dopamine, which is a chemical messenger responsible for feelings of pleasure and well-being.

The buildup of dopamine in the body will cause a burst of energy, euphoria, alertness, and talkativeness.

The use of cocaine will also result in high blood pressure, an increase in body temperature, blood vessel constriction, high heart rate, runny nose, muscle twitches, and more.

Learn more about the physical effects of cocaine.

Cocaine Abuse And Sex Drive

Cocaine use may increase libido in the short term, but long-term cocaine addiction will typically lower sex drive and may even affect the ability to function during sex.

Additionally, the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) may increase due to reckless behavior such as engaging in unprotected sex with strangers.

Read about cocaine’s effect on sex drive.

Cocaine Eyes

Cocaine eyes, also known as cocaine pupils, refers to the way cocaine dilates pupils after use. Along with an increased sensitivity to light, the eyes may also appear red or bloodshot.

Learn more about the condition known as cocaine eyes.

Cocaine’s Effect On The Brain

The short-term effects of cocaine on the brain include intense euphoria, mental alertness, and hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch.

The duration of cocaine’s effects will be dependent on the method of use. Large amounts of cocaine may lead to paranoia, panic, anxiety, or erratic and violent behavior.

Read more about how cocaine affects the brain.

Cocaine’s Effect On The Bowels

Cocaine abuse can affect bowels in a number of ways, including activating the digestive system and creating the need to poop.

People often experience abdominal pain, gastrointestinal problems, and changes to metabolism from using cocaine regularly.

Learn more about how cocaine affects the bowels.

Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine Abuse

Long-term side effects of cocaine use will differ among people based on factors including their tolerance level, dosage used, and any pre-existing health conditions they may have.

Coke Nose

Over time, snorting cocaine can lead to decreased circulation in the nose, nosebleeds, weakening of the lining of the nose, and could eventually result in septum and hard palate damage.

Healing the nose will usually require medical treatment. Plastic surgery may be required to correct deformities caused by septal defects, saddle nose, or hard palate damage.

Read more about coke nose.

Cocaine Use And Weight Loss

When cocaine circulates through the body and affects neurotransmitters, it also acts as an appetite suppressant due to how stimulants tend to change eating habits.

People who misuse cocaine will often eat less, which will result in dramatic weight loss and nutrient deficiency over time.

Learn more about cocaine’s effect on weight loss.

Coke Jaw

Coke jaw is one of the most common side effects of cocaine abuse, and is caused by erratic moving and clenching of the jaw while high on cocaine.

Jaw pain, temporomandibular disorders (TMD), teeth grinding, and perforation of the oral palate may result from long-term cocaine addiction.

Read more about coke jaw.

Cocaine Headaches

Cocaine causes headaches due to the way the drug affects the central nervous system, particularly the impairment of the dopaminergic and serotonergic systems.

Risk factors for developing cocaine-induced headaches include age, gender, people with a history of cocaine use, and people with a high risk of stroke.

Learn about cocaine headaches.

Cocaine-Induced Psychosis

Over time, people who use cocaine may lose touch with reality and become increasingly paranoid or experience intense hallucinations.

Cocaine psychosis is relatively common with long-term misuse of the drug, and having one psychotic episode will increase the risk for future bouts of psychosis.

Read about cocaine-induced psychosis.

Cocaine’s Effect On The Heart

Long-term substance use involving cocaine has the potential to damage all the organs in the body, including the cardiovascular system.

Heart damage from cocaine use can lead to chest pains, higher risk of heart attack or stroke, weakening of the heart muscle, and arterial injury.

Learn more about how cocaine affects the heart.

How Cocaine Affects Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

During pregnancy, cocaine use will interfere with blood circulation and the health of the placenta, which can affect the supply of oxygen and food to the baby.

Complications from crack cocaine or regular cocaine abuse may include placental abruption, premature birth, low birth weight, or neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

While breastfeeding, cocaine may transfer to breast milk and into the baby which can have adverse effects such as irritability, dilated pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactive reflexes.

Read more about using cocaine while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Treatment Programs For Cocaine Addiction

If you or a loved one are battling substance use involving cocaine or other substances, a rehab center that offers evidence-based and holistic services can help.

Addiction treatment options for cocaine may include:

  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • medical detox
  • group therapy for adolescents
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders
  • 12-step programs
  • inpatient treatment
  • partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
  • intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
  • treatment for mental illness

Finding a behavioral health treatment program that fits your needs will help prevent painful cocaine withdrawal symptoms and potentially dangerous cocaine overdose.

Find A Substance Abuse Treatment Center For Cocaine Addiction

Call our helpline today for more information on addiction recovery programs for cocaine abuse. Our team will answer your questions and put you on track for long-term recovery.


Canton, Massachusetts

Bedrock Recovery Center


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Plymouth, Massachusetts

Ohio Recovery Center


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Spring Hill Recovery Center


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