What Does Cocaine Do To Your Body? Physical Effects Of Coke

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Cocaine is a powerful drug with the ability to alter normal respiratory and cardiac behavior. While these are the most notable physical effects of cocaine abuse, they are a small part of a much longer list of potentially hazardous side effects.

Physical Effects Of Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful, stimulant drug that is usually in the form of a white powder or crystallized as crack cocaine.

It can be ingested, snorted, smoked, or administered via injection. When cocaine is combined with heroin and injected intravenously, it’s called a “speedball.”

The method of administration may be responsible for a number of specific side effects, but the essential effects of cocaine addiction on the body and the reuptake of dopamine are the same.

What Are The Short-Term Physical Effects Of Cocaine?

The effects of cocaine are not limited to the reward center of your brain. Using cocaine causes a wide range of short-term physical side effects that you might not realize.

Common short-term, physical side effects of cocaine include:

  • insomnia
  • constricted blood vessels
  • dilated pupils
  • skin blisters
  • abdominal pain
  • increased body temperature
  • rapid heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • diarrhea
  • bloody stool

Of the short-term physical effects of cocaine, some of the most noticeable are the effects on your eyes, sex drive, bowels, and heart.

Cocaine Eyes

The term “cocaine eyes” can refer to several physical effects caused by cocaine use.

In most cases, the term is used to describe the dilated pupils caused by the heightened concentration of norepinephrine in the brain.

However, the term can also be used to describe exophthalmos, which is the scientific term for bulging eyes and is commonly associated with chronic cocaine abuse.

Read more about cocaine eyes.

Cocaine’s Effect On Sex Drive

The research related to cocaine’s effect of sex drive is mixed.

With that said, the vast majority of the scientific literature suggests that cocaine increases sex drive while decreasing male performance.

The most commonly used indicator for decreased male performance is erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction is a frequent side effect of cocaine use, especially for intravenous users.

Additional research suggests that cocaine’s impact on the reproductive system may not be limited to the act of sex. Repeated cocaine abuse may also negatively affect fertility.

Learn more about cocaine’s effect on sex drive.

Cocaine’s Effects On The Bowels

It’s important to remember that cocaine is a stimulant, and its effects are not limited to a single organ system.

Pure cocaine is associated with an intense need to relieve your bowels and diarrhea is a common side effect.

However, if your cocaine is heavily laced with other substances, you may experience the exact opposite effect in the form of intense constipation.

Read more about cocaine’s effect on the bowels.

Effects Of Cocaine On The Heart

Cocaine’s short-term effects on the heart are some of the most extreme.

The drug increases your heart rate and acts as a vasoconstrictor, encouraging your blood vessels to decrease their diameter.

This forces the same amount of blood through a smaller space at a faster rate, artificially stimulating an increase in blood pressure.

These short-term cardiovascular changes can easily go from mild to severe if you have a pre-existing condition or choose to combine cocaine with another substance, like alcohol.

Learn about the effect of cocaine on the heart.

What Are The Long-Term Physical Effects Of Cocaine?

The short-term physical effects of cocaine can be unpleasant and potentially dangerous. The long-term effects can be much worse, resulting in permanent health problems.

Common long-term, physical side effects of cocaine include:

  • arterial plaque buildup
  • nosebleeds
  • perforated septum
  • loss of sense of smell
  • hair loss
  • weight loss
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • seizures
  • liver damage
  • ulcers
  • gastrointestinal tearing
  • tooth decay

Of the long-term side effects associated with chronic cocaine abuse, the most notable are oral injury, organ damage, and cardiac events.

Coke Jaw

“Coke jaw” is a colloquial term that is used to describe the way people tend to clench and grind their jaw when they use cocaine.

Over time, this behavior physically wears down the teeth, exposing them to further damage by the acids and bacteria that routinely circulate through the oral cavity.

Long-term cocaine abuse ultimately results in severe tooth decay, gum disease, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction.

Learn more about coke jaw.

Cocaine-Induced Weight Loss

The long-term weight loss that is commonly associated with cocaine is often a result of combined psychological and physiological responses.

The physical aspect of cocaine-induced weight loss is driven by two factors: appetite suppression and metabolic imbalance.

Eating less due to cocaine use is definitely a contributor, but the primary factor is the imbalance affecting fat intake and storage.

Read more about cocaine-induced weight loss.

Coke Nose

The term “coke nose” refers to a condition caused by a group of side effects associated with snorting cocaine.

These side effects include sniffling, runny nose, intranasal irritation, frequent bloody noses, and in more serious cases a hole in the tissue separating the two nostrils.

Learn about coke nose.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

If you are addicted to cocaine, you will likely experience symptoms of withdrawal as your body begins the detoxification process.

Common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include: 

  • chills
  • muscle tremors
  • body aches
  • nerve pain
  • fatigue
  • vivid nightmares
  • cravings
  • agitation
  • increased appetite
  • suicidal thoughts

In some cases, cocaine withdrawal can cause more dramatic changes in cardiac activity or respiratory rate. For your own safety, you should always be monitored during withdrawal.

What Are The Physical Effects Of Cocaine Overdose?

Illegal drug use often comes with a risk of overdose. This risk increases exponentially if you use impure cocaine or combine it with other drugs or alcohol.

You may be experiencing a cocaine overdose if you begin to feel chest pain, tremors, and fever. Additional signs of overdose may include a spike in blood pressure, vomiting, and confusion.

If you or someone you know begins to exhibit any combination of these symptoms, including psychological signs of anxiety or paranoia, you need to contact emergency medical services.

Without immediate medical care, a severe cocaine overdose can result in sudden death.

Treatment Programs For Cocaine Addiction

If you or a loved one are using cocaine and cannot stop, the time to seek treatment is now.

Fortunately, there are many different types of addiction treatment programs that can provide targeted treatment options to meet your healthcare needs.

Common treatment options for cocaine addiction include: 

  • medical detox
  • behavioral therapies
  • individual counseling
  • inpatient rehabilitation programs
  • outpatient rehabilitation programs
  • support groups

Find A Substance Use Disorder Treatment Center

To find a substance abuse treatment center near you, call our helpline or meet with a local health professional to discuss viable treatment options.

Contact us today to find cocaine addiction treatment today.


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