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Cocaine Effects

Cocaine is very fast-acting but the effects are short-lived. They range from subtle to white knuckle, depending on dosage and purity of the drug. The effects of snorted cocaine can be felt within 10-15 seconds, peaking after five minutes, and fully wearing off after 20-30 minutes. The high from crack cocaine lasts for between five and 10 minutes.

What Cocaine Does to the Brain

Cocaine stimulates the cells of both the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. It works, essentially, by tricking the brain into thinking it's been furnished with something pleasurable, like sex or good food.

The intensity of the high a person gets from using coke depends on how fast his or her body ingests the drug. The faster the drug can be released into the bloodstream, the more intense the feelings of euphoria the user experiences. Unfortunately for the coke user, the more intense the high, the shorter the experience lasts.

First, it prompts nerve cells in the brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and alertness. Then it prevents the dopamine from being re-absorbed, prolonging the elation for an unnaturally long time. Eventually the brain compensates and quickly re-absorbs the dopamine, leading to a rapid and abrupt comedown.

Coke ceases to be quite so nice. Regular use (two or three times a week) builds up tolerance. Therefore, regular users tend to need to take more of it more often to get something approaching the intensity of the high they experienced when they started using the drug. Also, with greater tolerance comes heftier come-downs. Once the brain of the cocaine user gets used to being stimulated by the drug in that way, the person starts to experience cravings in between doses. These cravings are part of the cycle of addiction.

At the peak of cocaine abuse is cocaine psychosis. Like the name implies, continued, regular cocaine use can lead to the addict experiencing a break with reality. The affected individual may feel paranoid and/or anxious. Auditory hallucinations are another symptom of cocaine psychosis. He or she may even become violent during a psychotic episode brought on by cocaine use.

What Using Cocaine Feels Like

Mentally, you feel alert, energized, buzzing. You feel a sudden burst of euphoria and self-confidence which makes you more sociable and talkative. Physically, you feel 'wired' - clenched jaw, wide-eyed, dilated pupils. Your heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature all tend to rise. If you're in poor shape, be careful. You may also feel strong and sexually aroused.

Cocaine use also suppresses appetite. Using coke can cause insomnia, irritability and anxiety in some people. Some people who use it report feeling a greater sense of mental clarity.

Coming Down from Using Coke

The comedown from coke is unpleasant. After a single line, you feel dulled and restless. Coke makes you feel good in short bursts, but it's a superimposed, artificial 'good' that wears off dramatically and leaves you panting for more.

A coke binge can affect your mood for days afterward. The hangover includes: fatigue, jammed-up or sore nose, headaches, irritability, depression, lethargy and inability to concentrate. Basically, a "zombie state".

Often, when you first start using it, these after-effects are minimal. But they get worse with continued use.

Long Term Effects of Using Cocaine

A person who uses cocaine regularly is running the risk of becoming addicted to the drug. Having to feed the habit with ever-increasing doses can lead to the individual engaging in illegal behaviors to get enough money to buy more coke. His or her work and personal relationships may suffer because of the addiction.

Long term cocaine use can affect the individual's mood, leading to depression or irritability. Violent mood swings are not uncommon among coke users.

Paranoia is another possible effect of using cocaine over a long period of time. The feelings of being watched, targeted by others or persecuted can damage the user's personal relationships. The paranoia can also interfere with the individual's ability to function in everyday life.

Using this drug can lead to the individual feeling anxious and restless. These issues have the potential to affect many aspects of the person's life, including his or her work or school, and relationships with others.

Side Effects of Cocaine Use

There are also side effects in the use of cocaine like the following: hemoptysis, brochospasm, pruritus, fever, chest pain, lung trauma, sore throat, asthma, hoarse voice, shortness of breath and an aching, flu-like syndrome.

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Cocaine is extremely habit-forming and you should not overestimate your ability to handle it. If you are concerned about your cocaine use or find that you are unable to stop using it on your own, contact a drug treatment center for professional help.

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