What are the Long and Short-term Effects of Cocaine?

One of the most well known and most dangerous drugs in existence, cocaine causes a sharp high and an equally strong low after the effects of the drug wear off. It can have disastrous consequences long term, as well as in the short term. One of the most dangerous factors of cocaine use is the high likelihood that a user will become addicted, building up a tolerance to the drug over time and constantly chasing the rush they first felt when taking it, a high that is unattainable without increasingly larger and more dangerous doses.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine: The immediate effect of cocaine usage is often the high that users so desperately crave: an intense high that lasts only briefly. It’s quickly followed by the opposite: a depression and intense craving for an additional dosage of the drug. Even after the immediate effects of the drug wear off, the short-term consequences that will continue to bother the user once the high has finished.

  • Lessened appetite, or loss of appetite altogether
  • Hallucinations, especially the tactile hallucination of bugs crawling under the skin
  • Anxiety, paranoia, panic and psychosis
  • Depression and disrupted sleep patterns
  • Seizures and uncontrollable convulsions
  • Dilated pupils, nausea, and an increased breathing rate
  • Contracted blood vessels
  • Possibility of sudden death from a high dose—this can and does occur even if it’s the first time a user is taking cocaine.

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine: Regular use of cocaine has much farther reaching impacts than just the short-term effects listed above. It will interfere with the way your brain works, and rewire it into constantly craving another dose of the drug. The drive for a person to use again becomes all encompassing, causing formerly stable people to do anything to get it, including theft, murder, or suicide when they are unable to stave off their cravings. Even without experiencing withdrawal, there are several ways that cocaine can be extremely harmful to the user. Over a period of time, the long term effects of cocaine usage include the following health conditions:

  • Severe decay of the teeth, damage to kidneys, liver, and lungs
  • Psychosis, reproductive damage and infertility
  • Chronic depression
  • Permanent heart and brain damage in the blood vessels
  • Both auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Confused exhaustion, irritability, and malnutrition
  • Nose tissue destruction, respiratory failure, and infectious abscesses depending on the method of drug intake (sniffed, smoked, and injected, respectively).

Finding Help:  Although the side effects of cocaine use are immense, there is still hope for users to succeed in their goals of attaining a drug-free lifestyle. Here at Discovery Institute NJ, we are dedicated to providing relief and healing for those suffering from addiction and regular substance abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine or other drug addiction, Discovery is here to help. Give us a call at 800-714-2175 to learn about how our proven programs can help you or your loved one begin to beat addiction and reclaim a successful life.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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