Cocaine has been the subject of many Hollywood movies. Its popularity is warranted as it is considered as one of the most commonly abused drugs today. Cocaine is stimulant made from the leaves of the South American coca plant. It can cause blood vessels to constrict, pupils to dilate and body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure to increase. It also depresses the appetite which explains why those who are dependent on the substance are thin and malnourished.
Highly-addictive, it is known to produce short-term euphoria, a burst of energy and stimulate excessive talking. Unfortunately, it also causes headaches, nausea and abdominal pain. The more serious side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate. Heart attacks, cardiac arrest and breathing arrest are also side effects of cocaine use which can cause sudden death. Cocaine is especially more fatal when combined with other drugs like heroin or alcoholic beverages. It can also make them lose touch with reality, making users hear things that only they can hear.
Cocaine is typically sold in powder form and users snort it or dissolve it in water before injecting it into their bloodstream. Cocaine that has been processed to form a rock crystal is commonly called crack. This type of cocaine is heated and then smoked so that the vapors get absorbed in the lungs. When taken through injection, the high experienced by cocaine users can last anywhere from five to ten minutes. This is shorter compared to the 15 to 30-minute duration of its pleasurable effects experienced by those who snort or inhale the powder through their nose. However, injection produces stronger effects than snorting.
Cocaine use can impair judgment which leads them to engage in risky sexual acts. This explains why cocaine users are also at risk for HIV/AIDS infection even if they don’t share needles. Those who do share needles do not only have higher chances of contracting HIV, Hepatitis C and other diseases, they are also placed at high risk for experiencing fatal allergic reactions. The other method of cocaine ingestion also leads to other side effects. This includes nosebleeds, hoarseness, chronically runny nose, swallowing problems and the loss of the sense of smell.
As a strong central nervous system stimulant, continued use of cocaine alters the reward system of the brain which leads to tolerance, dependence and addiction. According to many cocaine users, their succeeding encounters with cocaine aren’t as pleasurable as their first encounter with the substance. To recreate that feeling, users consume more of the white powder. However, as in other drugs that are commonly abused by addicts, more cocaine also means increased risk of its detrimental effects to the body and brain.