Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse
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Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse

The side effects of cocaine abuse consist of constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased body temperature, elevated heart rate, and higher than normal blood pressure. Some users of the drug have experienced side effects ranging from jitters to seizures while on cocaine. The side effects of snorting this drug often lead to nosebleeds, hoarseness, a persistently runny nose, and other associated problems. Users who inject the drug may experience side effects of cocaine abuse like severe allergic reactions, heart failure, and/or death. Frequent users of cocaine often experience agitation, depression, and insomnia. They may become increasingly paranoid, restless, and irritable. For some, the side effects of cocaine abuse evolve into a mental illness that involves hallucinations and psychosis.

With the accumulating medical evidence of the harmful side effects of cocaine abuse, the public and government have become alarmed again about its growing use. Even though the public is often regaled with highly publicized accounts of deaths from cocaine, many still mistakenly believe the drug, especially when snorted, to be non-addictive and not as harmful as other illicit drugs. Those who inject the drug are at high risk for AIDS and hepatitis when they share needles. To many Americans, especially health care and social workers who deal with cocaine users and have witnessed the personal and societal devastation it produces, cocaine abuse is by far the most serious drug problem in the United States.

The side effects of cocaine abuse will often lead to heart problems that have serious and even fatal outcomes such as:

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy - and enlarged heart
  • Endocarditis - inflammation of the heart lining
  • Heart attack, cardiac arrest, and sudden death
  • Myocarditis - heart muscle damage leading to heart failure
  • Pulmonary edema - fluid in the lungs
  • Vascular thrombosis - clots in the coronary arteries

Cocaine dependence is the source of numerous side effects of cocaine abuse including chest pain, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, respiratory failure, heart problems, strokes, seizures, headaches, tremors, abdominal pain, and nausea. Those who smoke and/or inject the drug are in extreme danger of these serious side effects of cocaine abuse.

Smoking or injecting cocaine causes the drug to reach the users brain very quickly, leaving the liver no time to process the chemicals. The users body is left unprotected from any potential poisonous substances mixed with the drug. Because the effects of the drug are felt nearly instantaneously, the high from smoking or injecting cocaine is even more powerful than snorting the drug. Chronic users of cocaine can become malnourished due to the drug's ability to decrease appetite.

All methods of taking this drug produce specific health related side effects of cocaine abuse:

  • Ingesting: Severe bowel gangrene due to a reduction in the flow of blood to the intestines.
  • Injecting: Severe allergic reactions. Increased risk for contracting HIV, Hepatitis, and other blood-borne diseases.
  • Snorting: Chronically runny nose, nosebleeds, loss of smell, hoarseness, and problems swallowing.

The side effects of cocaine abuse are often exacerbated by the use of additional drugs. In fact, mixing cocaine with other substances makes using cocaine more likely to be fatal. The most common cause of death from cocaine overdose is respiratory failure. Respiratory failure is more common when a depressant drug such as heroin has been taken in addition to using cocaine. This combination is known as a speedball. Cocaine is also particularly dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Combining the two drugs creates a substance known as cocaethylene, which strengthens the high of cocaine and increases the risk of sudden death in the user.

Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse
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