EFFECTS OF COCAINE

What are the short-term effects of cocaine?

Cocaine causes a short-lived, intense high that is immediately followed by the opposite—intense depression, edginess and a craving for more of the drug. People who use it often don’t eat or sleep properly. They can experience greatly increased heart rate, muscle spasms and convulsions. The drug can make people feel paranoid,1 angry, hostile and anxious—even when they aren’t high.

Regardless of how much of the drug is used or how frequently, cocaine increases the risk that the user will experience a heart attack, stroke, seizure or respiratory (breathing) failure, any of which can result in sudden death.

What are the long-term effects of cocaine?

The phrase “dope fiend” was originally coined many years ago to describe the negative side effects of constant cocaine use. As tolerance to the drug increases, it becomes necessary to take greater and greater quantities to get the same high. Prolonged daily use causes sleep deprivation and loss of appetite. A person can become psychotic and begin to experience hallucinations.

As cocaine interferes with the way the brain processes chemicals, one needs more and more of the drug just to feel “normal.” People who become addicted to cocaine (as with most other drugs) lose interest in other areas of life.

Coming down from the drug causes depression so severe that a person will do almost anything to get the drug—even commit murder.

And if he or she can’t get cocaine, the depression can get so intense it can drive the addict to suicide.

Short-term effects
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
  • Contracted blood vessels
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Nausea
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
  • Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability
  • Tactile hallucination that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin
  • Intense euphoria
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Depression
  • Intense drug craving
  • Panic and psychosis
  • Convulsions, seizures and sudden death from high doses (even one time)
Cocaine causes heart, kidney, brain and lung damage.
Long-term effects
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of heart and brain 
  • High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, strokes, and death
  • Liver, kidney and lung damage
  • Destruction of tissues in nose if sniffed
  • Respiratory failure if smoked
  • Infectious diseases and abscesses if injected
  • Malnutrition, weight loss
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Sexual problems, reproductive damage and infertility (for both men and women)
  • Disorientation, apathy, confused exhaustion
  • Irritability and mood disturbances
  • Increased frequency of risky behavior
  • Delirium or psychosis
  • Severe depression
  • Tolerance and addiction (even after just one use)
“Don’t touch cocaine. I spent two years in jail because of this drug. And when I got out, life was so hard I started taking the drug again. I know 10 girls who became prostitutes because of coke. It’s much more extreme and degrading than we believe. At the time we don’t realize to what degree it destroys us.” —Shawne
  1. 1. paranoid: suspicious, distrustful or afraid of other people.