Cocaine Side Effects: Risks, Dangers and Treatments

Drug use and health are inextricably linked. Using drugs can have serious effects on your health. Abusing drugs can cause long-term health effects, some of which may never subside. 

Cocaine is a dangerous drug to become addicted to. Cocaine’s effects are immediate, but the consequences can be dire.

At Sivana Bali, we want to help people address their substance use, process addiction, and mental health concerns.

An Overview of Cocaine

Cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride) is a stimulant drug that is derived from the leaves of the coca plant that is native to South America. It was used by indigenous people for ritual and medical purposes but has since become a popular recreational drug, particularly for those with significant financial resources as it tends to be rather expensive.

Cocaine commonly comes in the form of white powder and people usually snort it. However, there is a type of cocaine known as crack cocaine, or just crack, which is made by mixing cocaine with baking powder or another base, and then heating it until it forms what resembles small, tan rocks.

Smoking crack cocaine allows it to reach the brain quicker, which can intensify its already potent effects. Some people also inject it, but injecting cocaine carries the risk of spreading diseases such as HIV and hepatitis as many addicts share needles.

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug and its use and possession are illegal in most parts of the world, though there are countries where possession and cultivation are legal to some extent.

How Cocaine Works

Cocaine affects the brain’s neurotransmitter systems. Cocaine blocks the reuptake of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. Normally, dopamine is reabsorbed into the neuron that released it in the first place. However, cocaine blocks this reuptake and increases the level of dopamine in the synapses.

This increase in dopamine levels leads to feelings of euphoria, which is the ‘high’ of cocaine.

Risk Factors for Cocaine Addiction

It’s not entirely understood what causes addiction. Some people can take cocaine once and never do it again. But others take it and begin to crave it to the point that these cravings can take over their lives. 

What is known is that there are a number of factors that can lead to cocaine addiction. One of the most prominent is a family history of addiction. People with a family history of substance abuse have a higher risk of becoming addicts themselves.

There are also psychological factors that can lead a person to drug use. Stress, trauma, or an unaddressed mental health concern can lead to addiction as people may turn to drugs as a coping mechanism.

A person’s environment can also play a role in cocaine use and addiction. In most places, drug use is frowned upon if not prohibited outright. However, there are areas in which using drugs is prevalent and being in these environments can encourage someone to start using drugs themselves.

In the same vein, peer influence can also be a risk factor for substance use as having friends or close acquaintances who use drugs increases the likelihood of a person using drugs themselves.

Immediate Cocaine Effects

Cocaine causes several immediate effects aside from the high described earlier. Some of the immediate side effects of cocaine include:

Increased Energy and Alertness

Because cocaine is a stimulant, using it can lead to an immediate increase in energy levels and alertness. Because of this, cocaine users can sometimes feel mentally sharper. This can also cause some people to become hyperactive, restless, or jittery.

Increased Sociability

The use of cocaine can also cause some people to become more talkative and sociable. This can make people who are high on cocaine more outgoing.

Decreased Appetite

Using cocaine can suppress a person’s appetite. This leads to decreased feelings of hunger. This side effect can lead to potential weight loss and malnutrition with long-term cocaine use.

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Given that it is a stimulant, cocaine can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. These effects can be especially pronounced in those using purer strains or higher doses of cocaine, or those with preexisting cardiovascular conditions.

Blood Vessel Constriction

There are many ways that Another of cocaine’s unwanted effects is that it can constrict the blood vessels, which can reduce the supply of blood to the body. This can lead to complications such as reduced oxygen supply to parts of the body as well as the cardiovascular problems described above.can help someone get help for their excessive drinking. Some of these ways include:

Increased Body Temperature

Cocaine can also increase body temperature (hyperthermia). In normal cases, this may not present a problem, but it can be dangerous when a person is engaging in physical activity or is in a hot environment.

What Are The Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?

Cocaine abuse also has long-term side effects. Some of the effects of long-term use of cocaine include:


One of the most serious side effects of long-term cocaine use can be developing a tolerance. The more that a person uses cocaine, the more their body becomes acclimated to it.

When the body develops a tolerance, an addict has to use more to achieve the same high. This can significantly increase the risk of overdose and a cocaine overdose can have serious consequences if a person is not given immediate medical attention.


Another side effect of being addicted to cocaine is dependence. This dependence makes it so that if a person tries to stop using cocaine, or goes too long without using it, then they may begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can include fatigue, depression, anxiety, mood swings, increased appetite, vivid dreams, cognitive impairments, and physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle pains, tremors, chills, and sweating.

Withdrawal from cocaine can also cause people to experience a ‘crash.’ This is characterised by a sudden and profound loss of energy, low mood, and lack of motivation. This crash can be difficult to navigate and contribute to depression and lethargy.

Respiratory Problems

One of the most prominent health risks of smoking crack cocaine is that it can cause respiratory problems like a chronic cough. Smoking cocaine can also decrease lung capacity and make a person more vulnerable to respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.

Physical Deformation

Snorting cocaine can also irritate the nasal passages and lead to physical deformation of the nose as it can erode the nasal septum, which is the thin layer of cartilage between the nostrils.

Legal and Social Consequences

Cocaine is an illegal substance. Because of this, being caught possessing it can have serious legal consequences. Depending on how much cocaine a person is caught with, they may face life in prison.

Cocaine use can also strain a person’s relationships with their friends and family.

Cocaine is often associated with wealth and status, but the high price of the drug can also put a person in financial trouble. Many workplaces can also levy consequences for those who fail drug tests and cocaine can last up to 4 days in the urine after the last use.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Cocaine abuse causes gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. It can also increase the risk of ulcers, perforations, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Cardiovascular Issues

Because cocaine’s side effects may include increased blood pressure and heart rate, long-term abuse can put a person at risk for health complications such as heart attack, cardiomyopathy (damage to the heart muscle), stroke, arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), and an increased risk of sudden cardiac arrest.

Addiction Treatment To Help People Stop Using Cocaine

A cocaine high is euphoric and this can lead to addiction and it’s this same high that can make addressing addiction difficult. However, there are a few treatments for cocaine use disorder that can help people overcome the need to use cocaine and crack cocaine. 

Some of the treatment options for people struggling with cocaine use include:


One of the first ways to help people who abuse cocaine stop taking the drug is to detox them. This can lead to the withdrawal symptoms listed above. However, medical detox is done under the supervision of medical personnel, who can help make the process as painless as it possibly can be.

Dual Diagnosis

Because there’s often a link between substance abuse and mental health, any treatment plan has to include mental health services. For some people, cocaine usage is the result of coping with an untreated mental health concern.

It should also be said that cocaine use often exacerbates existing mental health disorders.

Therapeutic Interventions

Individual and group counselling are both important facets of cocaine addiction treatment. They can give a recovering addict a safe space to talk about their feelings, share their struggles, and develop coping mechanisms to manage their cravings.

Evidence-based practices such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI) can help people understand the root causes of their addiction and develop skills for long-term recovery.

We Want To Help You Stop the Use of Cocaine

Cocaine may feel good at first, but because its effects include things that can be devastating, many addicts find themselves wishing they could stop. The problem is that many can’t stop without getting the proper help.

At Sivana Bali we want to give people the help they need to overcome addictions to drugs like cocaine. Contact us now and we can begin your recovery journey.

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