Long Term Effects of Cocaine Use

People with a cocaine addiction may start taking the stimulant to be more efficient in their work, but prolonged use can lead to serious long-term effects. If not permanent, the damage cocaine can have on the body and different organs will take a long time to recover from. So let’s discuss some of the long and short-term effects of cocaine, what happens when you try to quit, and how addiction treatment can help.

Physical Dependency and Tolerance

In most cases of cocaine addiction, it starts as a way to be more active and alert. For people with stressful jobs that prevent them from getting enough sleep, cocaine seemed like a way to work at their maximum capacity.

But once the brain gets used to certain concentrations of a stimulant in the blood, it will require the same levels to continue functioning normally. In fact, the same amount of cocaine will no longer provide the desired euphoric effect you need. Consequently, you develop a tolerance, and need to take increased amounts of cocaine to produce the same ‘high.’

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine use

As you increase the amount of cocaine, it’s not just your brain that’s changing, but the rest of your organs as well. Long-term effects of chronic cocaine abuse include:

  • Frequent nosebleeds from snorting cocaine
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Breathing problem

But these are just the consequence of years of damage. Here’s how cocaine gradually affects different systems in your body, taking a toll on your physical and mental health.

Effects on the Heart

People with cocaine use disorder face a higher risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). It refers to the narrowing of the blood vessels due to plaque buildup.

The condition is a major risk factor for strokes and heart attacks. Moreover, people with CAD have a higher risk of experiencing sudden death. And if you’re overweight or have high cholesterol, the heart can experience further damage.

Aside from CAD, one study shows that people who use cocaine suffered from enlarged left ventricles as opposed to non-users. Results showed that they also had increased stiffness in the aorta. While such damage is a major risk factor for heart attacks, it can also contribute to an irregular heart rate. This can happen due to cocaine’s effect on the heart’s sodium and potassium channels.

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