The long term effects of cocaine addiction can be life-threatening if you do not manage them properly. You see, prolonged cocaine abuse comes with a detrimental effect on vital organs. Vital organs like the brain, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, the heart and even the immune system may suffer some damage.
People addicted to cocaine do not only suffer physical but also emotional and mental damages. Hence, it is of high importance that you understand the dangers associated with cocaine addiction. More importantly, you should know how to treat the long term effects of cocaine addiction.
In this article, we discuss the effects of cocaine addiction on the major organs of your body. Furthermore, we discuss the physical effects of cocaine abuse and why you need cocaine addiction treatments. Before we delve into that, here is what to know about cocaine addiction.
What is Cocaine Addiction?
Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug found in coca leaves. Until recently, coca leaves were chewed by people of South America. It is said to have incentive effects. Owing to medical advancements, extracts of cocaine from the leaves can be purified and used medically.
This purified cocaine is an active ingredient in tonics and it is used to treat a variety of diseases. Cocaine has a way of blocking pain impulses to the brain. Hence, making it important for surgeries.
Neurons secrete dopamine into synapses, acting as chemical messengers, carrying signals from one neuron to another. Dopamine is responsible for your feelings, excitation and your ability to make decisions. Another protein takes dopamine out of the synapses to avoid accumulation. When cocaine addicts use the drug, it enters your bloodstream binding with dopamine in the synapses and encouraging its accumulation. This produces an amplifying effect.
This is the reason for the euphoria you will experience after taking the drug. To continue experiencing that same euphoria, most people keep on abusing the drug. Their bodies begin to depend on the substance. So much so that a reduction in the amount of substance use can cause a malfunction of your body system. At this point, cocaine addiction has set in.
Physical effects of cocaine abuse will include weight loss, tired looks, violent behaviour, restlessness and panicking. If you experience any of these, seek cocaine addiction treatment in Vancouver.
Related article: You’ll See What Really Happened with Cocaine Addiction
Long Term Effects of Cocaine Addiction
You may start experiencing the effects of cocaine almost immediately after a dose. These effects can last for a few minutes to as many as three hours. These are the short term effects. They include:
- Mental alertness
- Constricted blood vessels
- Increased body temperature
- Dilated pupils
- Increased blood pressure
- Touch and sound
However, with prolonged abuse of cocaine, your brain begins to depend on the substance. A dependence on the substance increases your body’s tolerance to the drug. As a result, higher doses of cocaine will be needed to reach initial levels of excitement.
With repeated higher doses of cocaine, you may begin to experience the long term effects of cocaine abuse. The long term effects of cocaine addiction affect vital organs directly or indirectly. These effects can be severe, and sometimes irreversible.
Below, we discuss the long term effects of cocaine addiction on some vital organs of your body.
Effects on the cardiovascular system
The cardiovascular system refers to the heart and blood vessels. With cocaine usage, there is an elevation in your heart rate and blood pressure. This comes with high energy, stress and anxiety.
However, with regular repeated doses, you increase your risk of:
- Heart attack
- Chest pain
- Heart attacks
- Heart muscle dysfunction
- Sudden death
The heart is the major organ affected when you abuse cocaine. Cocaine overworks your heart and makes it age faster. The end result of cocaine addiction on your cardiovascular system is death.
Effects on the immune system
Another major long-term effect of cocaine addiction is the impairment of immune cell function. After intoxication, your decision-making ability will be compromised.
Due to intense cravings, some addicts are most likely to trade sex for drugs. They even go ahead to share needles for intravascular administration of cocaine. Sharing needles, as it is known, is a potential mode of transmission of HIV.
Additionally, cocaine users have increased viral load and risk of a co-infection, HCV (Hepatitis C Virus). This increased overload is tied to the fact that cocaine enhances the replication of both HIV and HCV. HCV causes liver complications and increases the risk of liver cancer.
Effects on the gastrointestinal tract
Cocaine causes a reduction in blood flow. As a result, other organs are affected indirectly. The stomach and intestines are not excluded from these side effects. Long-term effects of cocaine addiction on the gastrointestinal tract include:
- Stomach pain
- Reduced appetite
However, with time, these side effects can get worse. Then, you may start experiencing ulcer pains and the death of important tissues in your gastrointestinal tract. In very severe cases, there can be injuries and inflammation of the large intestine. This is termed Ischemic Colitis.
Effects on the brain
During cocaine intoxication, there is a constant production of dopamine in the brain. Over time, your brain will adapt to not having to produce this neurotransmitter naturally. Due to this decline in production, as a long-term effect of cocaine addiction, you will begin to experience depression, restlessness and psychosis.
In reducing blood flow to the body, cocaine reduces blood flow to the brain. Thereby, reducing the amount of oxygen the brain receives. Other possible long-term effects of cocaine abuse on the brain include:
- Brain shrinking
- Aneurysm, a rupturing of vascular walls feeding the brain
- Cerebral vasculitis, an inflammation of blood vessels in the brain
- Muscle weakness
- Mood disorders
Furthermore, cocaine causes ageing of the brain increasing your risk of dementia. For others, who have risks of developing dementia, cocaine may hasten the process.
Effects on the respiratory system
Snorting cocaine is one method of using the substance. The average addict snorts cocaine through the nose where it is absorbed via nasal tissues. Under prolonged exposure, cocaine ruptures the nasal septum and causes bleeding.
But that is not the only route of administration. Cocaine can also be smoked. In smoking cocaine, it can be absorbed via the lungs directly into the bloodstream. But this can destroy the alveoli and carbon-oxygen exchange is affected.
Additionally, cocaine addicts develop eosinophilic pneumonitis also known as “crack lung”. Symptoms include:
- Black sputum
- Raised body temperature
- Increased presence of white blood cells
Cocaine Addiction Treatments
Cocaine addiction treatment programs recognize that cocaine addiction is complex. So they focus on treating changes in the brain under close supervision.
There are multipl cocaine addiction treatment services in Vancouver where you can make enquiries. Depending on your unique situation, professional treatment will include any of the following treatment options:
- Counselling sessions
- Detox treatments
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Holistic therapies
To Wrap It Up
In this article, we discuss how cocaine binds with neurotransmitters in our brain to prevent clearance. Furthermore, we have been able to highlight the physical effects of cocaine abuse on vital organs like the brain, the stomach, the heart and the immune system.
We have also discussed the long-term symptoms of cocaine addiction. Finally, cocaine abuse also affects your mental and emotional wellbeing. This is why we emphasize the need for professional cocaine addiction treatment.
If you’re not sure how to go about it, speak to an experienced cocaine addiction therapist today — free of charge. Contact Inspire Addiction Rehab center in Vancouver today!