We know that cocaine, like other illicit substances, affects users both physically and mentally, but what does cocaine do to your brain in specific terms? Folks who may have given up hope will now have other treatment options to explore. If you have more questions on the topic of what does cocaine does to your brain, be sure to reach out to our experts at 626-602-2966. They can provide detailed answers, as well as helping find the addiction treatment that you or a loved one need to get on the path to a drug-free future.
Cocaine is a Powerful Stimulant
Cocaine is a potent stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant. Even though healthcare providers may use it for some valid medical purposes, cocaine is an illicit substance.
Studies performed on animals show that chronic exposure to this drug can cause severe neural adaptations. Most interestingly, they found that these changes affect glutamate neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter is a chemical that helps relay information between cells. The amounts of glutamate found in the brain’s reward pathway indicate the possibility of reversing the neural adaptations mentioned. Simply put, this system may help in the development of anti-addiction medication.
This development is especially interesting because these neural adaptations are the same ones that contribute to the misuse of cocaine. As one misuses the drug over time, they began to develop a tolerance. This increased tolerance causes excessive amounts of dopamine to build up in the brain, leading to many detrimental side effects, from stress to manic episodes. That’s what makes the findings of the study so promising. It provides hope that with continued research, these breakthroughs may lead to new addiction medication developments.
As a street drug, it comes in the form of a white crystal powder.
Many manufacturers and dealers mix it with other non-illicit substances. For example, cornstarch and flour are mixed in, and this is to increase profits. Some even go as far as to cook it into crack. After the drug gets cooked, it is then mixed with baking soda as the substance cools. Lastly, some who used it turns it into what is known as freebase. Freebase is the process of reducing the drug to its base form. They do this in hopes of getting a more pure form of the drug.
Street Names for Cocaine
Nevertheless, these are not the only ways people alter it. They also mix the drug with various forms of amphetamine. Others who use it may even resort to mixing it with heroin to amplify the effects.
The street form of the drug goes by many different names. For instance, we have listed the most common ones below:
There are many other names. But it should be clear that those who push this substance often try to play on its white powdered form. They want to make the drug sound appealing to those who misuse it—ultimately hoping to get them to disassociate the substance from negative consequences.
Next, we will look at how the individuals who misuse the substance take it. There are many different ways to use cocaine. However, the most common way is by snorting it up the nose.
As if that’s not scary enough, some people resort to smoking the substance. Ingesting the drug in this manner produces a much more intense high.
The previously mentioned altered form of the drug, crack, also gets ingested by smoking. Furthermore, some who struggle with cocaine addiction resort to injecting the drug. Injecting might be the most alarming method since unclean needles can lead to AIDS, hepatitis, and other infections.
Are you worried about someone in your life abusing cocaine? Are you yourself being affected? Call us today and we can help get you on the right tracks. Never feel judged or ashamed for giving us a call. We only want to help turn your life around for the better.
Cocaine Affecting the Brain
Most research concerning cocaine effects on brain chemistry has focused on the brain’s reward system. It is clear the substance also affects pathways in the brain. These pathways are responsible for handling stress.
This relationship with stress can have many negative consequences. For instance, those struggling with relapse because of cocaine abuse treatment usually have high levels of stress. These pathways are separate from the reward pathway. However, research shows an essential overlap in a part of the brain known as the ventral tegmental.
This area seems to act as a critical integration site, relaying information about stress and drug cues to other brain areas. These cues are important because studies show that animals who received cocaine repeatedly were more likely to seek the drug in response to stress. And the more of the drug they have taken, the more this stress affects their behavior. This finding suggests that cocaine heightens stress hormones after a certain point. In short, experts believe that cocaine affects the brain chemistry. The chemistry rewires the brain, and this makes users less capable of coping without the drug.
Ways to Ingest Cocaine
- When snorting cocaine, the effects begin within a few minutes. They usually peak within 15 to 20 minutes. Then disappear in a few hours. Cocaine reduces our need to eat, sleep, and complete other health functions. Ultimately this can lead to changes in behavior and mood.
- On the other hand, smoking freebase produces a much shorter and more intense high. These effects typically last about two to three minutes. This amount of time is because inhalation is the most direct way of delivering the substance to your brain. It causes a considerable amount to hit the brain at once. The large amount leads to an increased risk of misusing the drug. It can also lead to many health risks—for example, confusion and other psychological problems.
- Crack produces many of these same effects when smoked. But with even more rapid onset, creating what is known as a “flash high.” Flash highs happen when cocaine reaches the brain in less than 10 seconds. It produces a three- to five-minute high. This high is followed by an unpleasant crash, leaving the user more irritable and agitated than before. Then it motivates the user to take more with both positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement. It can produce addictive behavior exceptionally fast. Also, reports show that the first high is always better than those that follow. This first high motivates them to recreate it continually. A cycle begins in which using the drug only enhances the craving for more of it.
- Injecting cocaine produces the quickest effect. It takes only 30 seconds to kick in. This effect usually peaks around five minutes after injection. But it can last up to 30 minutes. Although those numbers seem to be the least alarming, we must keep in mind the other dangers. Injecting any drug can lead to a running list of complications. For example, hepatitis, AIDS, and other infections caused by dirty needles.
Don’t suffer in silence. Call us today and we can help you get on the road to sobriety. Do not hesitate. We can help you get the proper treatment needed for your situation.
Short-Term Effects of Abusing Cocaine
Hopefully, it is becoming clear that many severe medical conditions are associated with cocaine use. Some of the most frequent are cardiovascular illnesses. These sicknesses can include disturbances in heart rate and even heart attacks.
For instance, below are some other effects of abusing cocaine:
- Extreme happiness
- Mental alertness
- Hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
- Excessive and unreasonable distrust of others
- Constricted blood vessels
- Dilated pupils
- Raised body temperature and blood pressure
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Tremors and muscle twitches
However, the most alarming consequences maybe the list of neurological effects associated with the drug. These include seizures, strokes, headaches, and comas.
In rare occurrences, a single use of cocaine is enough to cause instant death. Many cocaine-related deaths are the result of cardiac arrest or seizures. This may be because many users of the drug mix it with other drugs, including alcohol. This is especially dangerous because when cocaine interacts with alcohol, they produce what is known as cocaethylene. This increases the toxic effects of both substances on the heart.
The combination of cocaine and heroin is also hazardous. Users combine these drugs because the sedating effects of heroin offset the stimulating effects of cocaine. However, this can lead to taking a high dose of heroin without realizing it. Because cocaine’s effects wear off sooner, this can lead to heroin overdose. The user’s breathing slows down or stops, ultimately leading to death without immediate treatment.
Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use
As we have seen previously, the immediate effects of cocaine can be extremely detrimental. Continued use of the drug only exacerbates this. Let’s take a look at some of the chilling long-term effects of cocaine use.
Many chronic users of the substance report a loss of appetite leading to significant weight loss and even malnutrition. The cardiovascular effects also worsen over time. This leads to inflammation of the muscle in the heart, deterioration of the heart’s ability to contract, and even aortic ruptures. Below are some of the most common long-term factors associated with each method.
Do not let the long-term effects of cocaine use control your life. We can help you get the right treatment that you need to stop any effects you are experiencing. Our team of experts are standing by ready to assist you in starting your healthier and happier life today.
Regular Cocaine Use Can Lead to:
- Loss of smell
- Frequent runny nose
- Problems with swallowing
All of these are the side effects of just one of the manners in which the drug gets ingested. Next, we will take a look at the long-term effects of smoking.
Smoking Cocaine Regularly Can Lead to the Following:
- Respiratory issues
- Higher risk of infections
As previously stated, those who inject cocaine may be at risk for more long-term conditions. We have listed some of the common ones below.
Injecting Cocaine Regularly Can Lead to:
- Higher risk for contracting bloodborne diseases such as HIV
- Skin or soft tissue infections
- Scarring or collapsed veins
Hopefully, now it’s clear that continued use of cocaine comes with the potential for many health conditions.
Break Away from Your Addiction
On the one hand, you may be asking yourself what this means to me. But on the other, you may be in tears because you are noticing some of these patterns in a loved one.
It is no secret that cocaine damages many parts of the body. For instance, taxing the cardiovascular system to wreaking havoc on the central nervous system. Cocaine misuse comes with a list of mental and physical ailments. So how does cocaine affect the brain? In fact, the answer to this question gives us reason to be hopeful. The same neural adaptations that lead to many adverse conditions can be further studied to help find new methods of care. The very mechanisms that reinforce cocaine addiction may hold the key to beating it for good.
In short, if you need assistance with cocaine addiction then call us today. We will be able to provide you with the proper tools needed to help break away from this habit. Do not wait. We can give you a happier and healthier life that you deserve.