Cocaine is a drug which is popular throughout the Western world. People like to use cocaine because of the effects it gives them, including feelings of euphoria and invincibility. But cocaine is also a highly abused drug, which can cause the user to experience intense short term and long term symptoms. The nature of cocaine's effects is such that after the initial "high" which can be extremely euphoric, the user usually suffers a depressing crash. This crash leads the user to use again, initiating the cycle of cocaine abuse. But far from only having effects after long term use, researchers are beginning to signal that cocaine use may begin to affect the user's brain from the very first time they try the drug.
CAN SINGLE USE HAVE LONG TERM EFFECTS?
Cocaine is used in various forms, with the two most popular being the powered form, which is usually snorted nasally, and the "rock" form -called crack - which is usually smoked. While many people assume that a person must use cocaine various times before they do long term damage to their minds and bodies, a recent study conducted by the UC San Francisco's Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center suggests that the effects of cocaine usage begin after the user's first experience with the drug. In a study, which was conducted on lab mice, the brains of the mice showed significant changes after just one dose of cocaine was administered. This suggests that there may be no "safe" number of times that one can use cocaine.
LONG TERM EFFECTS
Cocaine is very addictive, and as a result has dangerous long-term side effects. Though many people focus only on the physical side effects, which will be discussed below, it should be noted that a cocaine addiction can have serious effects on the personal lives and relationships of addicts. People who become addicted to cocaine often lie to and steal from their loved ones in order to support their habits, burning the bridge of trust.
SOME OF THE LONG TERM PHYSICAL SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE:
- High blood pressure - which can cause heart attacks and stroke
- Damage to blood vessels and heart
- Brain damage
- Destruction of nasal tissue
- Damage to liver, kidneys, and lungs
- Problems related to function of sexual organs
Due to the high cost of a cocaine addiction, it is no surprise that addicts usually wish to get clean and permanently stop using the drug. This is an admirable goal, but it is not always easy. When a person begins using cocaine, their brains may develop a dependence on the drug. This dependency is what keeps the person using, and also what makes it hard to quit. Those who attempt to quit cocaine often report undergoing difficult withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Cravings for the drug
- Mood swings
The most difficult of these symptoms is probably the craving an addict feels when they stop using the drug. These cravings can last for months, and are the top reason why those who try to quit often fail.