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Article Summary

Cocaine Side Effects

Cocaine side effects include but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Breathing rates
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Cold sweats
  • Convulsions
  • Damage to lungs
  • Damage to nasal cavities
  • Heart rates
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite leading to malnutrition and weight loss
  • Nausea
  • Possible heart attacks, strokes, or convulsions
  • Restlessness and anxiety
  • Swelling and bleeding of mucous membranes
  • Vomiting

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is derived from the leaves of the coca bush, which grows in South America. Widespread use and addiction led to government efforts against cocaine in the early 1900s. The danger associated with this drug was ignored in the 1970s and early 1980s, and cocaine was proclaimed by many to be safe.

With the accumulating medical evidence of cocaine's harmful effects and the introduction and widespread use of cocaine, the public and government have become alarmed again about its growing use. Even though the public is often regaled with highly publicized accounts of deaths from cocaine, many still mistakenly believe the drug, especially when sniffed, to be non-addictive and not as harmful as other illicit drugs. Those who inject the drug are at high risk for AIDS and hepatitis when they share needles. However, to many Americans, especially health care and social workers who deal with cocaine users and have witnessed the personal and societal devastation it produces, cocaine addiction is, by far, the most serious drug problem in the United States.

Immediate physical cocaine side effects include raised breathing rate, raised blood pressure and body temperature, and dilated pupils. There are many dangerous cocaine side effects one may suffer when using this drug. Cocaine has been known to cause heart attacks or convulsions within a hour after use. It does this by causing the coronary arteries to constrict, blood pressure rises and the blood supply to the heart diminishes. Chronic users and those with hypertension, epilepsy, and cardiovascular disease are at particular risk. Studies show that even those with no previous heart problems risk cardiac complications from cocaine. Increased use may sensitize the brain to the drug's effects so that less of the substance is needed to induce a seizure.

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