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Article Summary

Medical Complication of Cocaine

Like many other recreational drugs, cocaine also come with many dangerous and adverse effects. They include both physiological and psychological side effects with a potential to become fatal. The severity of the adverse effects is often related to the dose and frequency of usage.

Medical Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine stimulates the nervous system and induces experience of euphoria, energy and a sense of well-being in its users. It also increases physical competence and provides endurance and stamina. As a common side effect, paranoia, anxiety and restlessness are also associated with cocaine use.

Medical Complications of Cocaine

Medical complications of cocaine could be fatal or non-fatal. It is estimated that at least 15000 deaths occur in the US due to cocaine complications. Many of these are sudden deaths arising from heart failure and other complications. People who combine cocaine with alcohol and smoking are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular ailments. Pregnant women and teenagers who are addicted to the drug also tend to be at the risky side. Sudden deaths are known to have occurred to seemingly healthy people due to the hidden dangers of cocaine abuse.

Another factor to consider is that latest studies suggest that even a single use of cocaine could result in potentially deadly side effects. All these make cocaine a deadly drug and a silent killer.

• Cardiovascular Complications

Studies conducted all around the world conclude that cocaine is a potent drug which causes extensive damages to the heart. The result is heart failure and heart attacks which causes sudden deaths. One such study conducted among 30 cocaine users found that 80% of them have definite structural changes in the heart like thickening of the heart walls, tissue scarring and swelling.

Among the deadly side effects of cocaine, heart ailment takes a prominent place. Cocaine constricts the blood vessels which result in reduced amount of oxygen flowing into the heart. The different heart conditions in cocaine users include:-

  • Heart Attack
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy (Heart enlargement)
  • Vascular Thrombosis (clots in blood vessels)
  • Heart Failure
  • Myocarditis (Inflammation of the heart muscle)
  • Endocarditis (Inflammation of the heart lining)
  • Arrhythmias (Increased heart rate)

• Pulmonary diseases

One of the most common ways to consuming cocaine is through inhalation which is the main cause for pulmonary diseases in user. Major pulmonary complications attributed to cocaine use are:-

  • Pulmonary Edema(swelling in the lungs)
  • Pulmonary hemorrhage
  • Asthma
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterance

Inhalation through nose has many adverse effects on the sinus also. Nasal perforation and sinus problems are common among cocaine users. Due to the decreased blood flow, the thin nasal membranes could easily become inflamed. Chronic users may develop ulcers in their nostrils. Symptoms of nasal problems include chronic nose bleeds, nasal congestion and even frequent sneezing.

The lungs of the cocaine users tend to be less capable of carrying proper amounts of oxygen than normal people. They are also susceptible to acute pulmonary syndrome known as 'crack lung'. This is mainly caused by snorting freebase cocaine and may lead to coughing blood and chest pain.

• Neurological Complications

One of the common side effects of cocaine seems to be headaches. It is caused either by consuming cocaine or when the usage is abruptly stopped. Since cocaine constricts the blood vessels, sufficient amount of oxygen is not carried onto the brain. This results in seizures and strokes which could be fatal.

• Gastrointestinal Complications

Many young people who are habitual users of cocaine develop ulcers in their stomach and intestine. This is due to the fact that cocaine reduces appetite so they consume less amount of food. And it is also due to decreased blood flow.

• Pregnancy complications

Using cocaine during pregnancy may induce many medical complications for both the baby and the mother. These include pre-term delivery, lower birth weight, abortion and other abnormalities in the baby.

• Psychological Complications

Chronic cocaine users tend to be aloof and are prone to depression. Individuals who are long term cocaine users eventually become loners and lose their touch with reality. They show bizarre, violent behavior and also tend to have psychosis and paranoia. They lose interest in leading normal life and undergo complete lifestyle changes. Suicides, murder and accidents are common among chronic cocaine users. Chronic drug users are considered to be a social nuisance in many communities which adds to their woe.

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