Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant that has significant affects on the brain and has an extremely high potential for drug addiction.
A highly addictive substance, Cocaine is a powerful stimulant derived from the leaves of the Coca plant native to South America. It is usually seen in a powdered form, as a powdered hydrochloride salt which is most commonly snorted, although it is also dissolved and injected.
Crack is another form of cocaine – this is a crystalline form of cocaine which has not been treated with acids to produce the familiar powdered form. Crack cocaine is heated and the vapors produced inhaled to produce an intense high, much as with the practice of “freebasing” which preceded the large scale production of Crack cocaine.
Cocaine is a stimulant. Like other stimulants, cocaine works on the central nervous system to stimulate the production of dopamine in the brain. It is dopamine which produces the “high” of the drug. This chemical is produced naturally by the brain in response to certain stimuli; but cocaine works by preventing the reuptake of dopamine, which intensifies the pleasure signals the chemical produces.
This disrupts normal brain function and produces a feeling of euphoria. However, habitual use of cocaine essentially rewires the brain, causing physical addiction. It actually can change the physical structure of the brain. In addition to producing addictive patterns of behavior, regular users of cocaine experience an increased tolerance to the drug so that larger and larger amounts are needed to produce the same sort of euphoric state. Along with this comes a much higher risk of severe physical and psychological effects.
How Does Cocaine Negatively Impact Health?
Cocaine abuse has a number of different negative effects on physical health. Cocaine causes the pupils to dilate, blood vessels to constrict and an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. The drug can also cause digestive problems including nausea and abdominal pain, as well as headaches. Cocaine addicts may also have a tendency towards becoming malnourished, since the drug is a powerful appetite suppressant.
The negative health impacts of cocaine may vary with the method of ingestion. Snorting cocaine can cause nosebleeds, hoarseness, a runny nose and a loss of one’s sense of smell. Injecting cocaine exposes users to the risk of contracting HIV and other diseases if they share needles; allergic reactions are also not uncommon in cocaine-injecting users.
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Cocaine users can also run the risk of gangrene in the bowels due to reduced circulation. Heavy regular use of cocaine can cause anxiety, irritability and paranoid though patterns. Some cocaine users even experience psychotic episodes, sometimes developing into an actual paranoid psychosis.