Side Effects of Cocaine

Side Effects of Cocaine

The main source of cocaine is from the leaves of the coca plant and it has been in use for thousands of years. Cocaine is a drug with high abuse potential and highly fatal to one’s health, hence it is not easy to access this drug as it was once in the 1980s. Cocaine addiction as of now is most prevalent among youths more than adults as recent study suggests. Cocaine is mainly used in three different way including snorting, smoking crystals or crack and injecting oneself with a mix of cocaine and water. Since it is a highly abused drug, it has major physiological and psychological side effects.


Why do People Ignore the Heavy Side Effects of Cocaine?

Cocaine has this ability to provide a certain sense of elation, a high which users are unable to find anywhere else. This feeling of “high” is what keeps them going and with time increased dosage of the drug is required as the body gets adapted to the usual amount and needs more amount of the drug to achieve the same sense of energy and “high”.


What are Some of the Most Common Side Effects of Cocaine?

When it comes to cocaine side effects, there are numerous as it has great potential to interfere in the psychological and physiological state of a human being. Here are some of the most common side effects of cocaine:

Chest pain is very common & deadly in heavy Cocaine users.
Chest pain is very common & deadly in heavy Cocaine users.
  • Chest pain, and even death when used in high levels

  • Paranoia

  • Dizziness

  • Dilation of pupils

  • Irritability

  • Loss of control over emotions

  • Hyperarousal

  • Unnecessary laughing in all circumstances

  • Constant positive state of mood in all places

  • False sense of greater control in life

  • Increase in sharpness of mind

  • Decrease in weight

  • Appetite loss

  • Constant flow of excitement even in inappropriate situations

  • Increased level of activity

  • Increased social activity

  • Increased pain tolerance

  • A false sense of self competency

  • A negative mood state will soon replace the positive mood state

  • Fickleness

  • Hypervigilance

  • A feeling of agitation at times

  • Teeth grinding

  • Ulceration of nasal septum

  • Psychosis

  • Paranoid schizophrenia

  • Disorientation

  • Confusion

  • Chronic runny nose


The eyes  appear red with large pupils of Cocaine users
The eyes appear red with large pupils of Cocaine users

Although the side effects of cocaine are adverse, there are certain co-occurring disorders that are equally bad and can be fatal at times if left untreated. In most cases of substance abuse additional behavioral and lifestyle problems that co-exist with the cocaine addiction are very common. Cocaine does impart some negative feeling after it has been used for quite some time, and to cope with that users generally get into other drug abuse to counter that feeling and get a better “high”. Some co-occurring disorders apart from usual side effects of cocaine are:

  • Opiate abuse

  • Cannabis abuse

  • Anti-social personality disorder

  • Gambling

  • Lowering count of white blood cells

  • Febrile neutropenia

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Benzodiazepine abuse

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults

  • Cardiac and pulmonary disorders


Why do the Common Side Effects of Cocaine Occur?

Cocaine affects the body in several ways, alters and stimulates its chemical constituents and hence the side effects of cocaine occur as a result of this psychological and physiological change. To fully understand why the side effects occur, especially paranoia and drug-dependency, it’s important to note what changes cocaine brings to the body. Cocaine alters the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain and this has severe implications on how messages are received and sent. The brain slowly starts to replace the effects of dopamine with that of cocaine and releases very little amount of this neurotransmitter. This gives rise to drug-dependency related to cocaine and is also responsible for the negative withdrawal effects of cocaine. This eventually becomes the cause of distress.

A study published in the Current Medicinal Chemistry Journal in 2012, looked at the relation between side effects of cocaine including multi-organ toxicity as well as pathological consequence of cocaine usage. This study reveals that cocaine usage has been linked to congenital diseases including cardiovascular ones along with malfunctions in the brain of offsprings with the biological mother being a cocaine abuser. It has also been linked to pulmonary disorders. Moreover, the use of chronic cocaine was associated with the left pumping chamber of the heart becoming thickened (ventricular hypertrophy), myocarditis, and even heart failure.

Cocaine Effect on the HeartAnother study published by the American Heart Association Journal in 1992, aimed to study the relation between abusive usage of cocaine and its acute effects on heart. It was found that cocaine abuse lead to increase in heart rate and blood pressure apart from the reduced flow of blood in the coronary artery, lead to myocardial ischemia. The only options left in such cases is using nitrates, alpha blockers and calcium blockers but a perfectly capable therapy option for cardiotoxicity resulting from cocaine abuse is not known. Results found that chronic use of cocaine lead acceleration of clogged arteries in the heart (atherosclerosis). The only known way to treat such disorders of the heart is with the use of calcium blockers and some other blockers at the moment, as no other probable treatment is available to directly outdo the side effects of cocaine has on the heart.

It can be easily deduced from the above mentioned studies that cocaine is definitely responsible for acute disorders related to the heart and the pathological consequences cocaine can have. It not only affects the user but can successfully lead to congenital heart diseases and other nervous system malfunctions in adults and even to unborn babies from their mothers who have used cocaine during pregnancy. It becomes conclusive that cocaine use does have a fatal effect on the body, especially the heart. So, if one does experience any sort of chest pain after using cocaine, then they should call an ambulance and seek medical advice immediately. Here are some helpful tips which can assist you to giving up the habit.


Drug Addiction Help



Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse – Current Medicinal Chemistry Journal – 2012 – By Riezzo, Fiore, De Carlo
Effects of acute & chronic cocaine use on heart. – American Heart Association Journal  – 1992 – By R A Kloner, S Hale, K Alker and S Rezkalla


Continue Reading