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Long Term Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine can be very dangerous, even when abused in the short term. However, long term abuse of cocaine has its effects as well. Cocaine abuse and addiction in the long term will cause problems for a person’s mental and physical health as well as all other aspects of his or her life.

Long Term Effects of Cocaine on the Brain

According to the NIH, cocaine has been found to “decrease… the activity of the brain over time.” This is why cocaine abuse is so dangerous and affects the brain so strongly, especially when the drug is abused over time. “Even ten days after the last abuse of cocaine, the levels of activity in a drug abuser’s brain are much lower than those in the normal brain,” and even a hundred days after the last use of cocaine, a person’s brain is still not up to its former capacity. The NIH states that “scientists wonder if there are areas of the brain that never fully recover from the effects of drugs,” especially the longer they are used.

A person who abuses cocaine in the long-term might experience these issues with the brain, including:

  • Strong cravings which last months or years after the person stops taking cocaine
    • According to the NIDA, studies have shown “the memory of the cocaine experience or exposure to cues associated with drug use can trigger tremendous craving and relapse to drug use.”
  • Irritability
  • Mood disturbances
  • “Auditory and tactile hallucinations” (CESAR)
    • Withdrawing users often experience the hallucination of coke bugs, which seem like bugs burrowing under the skin of the person.
  • Psychological withdrawal symptoms such as:
    • “Extreme fatigue”
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Cravings

Long Term Effects of Cocaine on the Body

cocaine abuse effects

Cocaine abuse can significantly impact your life in a very negative way.

The NIDA states, “Different routes of cocaine administration can produce different adverse effects.” Depending on how you take cocaine, you may experience certain issues over time, such as:

  • Snorting cocaine can cause anosmia, or the loss of the sense of smell. It can also cause nosebleeds, hoarseness, and problems with swallowing.
  • Injecting cocaine can cause track marks, allergic reactions, and other issues based on the impurities in the drug.
  • Ingesting cocaine can cause “severe bowel gangrene, due to reduced blood flow.”

Cocaine also causes users to lose an extreme amount of weight over time. The drug suppresses their appetites, making them feel like they don’t need to eat. It can bring about malnourishment, and many users can require hospitalization for this issue.

In the long term, cocaine can also cause an increased risk for heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and seizures. Many chronic users experience strong and frequent headaches, and “sexual dysfunction in both males and females” also occurs.

Long Term Effects of Cocaine on Your Life

Users who abuse cocaine in the long term often become addicted. They can “quickly develop a tolerance to the drug, needing more of the substance to achieve the desired effects” (CESAR). This can lead to overdose and other issues.

Addiction can also cause problems in your home life, destroying relationships and sometimes causing them to become unsalvageable. People often experience issues at work which can lead to them getting fired, and the illegal status of cocaine can cause a user to get arrested. These outcomes all become more likely the longer a person abuses cocaine.