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Long Term Cocaine Side Effects

As one of the most powerfully, addictive substances in existence, long term cocaine side effects can develop within a relatively short period of time compared to other addictive drugs. The phrase “burning the candle at both ends” best exemplifies long term effects of cocaine for regular users.

Cocaine’s mechanism of action works in an aggressive fashion, forcing the brain to release abnormally high levels of neurotransmitter chemicals. Anyone who’s used this drug for months or even weeks at a time can attest to the state of fatigue that sets in and stays for as long as a person keeps using.

Long term cocaine side effects quickly materialize, taking the form of physical dependency and eventual psychological dependency, also known as addiction. Even in cases where a person has stopped using for months or years at a time, long term cocaine side effects can still make it difficult to maintain abstinence on a day-to-day basis.

Cocaine’s Mechanism of Action

Cocaine belongs to a class of psychoactive drugs known as stimulants. Psychoactive drugs are known for their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and access the brain’s workings. Stimulant-type substances in particular stimulate or speed up central nervous system functions by triggering the release of certain neurotransmitter chemicals.

Long term cocaine side effects actually start to take root as of a person’s first dose of the drug. Like most other psychoactive agents, cocaine has a cumulative effect on brain functions, which works to weaken and break down the brain’s cell structures over time.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine side effects take shape as the brain’s chemical levels and processes become more and more imbalanced from continued use. Not surprisingly, the more out of balance chemical processes become the more control cocaine has over the brain’s regulatory functions.

Physical Dependency

Cocaine’s damaging effects on brain structures breed a dependency cycle in which the brain requires increasingly larger amounts of the drug to function normally. In effect, actual brain damage takes shape because of the ongoing strain placed on brain cell functions.

Under these conditions, users become prone to chronic relapsing for years after they’ve stopped using. Long term cocaine side effects essentially “rewire” brain processes and warp brain structures to the point where it can take a number of years before the brain returns to normal. In some cases of chronic cocaine use, brain damage effects may be permanent.

Psychological Dependency

cocaine abuse effects

Cocaine use can cause psychosis and other psychological harm.

Over the course of ongoing drug use, cocaine side effects become most pronounced within the brain’s reward system. According to Bryn Mawr College, this system regulates learning processes and, for the most part dictates what motivates a person’s behaviors and routines.

Cocaine side effects on the brain’s reward system accounts for this drug’s high potential for addiction. Once addiction sets in, motivations involving work, family and most anything that detracts from drug use falls by the wayside.

With continued use, users will likely develop any number of physical and psychological disorders, some of which include –

  • Psychosis
  • Heart problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

Ultimately, long term cocaine use destroys the physical and chemical processes that enable normal functional capacity, leaving users in a diminished state of physical and psychological well-being.

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