Cocaine Side Effects | Short & Long-Term Side Effects Of Cocaine

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 4, 2022

Cocaine use causes a number of serious short-term and long-term side effects that can range from increased energy and euphoria to cardiovascular problems, mental health issues, withdrawal, and overdose.

Cocaine is an illicit stimulant drug that comes as a paste, a rock-like substance (also known as freebase or crack cocaine), and a white powder. 

Cocaine is a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to physical or psychological dependence.

Those participating in cocaine abuse by snorting the drug, smoking, eating, plugging, or injecting cocaine directly into a vein of the body can experience a number of serious and life threatening health problems.

Short-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use

The side effects of cocaine take place due to how cocaine affects the brain. As a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, cocaine increases the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), some of the short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • euphoria
  • dilated pupils
  • energetic
  • increased heart rate
  • increased body temperature
  • panic
  • irritability
  • constricted blood vessels
  • sensitivity to light

Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine Abuse

There are a number of long-term side effects a person may experience due to cocaine abuse including weight loss, lack of blood flow, and bowel decay.

Cardiovascular Problems

Those who abuse cocaine long-term may experience a number of cardiovascular health problems. Cardiovascular damage can lead to severe chest pain or a heart attack. In addition to this, strain on the heart muscles can lead to cardiac arrest or death.

Mental Illness

Cocaine drug use can cause one to experience extreme anxiety and depression. Cocaine can affect those with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder.

Long-term use of cocaine may lead to psychosis, hallucinations, and paranoia. This mood instability can result in irritability and aggressive behavior as well as depression.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine substance use can lead to a dependence on the drug. When dependency takes place and one tries to abruptly stop taking the drug, serious withdrawal symptoms may occur.

NIDA states that the following are symptoms of cocaine withdrawal:

  • extreme cravings for the drug
  • fatigue
  • slowed thinking
  • depression
  • increased appetite
  • sleeping problems

Cocaine Overdose

For those who take large amounts of cocaine, a potential overdose can occur. Some of the symptoms of a cocaine overdose include:

  • paleness
  • fever
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • loss of bladder control
  • irregular heart rhythm
  • high blood pressure

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), cocaine is involved in 1 of every 5 overdose deaths. If you suspect a loved one has overdosed on cocaine, contact 911 immediately.

Methods & Effects Of Cocaine Use

Cocaine can enter the body in a number of ways. Snorting or injecting the drug can lead to a higher risk of an overdose. Each route of administration can cause serious side effects.

Snorting Cocaine

Those who have a cocaine addiction may snort the substance to achieve a faster or greater high. If this occurs, severe damage can be caused to the nose and nasal passageways.

In fact, someone snorting cocaine can develop the following:

  • loss of sense of smell
  • damage of the septum or the development of the deviated septum
  • chronic runny nose
  • frequent nosebleeds
  • difficulty swallowing

Smoking Cocaine

Smoking cocaine can cause harm to your lungs, resulting in a persistent cough and breathing troubles. This type of drug may also result in a higher risk of developing pneumonia, asthma, and other issues involving smoking cocaine.

Injecting Cocaine

If a person injects cocaine directly into their body through intravenous injection, the effects of the drug may be greater. In fact, repeated use of cocaine in this manner may result in scarring of the skin, including abscesses, collapsed veins, and bacterial infections.

Those who inject cocaine and share needles with others may have a higher risk of contracting certain diseases such as hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Abusing cocaine causes a number of health concerns. If you or a loved one are suffering from drug addiction, our healthcare representatives can help you find the best cocaine treatment options for you.

To learn about our inpatient treatment program, please contact us today.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration — Cocaine
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse — What are the Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse — What is Cocaine?
  4. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine Intoxication
  5. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine Withdrawal
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — Know the Risks of Using Drugs

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Let us walk you through the treatment process. We're here to help.
For 24/7 Treatment Help:
100% Free & Confidential. Call (419) 904-4158
(419) 904-4158