addiction drugs

How Does Cocaine Work?

Cocaine is a stimulant that is available on the street as a drug which produces euphoria and is highly addictive. Learn how cocaine affects the body and brain and the dangers and side effects of using the drug.

How Cocaine Works in the Body

When cocaine is inhaled, snorted or injected it enters the bloodstream and is delivered to the brain. Cocaine interferes with normal processes of the brain, flooding the pleasure-center of the brain with dopamine creating euphoria. Cocaine may stay in the urine for 2-4 days post use. Cocaine also impacts other systems of the body. Alertness and energy increase as do body temperature and heart rate. The cardiovascular system is impacted by the flood of chemicals which may result in a heart attack or stroke.

How Cocaine Affects the Brain and Nervous System

The central nervous system is directly impacted by cocaine use. Cocaine interferes with normal brain processes which creates dopamine level spikes in the brain. Some of the effects include:

  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Changes in behavior
  • Euphoric feelings
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness

How it Works

Depending on how the drug is ingested, it can begin working within minutes. Smoking crack will result in a high in seconds but snorting takes several minutes to work. Cocaine is not administered orally but takes 30 minutes to take effect. The duration of effects depend on how it is used. Snorting can create effects for 15-30 minutes. When smoked, effects may last only 5-10 minutes.

Increasing Effectiveness

Cocaine is most effective and efficient when snorted or smoked. Because so much cocaine is flooding the brain all at once, the methods of administration come with dangers to the nasal tissues and lungs.

As a drug, cocaine does not work for everyone. Taking cocaine is always risky when not sued for medical purposes as street cocaine is often mixed with other drugs or potentially toxic substances. Using cocaine opens up an individual to potential health problems but it also brings up risks of addiction and overdose. Cocaine is highly addictive and dangerous for most people who use whether it is one time or consistently. Finding help at an inpatient or outpatient rehab center is the best way to overcome addiction to cocaine.

Chronic Use

Chronic cocaine exposure affects many other areas of the brain. Diminished functioning in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) appears to underlie the poor decision-making, inability to adapt to negative consequences of drug use and lack of insight demonstrated by individuals addicted to cocaine. Over time, the brain may suffer long term consequences and irreversible damage to the orbitofrontal cortex as a result of abuse.

Cocaine is a detrimental drug with devastating consequences. Treatment for addiction can be effective when an individual wants to get better. If you or a loved one are ready to quit using cocaine, call The Villa for help. Let us support you on your path to recovery.