What are the long term effects of using cocaine?

What Are The Long Term Effects of Using Cocaine?

Ingesting cocaine will create serious long term effects, both on the brain and on the body. Whether it is snorted, injected, or smoked, it has harmful, lasting effects that far out-weigh the short-term gains.

Effects To The Brain

Cocaine, in all its forms, is highly addictive. The first use creates the highest high, meaning that a user will never be able to achieve that same high again, no matter how many times they try. In fact, the brain adapts to cocaine and builds a tolerance, which means that each high is less effective than the previous. Drug users insatiably search for that first high, ingesting higher quantities more frequently in the process. Some of the long term issues include:


  • Cocaine Long Term Effectinability to enjoy natural highs of life
  • loss of interest in normal life activities
  • desperation for the next high
  • tolerance to lower quantities of substances
  • memories of the first high, causing cravings
  • high relapse risk
  • binging
  • anxiety, irritability, paranoia and panic
  • disorientation, confusion
  • discomfort, including aches, chills and itchiness
  • mood swings
  • restlessness
  • losing touch with reality due to psychosis


Because of the way cocaine enters the bloodstream and targets the brain, blocking the natural chemicals that create feelings of highs and lows, when a person is high on cocaine, they are enjoying the build-up of the blocked neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which are not being absorbed, therefore creating the high.

Effects To The Body

There are some long term effects that are inevitable no matter how the potent drug is ingested, and some that are specific to how it is ingested. Some of the general lasting effects of cocaine are:


  • intestinal issues: constricted blood vessels to the digestion system cuts off oxygen circulation, which can result in ulcers, gangrenous bowels, and even perforations in the intestines or stomach
  • high blood pressure: increased heart rates can put pressure on veins, which can cause heart disease, heart attacks, and arrhythmia
  • kidney failure: high blood pressure can lead to kidney failure
  • respiratory issues: blood pressure can contribute to lung and breathing problems, as can both snorting and smoking
  • strokes and seizures: constricted blood vessels in the brain can lead to seizures and violent behaviour, and strokes, even in younger people who aren’t usually at risk
  • malnourishment: cocaine users often experience a loss of appetite, since they crave the drug more than food. This leads to extreme weight loss and malnourishment in many users
  • sleep deprivation: many addicts experience loss of sleep because of highs and lows, and even experience hallucinations
  • sexual dysfunction: cocaine can cause sexual and reproductive issues in both male and female users, despite initial symptoms of heightened sexual arousal
  • depressing comedowns: when coming down from a high, addicts experience extreme lows that lead to depression and harmful behaviour
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