The Mental And Physical Effects Of Cocaine Use

Cocaine use has been on the rise in recent years, and it is estimated that there are around 24.6 million users worldwide. Once only associated with the wealthy, its powered form has crept into the pub scene in a big way and has almost become as commonplace as drinking alcohol in some areas. Hospital admissions for mental health disorders linked to it, have almost trebled in the past decade, and the problem has become so widespread that in some countries it has been found in the waterways, causing adverse effects on aquatic life.

It is a powerful stimulant, and when purchased it is typically a fine, white powder that is snorted. Crack cocaine comes in the form of a rock that is smoked, also known as freebasing. Although the two are identical in terms of their pharmacology, the effects of crack cocaine are stronger, increasing the risk of addiction. Also, the law generally treats crack possession more severely than powdered one, placing you at a higher risk for sentencing if caught. It can also be injected and this is arguably the most dangerous way to use the drug.

Effects on Mental Health:

People with a tendency to develop psychosis or schizophrenia are more likely to trigger this condition if they use it in powdered or freebase form. Its use is strongly linked to depression because the drug directly interferes with dopamine being reabsorbed by neurons in the brain. Its comedown is almost always accompanied by depression, but ongoing use can result in permanent depression and may require mental health treatment. Some of its key effects on mental health include:

Up to 84% of users experience anxiety and paranoia. This can lead to feelings of intense fear and apprehension, which can be debilitating.

Its prolonged use can trigger psychosis, characterized by symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking. This can significantly impact daily functioning and relationships

Its use is associated with an increased risk of depression and suicidal ideation. In fact, cocaine has been found in 18-22% of suicide cases, highlighting the potential for severe mental health consequences

Cocaine-induced psychiatric symptoms can contribute to violent and aggressive behaviors. Up to 55% of patients with such psychiatric symptoms exhibit violent behaviors.

Its use has been linked to homicidal acts. In some cases, up to 31% of homicide victims test positive for cocaine, underscoring the potential for serious criminal behavior.

Many users also have co-occurring psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depression. These conditions can worsen with constant use, leading to a cycle of worsening mental health.


Physical Effects:

Its use can lead to loss of smell, irritation of the nasal septum, sniffling, nosebleeds, and hoarseness. Using cocaine elevates vital life functions, such as blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate – putting strain on the organs and cardiovascular system. Severe consequences can include blood clots, strokes, heart attacks and seizures. In conclusion, the physical health consequences are wide-ranging and potentially life-threatening. Seeking professional help is crucial for addressing the damaging effects of this highly addictive substance.

Signs of Cocaine Dependence:

It is a highly addictive substance, and it’s easy to overstep the line between dabbling and addiction. Below are three red flags to look out for:

It is not a cheap drug and is often synonymous with financial problems. Look to the book to see where your cash has been going, and if you have been avoiding financial commitments in order to use it, this is cause for concern.

It causes alertness and the inability to sleep while on the drug. However, if your sleeping patterns are disturbed for long periods when not using, it is an indication of the disturbance of your circadian rhythms and is a serious warning that your usage is getting out of control.

Prolonged recovery periods from cocaine use are an indication that there is a problem. Most of the withdrawal symptoms of its use are psychological. These can include irritability, insomnia, and depression. If at any point you are experiencing suicidal ideation during a comedown, this is a serious red flag and you may want to reach out to an experienced addiction counsellor. 

Recovery852 assists individuals and families struggling with addiction and other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Our primary goal is to help clients break free from harmful behaviours and to shift from a life of chaos, conflict, and crisis to recovery and wellness. Contact us now.