If you or someone you love has struggled with addiction, getting the help you deserve can be challenging. What’s more, not everyone struggles with addiction the same way. Different substances can cause different problems and be difficult to identify. Perhaps you think someone close to you is struggling with cocaine, and now you want to know how you can tell. How does cocaine affect the body, and what does cocaine do to your body?

What is Cocaine?

To understand how cocaine affects the body, you need to know what it is and where it comes from. Cocaine is a stimulant that comes from the coca leaves of a South American plant. Although it can be used for things like local anesthesia, most people who struggle with drug addiction use illegal cocaine that comes in a white powder. 

How Does Cocaine Affect the Body?

When people first take cocaine, whether by snorting it, injecting it, or rubbing it onto their gums, they experience an immediate high because of how cocaine affects the body and the brain.

So, what does cocaine do to your body?

Cocaine can cause many problems in the body like nausea, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, and restlessness. But, the short-term effects immediately after taking cocaine include extreme happiness and energy, hypersensitivity to touch or sound, and mental alertness. Some people find that taking cocaine helps them perform simple mental and physical tasks much more quickly, or it gives them a level of mental cognizance they believe they can’t get otherwise.

How does cocaine affect the brain?

Cocaine increases the natural levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a chemical related to reward. When, for example, you complete a work task effectively and receive direct praise. As a result, it releases positive chemicals like dopamine to reinforce good behavior. Your exercise produces endorphins like dopamine to reinforce the positive impact when you work out. The more reinforcements you get for a particular activity, the more your brain will turn to that activity to get the release of dopamine.

Once your brain releases dopamine, it gets recycled back into the same brain cell that released it. Then it shuts off the signal between the nerve cells.

Under normal circumstances, dopamine would be released when you do something like exercise, and then it would be recycled back into the brain cell and turned off. So you would only get to experience a limited amount of dopamine under a controlled length of time. However, with cocaine, that ability to recycle dopamine gets cut off. 

Cocaine prevents that recycling, so the dopamine builds up in your brain and literally floods your brain with positive reinforcement after taking drugs. The more you take cocaine, the more this positive reinforcement is renewed. What’s more, you become less sensitive to cocaine, so you find it challenging to achieve the same level of dopamine with the same moderate amount of cocaine. This causes people to take more frequent doses and more potent doses to get the same positive feeling.

What are the Signs of Cocaine Use?

Knowing how does cocaine affect the body is only part of getting help. The other part is recognizing the signs of cocaine use in yourself or your loved ones. 

Common signs of cocaine use include:

  • Physical signs like a loss of appetite, dilated pupils, sudden overconfidence or overexcitement, regular runny nose
  • Behavioral signs like a sudden shift in mood, not engaging with friends or family anymore, no longer participating in hobbies, being constantly irritable or depressed, missing work or other obligations regularly without an excuse
  • Financial signs like money problems, stealing, not having enough money even if they make enough money or recently got paid, legal trouble

How to Find Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Once you learn to recognize how cocaine affects the body and the main signs of drug abuse, you can recommend help for a loved one or find help for yourself. With Total RMH, we don’t limit our approach to detox. Cocaine has one of the longest periods of cravings and a high risk of relapse. For that reason, we focus heavily on targeting the mind and the body as one. To achieve this goal, we use therapies like NAD IV or IV vitamin therapy and nutritional therapy to give your body the essential vitamins and nutrients it was missing. We help undo the neurological damage that cocaine has done with things like neurofeedback and long-term withdrawal management.
If you or someone you love is struggling with cocaine, contact Total RMH today.