Cocaine Side Effects

Table of Contents

Cocaine (coke) is a powerful stimulant drug that triggers both short-term and long-term effects. The effects of cocaine become evident almost instantaneously and typically last for just 30 to 60 minutes. Some immediate cocaine side effects include intense euphoria, increased energy, heightened talkativeness, enhanced mental alertness, and decreased appetite.

In addition to these short-term side effects of cocaine, serious adverse effects of cocaine can occur over time. Prolonged or repeated use of cocaine can lead to detrimental physical, psychological, and social outcomes, including addiction in the form of stimulant use disorder.

Today, you will discover:

  • What are the side effects of cocaine?
  • Are coke side effects reversible?
  • What is the most dangerous side effect of cocaine?
  • How can you combat the negative effects of cocaine?
  • What is the best cocaine addiction treatment?
image of a man representing cocaine side effect

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine, a potent stimulant derived from the coca plant found in South America, is categorized as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high abuse potential and limited medical applications.

Initially, many people may find the short-term effects of cocaine use appealing. Short-term coke side effects include:

  • Euphoria: A sense of intense happiness or pleasure.
  • Increased energy: Heightened feelings of alertness and vitality.
  • Enhanced alertness: Improved focus and heightened awareness.
  • Reduced need for sleep or food: Temporary suppression of sleep and appetite.
  • Talkativeness: A tendency to engage in extended conversations.

Beyond these potentially desirable effects, cocaine use can also trigger short-term physiological and psychological changes, such as:

  • Abdominal pain: Discomfort in the abdominal region.
  • Anxiety: Feelings of unease or worry.
  • Dizziness: A sensation of lightheadedness or instability.
  • Increased blood pressure, body temperature, and heart rate: Elevated vital signs.
  • Hypersensitivity: Increased responsiveness to sights, sounds, and touch. 
  • Irritability: A tendency to become easily annoyed or agitated.
  • Nausea: An unsettled feeling in the stomach.
  • Paranoia: Extreme distrust or suspiciousness.
  • Restlessness: Difficulty sitting still or remaining calm.
  • Tremors: Involuntary shaking or trembling.
  • Volatile or violent behavior: Aggressive or unpredictable actions.

Side effects from cocaine can include significant and life-threatening medical complications, such as:

  • Coma: A prolonged state of unconsciousness.
  • Heart attack: Damage to the heart muscle due to reduced blood flow.
  • Irregular heartbeat or changes to heart rhythm: Cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Stroke: Impaired blood flow to the brain.
  • Seizure: Abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Becoming aware of the dangers associated with cocaine use can help if you or a loved one is battling with cocaine addiction or experiencing adverse side effects of coke. Timely intervention and evidence-based treatment can pave the way to sustained recovery and improved well-being.

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Prolonged or chronic cocaine use can lead to persistent alterations in the body and mind. Understanding these long-term effects can illuminate the potential risks associated with continued cocaine abuse. Some long-term effects may include:

  • Addiction: Cocaine has a high potential for addiction, and long-term use can lead to dependence, making it difficult to quit without professional help. This is arguably the most damaging effect of cocaine abuse.
  • Cognitive impairment: Chronic cocaine use can impair cognitive function, affecting memory, attention, decision-making, and overall cognitive abilities.
  • Cardiovascular damage: Cocaine can cause significant damage to the cardiovascular system, including an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Respiratory issues: Regular cocaine use can lead to respiratory problems, such as lung damage, respiratory distress, and an increased risk of respiratory infections.
  • Mental health disorders: Prolonged cocaine use is associated with an increased risk of developing mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.

Effects of Cocaine on the Body

Cocaine, whether in powdered or rock form (crack cocaine), can have profound effects on various systems within the body. Understanding how cocaine impacts the body can provide insight into the potential harm caused by long-term use. These are the primary side effects of coke on the body:

  • Cardiovascular system: Cocaine increases blood pressure, constricts blood vessels, and strains the heart, leading to cardiovascular complications, including heart attacks, arrhythmias, and damage to the heart muscle.
  • Respiratory system: Inhalation of crack cocaine can cause significant damage to the lungs. The intense heat produced during crack cocaine smoking can lead to acute lung injury and respiratory distress known as crack lung. In addition, chronic crack cocaine use can provoke severe respiratory issues, such as lung damage and an increased risk of respiratory infections.
  • Nasal health: Snorting cocaine can damage the nasal septum. Prolonged snorting can cause the septum (the thin wall separating the nostrils) to deteriorate, leading to a deviated septum, nosebleeds, chronic nasal congestion, and difficulty breathing.
  • Gastrointestinal system: Gastrointestinal issues, including abdominal pain, nausea, and decreased appetite are common cocaine side effects.
  • Nervous system: Cocaine affects the brain’s reward system, leading to addiction and disrupting normal brain function. This can result in cognitive impairment, mental health disorders, and changes in behavior and mood.
  • Skin and tissues: Frequent injections of cocaine can lead to skin infections, abscesses, and tissue damage at the injection sites.

Seeking professional help from addiction specialists and healthcare providers is the most effective pathway to long-term recovery and improved overall well-being.

A woman looks down to represent negative effects of cocaine

Risks of Long-Term Cocaine Use

Long-term cocaine use carries significant risks that extend beyond the immediate effects of the drug. Continued and chronic cocaine use can lead to a range of detrimental consequences, including addiction and the risk of overdose. Here are some of the risks associated with long-term cocaine use:

  • Addiction: Cocaine is a highly addictive substance. Long-term use can lead to the development of cocaine addiction, which is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior, cravings, and an inability to control or stop cocaine use. Addiction to cocaine can have severe negative impacts on various aspects of life, including relationships, work or school performance, and overall mental and physical well-being.
  • Physical health complications: Prolonged cocaine use can take a toll on the body and lead to various physical health issues. These can include cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Cocaine use can also cause respiratory problems, such as lung damage, respiratory infections, and difficulty breathing. Additionally, chronic cocaine use may result in gastrointestinal issues, including abdominal pain, nausea, and weight loss.
  • Mental health conditions: Long-term cocaine use is associated with an increased risk of developing mental health disorders. Cocaine can disrupt the brain’s reward system and interfere with normal brain function, leading to conditions such as depression, anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis. These mental health disorders can further exacerbate the negative consequences of cocaine use and impact overall quality of life.
  • Overdose: One of the most significant risks of long-term cocaine use is the potential for overdose. Cocaine overdose can occur when someone takes an excessive amount of the drug, triggering severe and potentially life-threatening symptoms. These symptoms may include chest pain, rapid heart rate, seizures, hallucinations, difficulty breathing, and even cardiac arrest. Cocaine overdose requires immediate medical attention and can be fatal if not treated promptly.
  • Financial and legal consequences: Sustained cocaine use can have serious financial repercussions. The cost of obtaining cocaine can quickly escalate, leading to financial strain, debt, and even legal issues related to drug possession or distribution. These consequences can further contribute to the overall negative impact on an individual’s life, relationships, and future prospects.
  • Social issues and relationship problems: Long-term cocaine use can strain relationships with family, friends, and loved ones. The compulsive drug-seeking behavior and associated consequences can lead to broken trust, conflicts, and social isolation. These relational difficulties can contribute to feelings of loneliness, and depression, and further exacerbate the cycle of addiction.

Treatment options for cocaine addiction include psychotherapy (CBT or motivational interviewing), group counseling, individual therapy, and holistic interventions. 

Remember: Immediate medical attention is essential in the case of a suspected cocaine overdose.

A woman sits looking out at a sunset to represent getting clean from coke side effects in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Get Treatment for Cocaine Addiction at Ohio Recovery Center

Are you struggling with addiction to alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs like cocaine? At Ohio Recovery Centers, we provide comprehensive addiction treatment programs to help you overcome your substance use disorder.

Research has shown that mild or moderate cocaine addictions can be treated just as well with intensive outpatient treatment as inpatient rehab. Our IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) offer flexibility and affordability without compromising the quality of care you receive. Choose from the following programs at our Cincinnati rehab facility:

  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs: Our IOPs provide structured treatment that allows you to receive intensive therapy while still maintaining your daily responsibilities.
  • Outpatient programs: Our outpatient programs offer ongoing support and therapy sessions that fit into your schedule, allowing you to continue your recovery journey while managing your daily life.

At Ohio Recovery Centers, our treatment programs combine pharmacological, behavioral, and holistic therapies. We utilize evidence-based approaches to address the underlying causes of addiction and provide you with the tools and strategies you need for long-term recovery. Our experienced professionals will equip you with relapse prevention strategies, coping techniques, and ongoing therapy options if needed.

Take the first step towards recovery by contacting our admissions team today at 877-679-2132. We’re here to provide immediate assistance and guide you on your path to a healthier, substance-free life.

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn