Cocaine use affects an individual both physically and psychologically. How exactly it works has been researched to discover the ways it produces its pleasurable effects and reasons for the addictive properties. Both the brain and body are impacted when a person ingests cocaine. Here are some things to consider when understanding the way cocaine is processed in the body.


The Brain

When a person uses cocaine for the first time, pleasurable feelings of excitement and elation along with joy are experienced. The second time cocaine is used, the same effects will not generally be produced. Rather, an individual may not experience the same high or feel as good the second, or even subsequent, times. The brain will make more neural transporters to deal with the influx of dopamine. As a result, the new transporters create a shorter, less effective high from the drug.


Over time, dopamine decreases because transporters move the dopamine back to the brain where it is stored until the next time it is needed. When dopamine is allowed to flow freely about the brain, a person can feel happiness and an overall sense of well being. The brain’s neural system is most affected by cocaine in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Nerve cells in the VTA extend to a region of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens, one of the brain’s pleasure centers. This explains why the brain releases dopamine and people who use cocaine experience levels of excitement and joy which can eventually burn out these parts of the brain and cause permanent damage.


The Body

A person using cocaine will experience a decrease in the size of the blood vessels. The individual’s heart will beat at a faster rate and experience elevated blood pressure. Less blood and oxygen is then able to reach the organs. Body temperature will also increase at the same time. Snorting cocaine through the nose makes the areas constrict and get smaller which can cause damage and scarring. Over time, the cartilage which separates the two sides of an individual’s nose may bleed or a hole may develop which needs repair. When the drug is inhaled, snorted or injected, the bloodstream takes it and delivers it to the brain. A stimulant, cocaine can also increase feelings of alertness and energy. The cardiovascular system is greatly impacted by cocaine use which puts people at risk of heart attacks and strokes.


Central Nervous System

The other part of the body affected by cocaine use is the central nervous system which can cause some of the following effects:


  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • behavioral changes
  • feelings of euphoria
  • paranoia
  • restlessness


Cocaine travels into the bloodstream within minutes of ingestion or inhalation. Smoking the “crack” form of cocaine can produce a high in mere seconds. The duration of time the effects last go anywhere from 15-30 minutes when snorted, less when smoked.

There is help for addiction to cocaine. Contact representatives at Hired Power who are here to help answer questions and offer information on treatment programs.

Call today at 800-910-9299.