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What Cocaine Does to Your Body

May 1, 2023


A cocaine user recognizes the moment the drug enters their bloodstream, yet might not truly understand its effect on their body. Beyond the initial intense feelings and high energy, the harm being done to you through cocaine use can be severe and long-lasting. So let’s look at what cocaine does to your body, some potential side effects, and treatment for this substance use disorder.

Cocaine is a serious drug with dangerous side effects and health risks. While its short-term high can seem appealing, it’s essential to keep in mind that addiction and overdose are very real risks of regular use. From the physical damage to your cardiovascular system to the mental impacts of long-term use, cocaine’s consequences should not remain a mystery to you. If you are struggling with ending cocaine use or experiencing withdrawal, Hanley can provide specialized treatment for your individual needs.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

The short-term effects of cocaine use can be incredibly intense, both physically and mentally. When it’s snorted or smoked, cocaine causes a rush of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that regulates the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. This rush results in an intense euphoria lasting anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on how much cocaine is consumed. Unfortunately, this high comes at a higher cost, with a wide variety of short-term effects that may include restlessness, agitation, increased heart rate, raised blood pressure, and even tremors, seizures, or heart attacks. Anyone experiencing these kinds of short-term effects should seek medical attention right away. 

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use

Long-term cocaine use can harm your health and threaten your job, career, relationships, friendships, financial independence, community standing, and more. Prolonged use of the drug can damage your heart, lungs, and brain. You may suffer seizures, heart attacks, and respiratory failure due to long-term cocaine use. It can also affect your mental state, causing mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Ultimately, any of these outcomes alone or in combination with others can result in a need for hospitalization or death. 

Cocaine’s Impact on the Cardiovascular System

Cocaine can have severe and lasting impacts on your cardiovascular system. Use of the drug significantly increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The strain on your cardiovascular system can lead to a range of problems, including chest pain, heart attacks, and even sudden cardiac death. Long-term cocaine use can cause irreversible damage to the heart and blood vessels, leading to chronic cardiovascular disease. If you’re suffering from any of these conditions and still using cocaine regularly, you’re continuing to risk permanent damage to your organs or death. 

Risk of Cocaine Overdose

The temporary burst of energy and a sense of euphoria associated with cocaine can lead people to using higher amounts of the drug at one time or use it more often. Whether you’ve snorted cocaine before or not, the risk of overdose is always present. It could come from a higher tolerance after regular use or using cocaine with a higher potency than expected. Overdoses of this drug can lead to seizures, heart attacks, and potentially fatal strokes. Signs of a potential overdose after cocaine use can appear as dangerous heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature increases. The threat of death is also present when the cocaine “is cut” with and includes fentanyl. Fentanyl is a Schedule II opioid analgesic with a potency approximately 50 times greater than heroin and 100 times greater than morphine. Fentanyl carries a high risk of overdose and can be deadly at doses as low as 2 milligrams, and overdoses involving cocaine and fentanyl are on the rise.

Get Help at Hanley

Cocaine addiction is a challenging battle to endure, but you never need to face it alone. Hanley provides treatment programs for men and women with a history of cocaine abuse. We can help you regain control of your life and start on the road to recovery through a medical detox and treatment personalized to your needs. If drug use has compromised your vital organs or created a chronic condition, we can meet your medical needs while in treatment. Simultaneously, we’re equipped to provide dual diagnosis treatment when someone using cocaine has unmet mental health needs. 


Hanley is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1296.

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