Harmful Side Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine Addiction

It can be shocking to think of your child using cocaine and other harmful drugs. Unfortunately, cocaine is all over in the streets and children are using it without knowing the damage they are causing to their health. Cocaine is a strong addictive stimulant obtained from the leaves of the coca plant.  During processing, it is mixed with other substances like glucose and lactose.

It is available in three different forms; white powder also referred to as cocaine hydrochloride is more common in Australia. It is consumed through inhalation or injection.  ‘Freebase’ which rare and has ‘Stardust’ and ‘Blow’ as its slang names is another form of cocaine.  Most users snort the powder or rub on their gums.

It is processed by combining ammonia. The user heats to produce vapor which he/she smokes just like a cigarette. Another name for ‘Freebase’ is crack coca from the act of crackling when burnt prior to smoking.  Crack cocaine is produced using baking powder and has many impurities. After snorting it quickly gets into the bloodstream through the nasal passages.

If one snorts, the effects can last between 10-15 minutes, whereas for injection the effect can only be felt for around 10 minutes.  Excessive snorting of cocaine can damage the nasal passages and lead to nose bleeding or loss of sense of smell.  However, even a slight use of the drug can damage your nasal cavity and make swallowing a challenge.

With the rapid growth in technology, teenagers are able to buy drugs such as cocaine from the internet. Also, the older siblings and friends make it accessible to them.  Normally, as you take your child to school they are very innocent and don’t know anything that can make them relax apart from sleeping or taking a rest.

However, as they interact with other peers who probably use cocaine and other drugs, they get dragged and end up getting into drugs. Teenagers are more vulnerable to peer pressure since they fear isolation and losing their friends. This makes them do anything in order to fit in their groups.  The adolescent age is a gap of self-discovery that entails growth socially, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Reasons why Teenagers use Cocaine

Cocaine Addiction

Many people think that teenagers who use cocaine and other drugs are ‘bad kids.’  However, teenagers experiment drugs because of many things.  It could be they are overwhelmed at school and got no one to talk, they might be influenced to consume by their friends and many others. Also, sometimes as parents and guardians we contribute by creating an environment for drugs when we use them in the presence of our babies.

Many parents assume that children use drugs because they are rebelling and want to lash out.  Although this may be one of the reasons, few teenagers take drugs to rebel.  For a parent to understand their child well, they must first put themselves in their shoes and try to figure out what they could be going through.

It can be hard to know the exact problem bothering him/her, but you can tell if they are stressed.  Understanding is the first and most essential step in helping any person.  Talk to them without being judgemental and promise to help.  The following are some reasons why adolescents use cocaine and other drugs;

  1. Peer pressure

We all hear about peer pressure and think that it can never happen to our kids.  But one of the main reasons why children experiment cocaine and other drugs is because of pressure from their peers.  However, many parents know that it is a strong influencing force in the use of drugs, but since it is popular, people underestimate it. At any age, one can be influenced to use cocaine, but teenagers are more at risk since making right decisions is still a problem for them.

As they try to grow and discover themselves, saying no to their peers can be tricky. They always want to be accepted by their friends. if one refuses to snort or smoke cocaine they might be rejected, humiliated or laughed at by their peers. In most cases, it happens during common situations such as parties when they want to feel part of the gang.

  1. Now or never

Most adolescents have that notion of try everything while they are still young.  They feel like it is like ‘now or never’ situation.  We have to experiment with drugs and alcohol before we grow and have responsibilities.  One feels like if they don’t take it now, they will be lacking something. Additionally, teenagers feel like it is nothing to experiment everything once or twice when we can.

  1. Misinformation or lack of information

It is so sad that some teenagers, due to society and maybe parents, grow up knowing that drugs use is a normal thing.  They watch them in movies, TVs, read about them in magazines and newspapers.  Drugs and alcohol are usually presented as harmless and are cool since they help one to relax. The media constantly portrays drug, alcohol, and prescription drugs as a normal thing, leaving teenagers with an impression that addiction is not as hell as they have probably read.  It makes them more curious to try and encourages those that are consuming them.

Cocaine and other drugs use affect your health and your school grades. If you are addicted to drugs, it is very important to seek professional help to assist you to recover from drug abuse.

  1. Low self-esteem

Between the ages of 14-16 years, teenagers suffer from low self-esteem because of their physical appearance and lack of friends.  Also, if a child is not performing as they would wish, they can lack confidence which can cause self-destructive behavior.  The society, media, and sometimes family put pressure on children to act or appear in a certain way. If a teenager doesn’t meet those standards, they lose their confidence. Drugs help them run away from such feelings.

  1. Stress

In high school, students are usually overstressed by advanced classes, extracurricular activities, and exams.  According to a study conducted by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 73% of teenagers use drugs because of stress from school.  Unfortunately, only 7% of parents and guardians believe that children can use drugs to deal with stress.  Parents severely underestimate the effects of stress on their children’s decision to consume drugs.  When they lack skills to cope up with pressure from school they turn to cocaine, marijuana, and other substances to assist them to relax.

  1. Boredom

Every person gets bored, but adolescents have more reasons than adults getting bored. Puberty and hormones responsible for growth in the brain such as gonadal steroid hormone cause symptoms like restlessness, boredom, and anxiety. Boredom leads to strong decisions and awkward behavior that mostly involves the consumption of drugs.  Once they realize that a drug can make them relax and feel better, they immediately get attached.  Giving teenagers added responsibilities or extra-curricular activities to keep them busy such that they will not have time to think about drug use can be a preventive measure.

  1. Escapism

Some children grow up in extreme poverty conditions, others in a bullying, and bad neighborhood.  They experience a trauma every day or are in an abusive family.  Others are stressed and bored because of large workloads and high expectations from parents and society. All these make them use drugs as escapism; to run away from all those hard feelings.  A poll conducted across the US on high schools showed that averagely a student goes home with 5 hours homework daily, approximately 17 hours weekly.  Children who are exposed to stressors such as poverty, abuse from family or friends, and heavy workloads are more prone to drug use as escapism.

  1. Rebellion

The same growth hormones that cause restlessness and anxiety can push teenagers to rebel.  Teen rebellion is genetic and natural.  It is part of adolescent growth and development and is an identity that shows separation between a parent and their own child.  Besides, some children take to the extreme by using drugs and alcohol as a way or rebelling against their parents and authorities.

  1. Genetics

Drug abuse can be genetically passed. If there is a history of drug consumption in the family, there is a high likelihood that the teenager will abuse drugs and alcohol.  Although bad choices are part of teenage growth, you can’t blame it on the child’s genes especially if they have not been educated on the relationship between drug use and genetics.  If you have a history of drug addiction in the family, be open and honest with the teenager. Let them know the risks involved in substance use.

  • Weight loss

Female teenagers are sometimes possessed by their weight. They end up turning into cocaine to help them lose weight.  Especially in high school, girls are extra cautious about their weight and can be desperate to slim down in order to attract the attention of other teenage boys.  Also, they may be having anorexia and bulimia, co-occurring eating disorders.

Consequences of Cocaine use

Cocaine is an addictive drug that increases alertness and energy levels.  It is illegal and has other names such as coke, snow, rock, blow, and crack.  It is available in different forms, but the common is white powder.  The powder can also be processed to form a solid crystal rock.  Most people who consume cocaine usually snort the powder into their nose, rub it on their gums or dissolve it in water and inject it in their blood vessels using a needle.  Other individuals heat up the solid rock crystal and inhale the smoke into their lungs.

It falls into the class of stimulants, thus it works by stimulating the brain and body.  The effects of cocaine vary from person to person, but it is mostly depended on how it is consumed, whether one has combined it with other substances, the quantity used, size, weight, and health condition of the user.  Although no amount of cocaine that you can state that it will not harm the user.  Even prescriptions from the doctors are harmful and should be taken cautiously.  Consequences of cocaine are both short-term and long-term.

Short-Term Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine produces short-lived but intense effects which are followed by a crash characterized by strong depression, anxiety, and strong cravings for the drug.  Individuals who consume the drug often struggle with lack of enough sleep and lack of appetite.  Immediately after taking cocaine, one may experience;

  • Feelings of euphoria which involves unusual happiness, positive feelings, and increased attentiveness.
  • The sense of wellbeing and feelings of invincibility.
  • One becomes more talkative and might have a dry mouth.
  • Increased libido and more need to have sex.
  • High breathing rate and insomnia.
  • Anxiety and panic.
  • Paranoia and enlarged pupils.

Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine is a powerful brain stimulant and as soon as a person consumes a single dose, they risk themselves to a cocaine overdose.  Any person can suffer from an overdose, whether a first time user or a daily user. Many overdoses occur as a result of the urge to take more cocaine, despite the presence of the initial effects. Other people want to try large amounts of cocaine in their first experimentation.

The euphoric effects of cocaine are short-lived which makes users consume more and more as they chase the feelings.  They even don’t realize how much cocaine they have taken. As one takes the drug back-to-back, it gets into high and deadly levels since the body can’t metabolize it as fast as one takes.  The person’s brain becomes far too much stimulated leading to high blood pressure, increased breathing rate etc.  The following are some symptoms of cocaine overdose;

  • A person becomes unaware of the surroundings.
  • Extreme mood swings.
  • Panic attacks and paranoia.
  • Dizziness or fainting.
  • Tremors in the arms and legs.
  • Extreme high blood pressure.
  • Irregular heart rate.
  • Extreme high body temperature and psychosis.

A cocaine overdose quickly accelerates to deadly levels. Immediately you suspect that a person is overdosing, ask for emergency services instantly.  Consuming cocaine with other drugs puts the user at a risk of overdose.  Heroin and alcohol are two common drugs that are combined with cocaine.

Cocaine Addiction

Alcohol and cocaine mixture creates a toxic chemical known as cocaethylene which causes severe heart injuries and sudden deaths.  Through a practice known as ‘Speedballing,’ cocaine and heroin are injected together.  As cocaine stimulates the body, heroin depresses it. This makes the body systems to struggle between the two states.

Long-term Effects of Cocaine

The longer the period a person uses cocaine the more severe the effects of cocaine on their health, brain, other body parts, and their life in general.  Severe addiction is one of the long-term impacts of cocaine. The body gets used to the euphoric effects of cocaine and one can no longer obtain happiness naturally.  There are various health impacts of cocaine, some of which are not reversible like liver cirrhosis.  Long-term effects include;

a.) Alteration of the functioning of the metabolic system

According to research done by the University of Cambridge, cocaine use affects how the metabolic system works. Cocaine presence in the body makes the metabolic system to process food quickly and more efficiently. This is how it helps in weight loss.  Many models claim that their major motive to use cocaine is to keep slim.

Nevertheless, when one stops using cocaine, that effect disappears and a person feeds heavily that causes excessive weight gain.  To patients going through the recovery process, this can trigger a relapse or cause depression. Individuals at rehabs are taught how to accept their physical appearance caused by the metabolic imbalance.  People should not consume cocaine as a tool for weight management since as one slims, more severe impacts awaits them in the future.

b.) Destroys the nasal cavity

In most cases cocaine is consumed by snorting, hence its effect on the nasal cavity.  People, who experience overdosing, may suffer from nose bleeding and later a permanent loss of the sense of smell. Exposure of the delicate tissues of the nasal cavity to cocaine may cause an irreversible damage.

Elements found in the substance damage the walls of the nasal cavity causing a nasal septal perforation or in simple terms, deformity of the nasal cavity. The damage spreads down to the mouth and the throat, complicating one’s breathing system and the ability to eat.

c.) Brain damage

Although many scientists claim that cocaine use for a long period affects the nasal cavity largely, others state that the brain suffers severely than any other body organ.  The increase in energy and alertness after taking cocaine is a reflection of the brain reacting to the stimulative impact.  Scientists state that cocaine in the blood triggers the neurons in the brain’s learning center also known as the amygdala to transmit a signal to the ventral subiculum, brain’s ‘addiction center.’

This occurs after every single intake of cocaine.  After some time, the amygdala gets used to the productions of the signals and produces dopamine constantly.  Dopamine is the brain chemical that is responsible for positive feelings and pleasure.  The constant presence of dopamine in the body makes it hard for one to feel the effects of cocaine with their usual dosage.

d.) Effect on the Cardiovascular System

Cocaine use impacts the cardiovascular system in various ways.  It constricts the blood vessels thus inhibiting the good supply of blood to the body.  This causes microvascular disease which can lead to death. Cocaine blocks channels that transmit sodium and potassium nutrients.  It also influences the secretion of adrenergic hence affecting blood pressure and heart rate.

Combining cocaine with other drugs like cigarettes can cause vasoconstriction.  Systolic and diastolic dysfunction or the abnormal filling of the hearts chambers is also caused by the presence of cocaine in the blood.  This causes arrhythmias; irregular heartbeat. Consuming the substance while having any heart condition complicates all the above effects.

e.) Cocaine addiction

Although not every person who uses cocaine gets addicted, it is believed to be a very strong addictive drug. Therefore, you should not risk, as just a single use can be addictive.  Consuming the substance can cause tolerance and dependence rapidly.  Tolerance implies that one will require more cocaine than they used for them to experience the same feelings.

With repeated consumption, the body becomes dependent on it.  Addiction is when there is a strong force compelling one to take the drug despite the troubles it is causing. The following are some signs of cocaine addiction;

i. Making cocaine use a priority in your life. If you find that you can do anything in order to be able to use the drug including borrowing money or selling things to get money to support your cocaine use, you are already addicted and need medical help.

ii. Neglecting responsibilities either at home or at work. One would rather spend time with their friends whom they consume the substance with than with their families.

iii. Loss of relationship due to behavior that crops up due to cocaine use such as irritability, anger, and constant urge to have sex. One can get divorced by a partner or lose child custody.

iv. Problems with the legal system, since cocaine is an illicit drug.

v. One keeps on using regardless of the negative effects.

The Process of Cocaine Detox

Quitting cocaine use is the only sure of avoiding such terrible consequences. However, one should not withdraw from cocaine without seeking assistance from a specialist. The withdrawal symptoms can be painful and can either lead to a relapse or worst, death.  Detox is the process of allowing the body to get rid of cocaine. Although, it is painful medications and therapies are administered to ease the pain.

Some withdrawal symptoms include depression, intense restlessness, over-sensitivity to any stimulation, nightmares, abnormal drowsiness, body aches, muscle spasms, and many others.


Cocaine is a stimulant that easily accessible to everybody. Its use among teenagers is increasing daily. Teens use the substance for various reasons such as peer pressure, stress, environment, availability, and many others. However, cocaine has detrimental effects on a person both health wise and family wise. It can lead to damage on the brain, nasal cavity, and other organs of the body.  Although some cocaine impacts are irreversible, quitting and getting treatment could save your life.