Cocaine - Effects And Consequences

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Cocaine - Effects And Consequences
Cocaine - Effects And Consequences
Video: Cocaine - Effects And Consequences
Video: 2-Minute Neuroscience: Effects of Cocaine 2023, February

Cocaine: Effects & Consequences

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca bush and processed through various chemical processes. In powdered form (coke, snow), it is sniffed through the nose using a tube (sniffed line, coke, sniff). After further processing, cocaine can also be injected (intravenous consumption, syringes) or smoked (cocaine base, crack). Consumption is associated with, among other things, severe health risks - acute and chronic damage can have a massive impact on the body and psyche.


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  • How does cocaine work?
  • The cocaine rush
  • Acute effects
  • ">Chronic use & high dosage


  • Cocaine & addiction


How does cocaine work?

The effect depends, among other things, on the form and dose in which the drug is consumed. It is often stretched by various means. In addition, the individual response to cocaine is essential. The sometimes simultaneous consumption of other substances such as alcohol or heroin also plays a role.

Depending on how it is used, the substance is absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, lungs and bloodstream - and broken down through the liver. The drug gets to the brain quickly. Cocaine and its breakdown products can be detected in the urine. Further information can be found in the laboratory values ​​table under Cocaine / Urine.

Cocaine has a strong stimulating effect on the psyche and constricts the blood vessels (increase in heart rate and blood pressure). It also has a strong local anesthetic effect - that is, it has a local and temporal anesthetic effect (pain-numbing).

The cocaine rush

A cocaine intoxication can be divided into three phases:

  • When the intoxication begins, euphoria, excitement, hyperactivity, chattiness, increased attention, increased vitality and performance, social and sexual disinhibition, increased libido, insomnia, etc.
  • After the euphoric feelings, fear, tension, hallucinations and paranoid delusions appear.
  • When the intoxication subsides, "lows" with depressive tendencies appear. Dejection, tiredness, exhaustion, listlessness up to paranoid disorders and suicide (thoughts) characterize this phase among other things.

Acute effects

The consequences for the body and psyche are to be expected with cocaine consumption - sometimes severe. The consumption influences, among other things, consciousness, mood, cognition, libido and feelings of hunger and thirst, but also the cardiovascular system and organs.

Acute complications range from relatively harmless symptoms such as dilated pupils, restlessness and anxiety, to cardiac arrhythmias, circulatory disorders (in the worst case heart attack), cerebral haemorrhage, cramps, coma, respiratory and cardiac arrest, kidney and liver failure. Life-threatening situations can arise, especially when smoking and injecting, and especially with high doses. When mixed with other psychotropic substances (e.g. alcohol, methadone, heroin), those affected run the risk of serious consequences. Mixing heroin and cocaine (“speedball”, “cocktail”) is particularly dangerous.

In addition to long-term, high-dose consumption, initial consumption can also be life-threatening - for example, through overdosing.

Note A cocaine overdose (severe cocaine poisoning) is an intensive care emergency and must be treated accordingly (emergency number 144 or 112!) For more information, see Alcohol & Drugs: Poisoning.

Chronic use & high dosage

Chronic and intensive use in high doses has a particularly negative effect. There are psychological changes. Restlessness, overexcitation, irritability and aggressiveness as well as disorders of coordination and much more are possible phenomena. Fears and confused thoughts show up. High doses and chronic use are associated with mood disorders, personality disorders and schizophrenic tendencies, among other things. Delusions and hallucinations can occur (cocaine psychosis).

In physical terms, chronic or intensive consumption manifests itself through weight loss, susceptibility to infections and damage to the nervous system or the brain, which can be seen in concentration problems and reduced memory. The serious consequential damage includes, for example, cerebral seizures. Serious effects also affect the cardiovascular system (strokes, changes in cerebral blood flow, insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart, cardiac arrhythmias), eyes, liver and lungs (e.g. as a result of smoking crack). There is a risk of life-threatening damage, especially in the medium and long term. Chronic consumption also leads to a loss of libido or sexual dysfunction.

Sniffing cocaine can permanently inflame the nasal septum. A breakthrough or “becoming holey” as well as the loss of the sense of smell occur.

Injecting cocaine with non-sterile needles can transmit infectious diseases (HIV, hepatitis B and C). Inflammation of the puncture sites and bacterial inflammation, for example of the inner lining of the heart (endocarditis), can also be one of the consequences.

Cocaine & addiction

There is a risk of dependency, especially with continued consumption. This is usually expressed by compulsive consumption (craving, the strong desire for the substance). An increase in the dose can also be noticeable, as regular use can lead to habituation to cocaine (tolerance development). Developing addiction to cocaine is possible after a relatively short time.

The euphoric effects, hyperactivity etc. of cocaine take place in a short period of time. However, those affected want to maintain or regain these effects, which they experienced as pleasant - and take the drug in high doses and at relatively short intervals.

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