Cocaine belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants, which tend to give a temporary illusion of limitless power and energy that leave the user feeling depressed, edgy, and craving more. When ingested, it stimulates the central nervous system and increases energy while raising heart rate and blood pressure. It is considered a “feel-good” drug and is often favored for its tendency to enable partiers to stay awake and active for long hours.
While cocaine’s effect is rapid, it quickly abates and leaves the body. Not surprisingly, the faster the drug is absorbed, the more intense the resulting high, but the effect is short lived. Within a few minutes of snorting cocaine a person feels a euphoric rush and excitability that can peak within 20-40 minutes. Conversely, smoking the altered cocaine known as crack can bring on extremely intense effects within a few seconds, but peaking in as little as five minutes. The short duration of the high often leads users to binge in an attempt to prolong the effect.
While cocaine brings on euphoric effects, it also brings with it a host of physiological effects that can be detrimental over time. Short-term physiological effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels; dilated pupils; and increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
While the drug is preferred by recreational users for its euphoric effect, some cocaine users report experiencing anxiety, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic, and even paranoia. These effects manifest themselves in behaviors that are erratic and indicators of usage. Some users may also experience tremors or muscle twitches sometimes referred to as being “wired”.
High doses can lead to side effects including hostility, anger, or other negative and aggressive behaviors. Habitual users can experience paranoia, anxiety, anger, and hallucinations. All are indicative of long-term use.
For habitual or high dosage cocaine users, significant medical issues are not uncommon. The most frequent are cardiovascular events, including disturbances in heart rhythm and heart attacks. Beyond cardiovascular risks, habitual users also risk neurological effects, including headaches, seizures, strokes, and coma.
In extreme and rare cases, first-time users have died as a result of the physiological changes cocaine brings.