Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse
The misuse of cocaine can have far-reaching consequences on your relationships, finances and overall social and emotional well-being. While it is possible to reverse some of this damage, people who develop a dependency on cocaine can experience negative effects years later. What should you expect if you or someone you love is using cocaine?
The Dangers of Cocaine Use
Sadly, U.S. overdose deaths from cocaine have been on a steep upward incline in recent years – up 34% between 2016 and 2017 – thanks largely to the introduction of a potent opioid called fentanyl. Drug dealers often cut their product with fentanyl to make the supply last longer and to create more potential for addiction in their users. However, people who unknowingly take a drug that has been laced with fentanyl are much more likely to die of an overdose because of how powerful fentanyl is.
Even if cocaine addicts do not succumb to an overdose, they are still at a higher risk of health issues such as the following.
- Cardiovascular system problems: Because cocaine is a fast-acting stimulant, immediate side effects of its use include an elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Cocaine is incredibly addictive because of the quick, intense high it produces, but the euphoria comes with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, blood clots, heart arrythmia, chest pains and death of the heart muscle. Even years after getting clean, former cocaine users can have persistent hypertension.
- Respiratory difficulties: Cocaine also affects the respiratory system because snorting or smoking drugs can destroy the delicate mucous membranes inside the nose and mouth, leading to nosebleeds and sinus infections. After prolonged use, some abusers develop a hole in their septum. People who smoke cocaine in crack form are at particular risk for a condition known as “crack lung,” a form of inflammation that leads to chronic coughing, wheezing, painful breathing and a higher risk of lung infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.
- Brain damage: Thanks to the way cocaine restricts blood vessels, a user’s brain can fail to get an adequate supply of oxygen. A longtime user of the drug can suffer from periodic mini-strokes, seizures, brain shrinkage, poor decision-making skills and mood disorders. Some evidence suggests cocaine use also prematurely ages the brain, leading to Alzheimer’s-like symptoms of memory loss.
How to Get Help for a Drug Addiction
The more often someone uses cocaine, the more likely they are to begin experiencing these adverse health effects. Without immediate treatment, an addiction can worsen and leave a user a shadow of their former self. Luckily, with the appropriate help at a qualified cocaine rehab facility, users can get clean and sober, and learn how to remain that way for life.
Drug addiction rehab at Beach House can include the following components.
- Detox: Detoxifying from an addictive substance creates withdrawal symptoms such as flu-like body aches, sleep disruptions and mood swings. These symptoms can vary in intensity depending on how long the user relied on cocaine and the size of the doses they were accustomed to taking, among other factors. In a medically supervised detox program, treatment professionals will monitor your condition and keep you as comfortable as possible, administering medications as necessary.
- Inpatient rehab: Also known as residential rehab, inpatient rehab is a stay in our well-appointed facility while you seek individual evidence-based therapy from our addiction clinicians. You will also participate in a 12-step recovery group during this time, and can seek family therapy as necessary.
- Dual-diagnosis treatment: In many cases, substance addiction develops alongside a co-occurring mental health disorder such as PTSD, depression or anxiety. If we assess you and determine you have a dual diagnosis, we will create a treatment program to address both these challenges simultaneously.
If you are ready to learn more about treatment options for a cocaine addiction, or what makes Beach House different, we invite you to call our counselors for a confidential assessment today.