Health risks of certain drugs – Part 2: Snorting cocaine
It may sound unbelievable to many that the popular soft drink brand Coca Cola had coca leaves and kola nuts (a source of caffeine) as its main ingredients when John Pemberton launched it in 1886. Cocaine had just started to gain popularity and there was no better time to capitalize on the opportunity, and probably that was the reason why he named it after one of the most primitive, most potent, and most perilous stimulants of natural origin – cocaine.
It was in 1903 when the soft drink manufacturer had to remove cocaine from Coca Cola due to public and administrative pressure. What had started from the drug of choice for the wealthy in the late 1800s had become America’s most deadly and addictive drug by the 1980s, with connections to abuse, crime and premature deaths.
According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), around 38.7 million people had used cocaine once in their lifetime, while 4.8 million and 1.88 million people had used in the last year and the last month respectively. It includes around 0.15 million current users (those who had used cocaine in the last month) in the age group of 12-17 years and 38.5 million uses who were 18 years or older.
Health hazards of snorting cocaine
Cocaine stimulates central nervous system (CNS) to deliver the feelings of increased energy, confidence and euphoria, collectively termed as getting “high.” It can be smoked, injected or snorted. Although snorting takes longer to give the sensation of “high,” the effect lasts longer than other two ways of use. No matter how the user takes the drug, its deteriorating effect on the brain and other body functions would only worsen over time.
Cocaine rapidly enters the bloodstream and accesses the brain. With its psychoactive and addictive effects, it stimulates neurochemical dopamine, which delivers the feelings of euphoria and a desire to take the drug again. When the brain is affected, other organs also experience the consequences, because it travels through the blood. Known to cause the maximum U.S. emergency room visits compared to other illegal drugs, cocaine use is known to adversely affect brain, lungs, heart, blood vessels and may even lead to sudden death. Listed below are some major health hazards related to cocaine:
Effect on heart: Cocaine tends to elevate blood pressure and heart rate while causing the arteries supplying blood to the heart to constrict. This obstructs the blood flow to the heart muscle, thereby, raising the risk of heart attack, even in young people with a healthy heart. Cocaine use can produce abnormal heart rhythms (called arrhythmias), which may lead to stroke.
Effect on brain: Cocaine abuse may cause narrowing of blood vessels in the brain, which may result in strokes. Even young people with no known risk factors for stroke have the risk of stroke after cocaine use. Moreover, cocaine use may also produce seizures and trigger violent behavior.
Effect on lungs and respiratory system: Snorting cocaine can damage nose and sinuses, with nasal perforation in regular users. Cocaine use may also lead to permanent lung damage in some people.
Effect on gastrointestinal tract: Snorting cocaine is associated with the development of ulcers and perforation of the stomach and intestines in some people, possibly due to constriction of blood vessels to the gut.
Effect on kidneys: Cocaine may cause kidney failure, especially in people with high blood pressure.
Effect on sexual function: Chronic cocaine use may have adverse effects on sexual function in men and women, with problems including delayed or impaired ejaculation in men.
Life beyond cocaine addiction
People who regularly use cocaine for a prolonged period gradually develop dependence and addiction. The withdrawal symptoms after cocaine cut-off may include depression and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, inability to feel pleasure and physical symptoms, including tremors, aches, pains and chills. The Texas Drug Addiction Treatment aims at helping people smoothly detach from cocaine. For information on drug addiction treatment centers in Texas and treatment options, call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-5757 or chat online with our representatives.
Read the other parts of the series “Health risks of certain drugs:”
Part 1: Marijuana