October 17, 2008, Newsletter Issue #205: Physical Effects of Cocaine Use

Tip of the Week

People use cocaine for the sense of exhilaration it provides, but this is not long-lasting and requires greater and greater amounts of the drug to provide the same high. At the same time, the drug speeds their heart rate, increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack. Other immediate effects may include nasal irritation (for those "snorting" cocaine), sweating, vertigo, vomiting, and muscle jerks.

Longer-term effects of regular cocaine use include weight loss, dehydration, and decreased sexual performance and sensation. Injecting the drug poses a risk of spreading HIV and AIDS, and cocaine tends to act as a local anesthetic, meaning the user is less likely to know when an injection site becomes infected.

Cocaine also suppresses normal desires for food and sleep, which can lead to malnutrition, impaired judgment, and increased susceptibility to disease. Smoking cocaine impairs the lungs' ability to process air, leaving the user chronically coughing and short of breath.

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