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Cocaine is a stimulant that speeds up the workings of the brain. This illegal drug is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant and is processed with a blend of other chemicals to form a white powder known as cocaine hydrochloride. This type of cocaine, the most common in Australia, is typically inhaled or injected. These other chemicals may include fillers, such as glucose or lactose, which are added purely to boost profits. However, this type is still rarely available in Australia. Dopamine is one of these brain chemicals.
How it works
With repeated exposure to cocaine, the brain starts to adapt so that the reward pathway becomes less sensitive to natural reinforcers 1018 see " What Are Some Ways that Cocaine Changes the Brain? At the same time, circuits involved in stress become increasingly sensitive, leading to increased displeasure and negative moods when not taking the drug, which are s of withdrawal.
These combined effects make the user more likely to focus on seeking the drug instead of relationships, food, or other natural rewards.
With regular use, tolerance may develop so that higher doses, more frequent use of cocaine, or both are needed to produce the same level of pleasure and relief from withdrawal experienced initially. Users take cocaine in binges, in which cocaine is used repeatedly and at increasingly higher doses.
What is cocaine?
This can lead to increased irritability, restlessness, panic attacks, paranoia, and even a full-blown psychosis, in which the individual loses touch with reality and experiences auditory hallucinations. Specific routes of cocaine administration can produce their own adverse effects. Regularly snorting cocaine can lead to loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and an overall irritation of the nasal septum leading to a chronically inflamed, runny nose.
They also may experience allergic reactions, either to the drug itself or to additives in cocaine, which in severe cases can result in death. Cocaine damages many other organs in the body. It reduces blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to tears and ulcerations.
Cocaine has ificant and well-recognized toxic effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. In addition to the increased risk for stroke and seizures, other neurological problems can occur with long-term cocaine use. Former cocaine users are at high risk for relapse, even following long periods of abstinence.
Research indicates that during periods of abstinence, the memory of the cocaine experience or exposure to cues associated with drug use can trigger strong cravings, which can lead to relapse. National Institutes of Health.
Cocaine research report
Drug Topics. More Drug Topics.
About NIDA. Research Report.
Cocaine Research Report What are the long-term effects of cocaine use? Prev Next. May