A Detailed Guide On What Does Cocaine Do To Your Body

what does cocaine do to your body

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.


Cocaine is one of the many drugs that are found on the peddling streets. It is a substance extracted and processed from the Erythroxylum coca plant that is native to South America.

According to addiction statistics, cocaine is one of five illegal drugs that have caused most substance abuse overdose deaths worldwide. In the USA about 5.2 million people are using cocaine.

So what does cocaine do to your body that can eventually lead to death in some cases? Let’s learn more about that in detail. 

But before we move into the article, did you know that coca leaves have existed and been known for thousands of years?

They used to be chewed by indigenous people of South America and even used for medical treatment. These leaves were used as an anesthetic and for ailment purposes. People used to crush the leaves to a thin powder and apply it to wounds.

Cocaine addiction has also been around for just as long. When imperialism started and the Spanish came to South America, they discovered that the people who chewed Coca leaves could not function when they were made to stop. They quickly took advantage of this fact and started taxing Coca leaves.

what does cocaine do to your body?
Image by young shanahan via Flickr. Copyright 2022.

A. How does cocaine work?

To make understand what does cocaine do to your body, let us first understand how does cocaine works?

Like coffee, cocaine can energize you and wake you up in seconds. It increases your vigilance and heightens your senses, just like coffee, but by tenfold. Cocaine basically tricks your brain into releasing more serotonin, eliciting the feeling of euphoria in your body.

One important factor to weigh in when we talk about how people get addicted to the drug is due to the experience of the “coming down” phase after one feels after the high.

During this phase, people experience immense sadness and physical and mental fatigue. To avoid this, people start binging on the drug. This binge pattern can lead to a cocaine overdose.

B. How is cocaine ingested?

This highly addictive stimulant drug is usually ingested by snorting through the nose. This is done so that it reaches the brain faster.

Smoking cocaine is also a way for this drug to enter your brain. Though this type of cocaine is different and comes in a crystal rock form and is called Crack cocaine. This type of cocaine is made to smoke and cannot be snorted.

Cocaine can also be dissolved and injected directly into the bloodstream which takes the drug to your brain through the blood flow.

It is important to think about what does cocaine do to your body if you are thinking of ingesting cocaine in any way.

People who avidly abuse cocaine can mix a certain combination of different drugs and make a cocktail to inject into their bloodstream. This is dangerously risky and can even cause cardiac arrest.

Crack is usually mixed with other recreational drugs like Marijuana or Tobacco to increase the “high”.

C. What does cocaine do to your body?

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that can lead to overdose and sudden death.

So what does cocaine do to your body?

Once one gets addicted to cocaine, the road to recovery is a difficult but possible one. Some effects of cocaine use include:

  1. Dilated pupils
  2. Increased heart palpitations
  3. Increased body temperature
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Sudden euphoria
  6. Intense energy
  7. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder
  8. Heightened senses

These are just the short-term effects of cocaine that last between 5-90 minutes after cocaine abuse.

What does cocaine do to your body in the long term you may ask now? There are long-term and fatal effects of cocaine too that are dangerous and can even lead to death.

1. Effects of snorting cocaine

What does cocaine do to your body when you snort it?

Cocaine users usually live in the euphoric high that they receive from cocaine abuse however, cocaine has more negative health effects that drug abusers tend to ignore.

what does cocaine do to your body
Image by Marco Verch Professional Photographer via Flickr. (original photo and the license)

When cocaine is snorted, it travels through the nose and throat. Constant snorting can result in inflammation of the nose vessels and cause a runny nose. This inflammation can cause respiratory distress and restricted breathing. It can also cause heart disease in the long run.

Repeated cocaine use causes constricted blood vessels which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood causing reduced blood flow. When blood flow reduces through the body it can even cause blood clots.

2. Effects of Smoking Crack

What does cocaine do to your body when you smoke it?

Smoking this drug is the most dangerous way of cocaine abuse. Once Crack is smoked, it enters the brain through the lung membranes within seconds.

This results in giving the user the high they’re looking for in the fastest way possible. According to The Recovery Village, the lower the time taken to receive the high, the higher the risk of addiction.

what does cocaine do to your body?
Image by Ted McGrath via Flickr. Copyright 2022.

Besides its immediate high, smoking Crack does have many physical side effects as well, including obvious damage to the respiratory system.

Crack cocaine is usually smoked with other substances to increase the effect of the high. Some of these substances, when smoked can cause damage to the organs.

The risk of getting Parkinson’s disease is proved to be higher in Crack cocaine abusers.

3. Effects of injecting cocaine

What does cocaine do to your body when you inject it into your bloodstream?

Injecting or shooting Crack directly into your blood vessels is very risky since there are other drugs/substances mixed in it to increase its volume and price.

These drugs are not meant to be injected into the body as they can cause a lot of health risks including sudden heart attacks.

what does cocaine do to your body
Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash Copyright 2022.

The short-term effects of shooting cocaine are the ecstatic feeling you get along with paranoia. Cocaine paranoia is fairly common among first-timers.

Chest pain is another effect of shooting cocaine along with an increased risk of heart attacks and seizures.

Since cocaine is injected through needles, sharing the needle can cause HIV or Hepatitis C. Constant injection can cause the vein to swell up and collapse. This would require medical attention immediately.

Other physical effects

What does cocaine do to your body physically?

Chronic cocaine use, be it in any form, can have long-term effects on your body. These include:

  • Respiratory problems like difficulty in breathing and constant cold.
  • Hyperactivity. Cocaine makes you very jittery and restless causing you to do something at all times.
  • Damage to the digestive system. Since cocaine is a strong substance, constant use can cause damage the natural environment of the stomach lining, causing it to lose its good bacteria. This can lead to multiple digestive complications like loss of appetite or constant diarrhea.
  • Bowel decay. Some people are used to ingesting cocaine by applying it to their gums. This cocaine is swallowed and ends up in the digestive system, further leading to bowel decay.
  • Headaches. Withdrawal can cause major migraines and vomiting.
  • Blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to other diseases and even heart attacks.
  • Heart failure. Cocaine increases the heart rate which can lead to arrhythmia and even heart failure.

What does cocaine do to your body during withdrawal? Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine are nose bleeds, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain, trouble breathing, constant sweating, restlessness, fatigue, etc.

D. Mental health complications

What does cocaine do to your body mentally?

Cocaine addiction not only causes physical problems. It can also lead to altering and destroying your mental health. Cocaine addiction can take a toll on your mental state of being.

  • Paranoia: Paranoia is usually the part and parcel of drug abuse. The feeling of someone following or watching you is an effect of drug addiction.
  • Irritability: Once addicted, cocaine needs to be taken regularly to avoid restlessness.
  • Dependency: Cocaine addiction is very dangerous because you start depending on the drug for clarity and concentration. You cannot function or think properly and this leads to psychological dependence. Cocaine overdose is usually what follows this process.
  • Depression: Withdrawal can lead to depression and intense melancholy.
  • Anger: Anger is a very common effect of cocaine. After taking cocaine, you can experience immense anger and end up getting into trouble.

If you wonder what does cocaine do to your body during withdrawal? Then, let us explain.

Mental withdrawal symptoms are depression, sleeplessness, sexual problems, stress, overreaction, anxiety, demotivation, etc.

The answer to what does cocaine do to your body is that it can completely shut it down if the addiction gets out of control. You can try to detox from home if it’s not too late in the addiction stage.

Mental health issues are a serious effect of drug abuse.

what does cocaine do to your body?
Photo by Colin Davis on Unsplash. Copyright 2022.

E. Conclusion

If your loved one is suffering from mental health issues because of drug addiction, contact the Substance abuse and Mental health services administration. They may be able to help you convince your loved one to seek rehab.

Substance abuse treatment is a long process and can take months and even years. You mustn’t give up on your family and friends going through addiction treatment and instead encourage them to keep going and make a lasting recovery.

Many times, people tend to give up on their friends and family that are recovering from addiction. This discourages the patient since it detrimentally affects their mental health. They can relapse with no help on their side from the people they love.

If you are the one suffering from addiction and are looking to recover and turn your life around, don’t hesitate to call the National Drug Helpline, which can help you come out of addiction by providing addiction treatment.

You will not get into trouble with the law and can choose to stay anonymous. You can enquire everything you need to know about the path to recovery through the hotline.

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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