Cocaine: harm, effect, overdose and consequences

Cocaine is one of the most common and dangerous drugs in the modern world. Addiction occurs almost instantly, and then - the deterioration of health and degradation of personality. Cocaine addicts rarely live up to 40 years.

What is a drug? What are the consequences of cocaine use? How to recognize a drug addict? How to help a person get rid of addiction? The answers to these and many other questions are further in the article.

Cocaine History

A drug of plant nature is found in the leaves of a cocca bush growing in the South American tropics.

White fine powder, which has destroyed millions of our contemporaries, appeared a couple of centuries ago. But the indigenous people of Latin America knew about the stimulating properties of deciduous plants in the third century AD.

Coca leaves

Warriors and messengers chewed fresh leaves to increase endurance, and leaders and priests to enter a religious trance.

Leaves entered Europe in the 17th century and until the 19th century. (when pure synthetic cocaine was withdrawn) were used for medical purposes.

The drug was promoted by Sigmund Freud, who dedicated one of the editions of his silent movie to him. The father of psychoanalysis prescribed the powder to his patients, advised his friends.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the benefits and harms of cocaine were revised, since by then thousands of overdose deaths had already been recorded. And in 1922, the substance was recognized as a drug and officially banned.

A new round of cocaine popularity began in the 70s. Sharks of show business literally advocated the use of white powder, creating the illusion of an active beautiful life.

Today, the record countries for drug use are North and South America. The reason is the territorial proximity of plantations for growing cocca bushes. Western Europe accounts for about 20%.

Cocaine is considered to be a drug of the rich, but this is not true. Trial doses are sold at an affordable price, but as a person gains addiction, the price increases. Cocaine addicts are people of all ages, from all walks of life and social status.

Varieties of cocaine

The degree of purification and the amount of impurities determine the type of drug and the method of its use - smoking, intravenous administration, inhalation through the nose.

Pure cocaine is an elite expensive drug. This is a fine crystalline powder of white (may have shades of yellow and pink) color, bitter in taste. Contains 90% cocaine hydrochloride.

The action of the substance manifests itself in contact with the mucous membranes, so it is rubbed into the gums or inhaled through the nose. In their jargon, addicts call cocaine - “snow”, “hoarfrost”, “coke”, “white”, “dust”.

Cocaine paste is more viscous and wet in consistency. Contains impurities. This is the product of the first stage of cocca leaf processing. The mass fraction of pure substance here is 40-75%, so the paste is cheaper than the powder. It is smoked by adding marijuana or tobacco.

Speedball is a mixture of cocaine and heroin. The most dangerous kind of drug causes a strong cross-dependence, which is almost impossible to get rid of. Speedball is presented as a solution for intravenous administration. He, as a rule, is chosen by drug addicts with experience who cannot reach “high” when rubbing or inhaling the drug.

speedball application

Crack is crystalline cocaine intended for smoking. Under the influence of high temperature, the crystals are destroyed, producing a characteristic crack (hence the name of the drug “crack” - “crack” in English).

Small hard pieces with uneven edges significantly reduce the cost of the product, which makes it popular among the poor.

crack crystals

The principle of cocaine

When ingested, the drug is included in the transmission of nerve impulses to the brain. It enhances the action of three systems simultaneously: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Cocaine use aimed at stimulating these receptors causes:

  1. The feeling of limitless happiness. A person feels an emotional upsurge, becomes sociable, cheerful, open, sincere.
  2. Leap of mental activity. Memory improves, mental activity rises. There is confidence in the ability to solve the most difficult problem.
  3. Surge of strength. There is a powerful surge of energy, increased performance, endurance, drowsiness disappears.
  4. A sense of superiority. Under the influence of the drug, cocainists feel themselves to be “superhuman”, confident in their correctness and compelling.

The narcotic effect after inhalation of the powder occurs after 5 minutes. The duration of euphoria is 30-120 minutes. The duration and "severity" of sensations is determined by the amount of dose consumed and the length of the addict. Addiction occurs quickly, in the pursuit of vivid sensations, addicts increase the dosage and frequency of use, against which overdoses often occur.

Signs of Cocaine Intoxication

Determining that a person has taken a dose of a drug is sometimes difficult. It is easy to confuse the state with a slight alcohol intoxication or the action of energy drinks - there is excitement, sociability, charm, excessive self-confidence.

drug use

The effect of cocaine on the body is divided into physiological and psychological.

Physiological signs include:

  • pallor of the skin;
  • sensation of irritated mucosa, causeless runny nose;
  • dilated pupils;
  • rapid breathing;
  • tachycardia;
  • infectious diseases of the respiratory tract;
  • sweating
  • disruption of the intestines;
  • weight loss (for drug addicts with experience).

Psychological signs include:

  • sharp mood swings;
  • haste, excessive self-confidence;
  • hallucinations;
  • inconsistency of action, impulsiveness.

The first effect of cocaine and the consequences of taking the dose vary slightly. They usually appear in the form of a sharp breakdown, lethargy, irritability, depression.

Laboratory diagnosis of cocaine intoxication

Cocaine itself and its breakdown products - ecgonin and benzoylecgonin - are subject to identification. The easiest and fastest way is to use rapid tests for urine. More complex methods are carried out in the laboratory.

Cocaine in the blood lasts 4-6 hours after ingestion of the drug. While its metabolites with urine are excreted only on the third day.

Other biomaterials are also used to determine the narcotic substance: in saliva, ekgonin and benzoylekgonin last up to 5 days, in hair - up to 90 days, in nails - up to 180 days.

Cocaine effect on organs: respiratory system

When cocaine enters the body, blood vessels become constricted, blood pressure rises, heart rate becomes more frequent, and a record dose of stress hormone enters the bloodstream. The combination of these factors can lead to instant death from a heart attack, stroke, hypertensive crisis, or aortic dissection.

As soon as the drug gets inside, it disrupts the activity of organ systems. In some cases, the consequences may be irreversible. So, inhalation of the powder leads to systematic irritation of the mucous membrane, chronic rhinitis develops over time.

Smoking crack damages the bronchi, tumors can form in the lungs, and a deep cough develops.

Common cocainist diseases are pulmonary thrombosis, bronchial asthma, necrosis of a part of the lung, wheezing cough, pharyngitis.

Nervous system

What effect does cocaine have on the brain? Repeated exposure to cocaine on its cells provokes a violation of the nervous structures, which manifests itself in the form of convulsive seizures, epileptic syndrome and muscle tremors.

Failures in the cerebral cortex are responsible for sudden mood swings, hallucinations, mental instability, blurred consciousness, spatial disorientation.

One of the consequences of cocaine use - it seems to the addict that he has insects under his skin. In an effort to get rid of them, the addict scratches himself to the point of blood. Such a hallucination is the first step towards psychosis, paranoia and manic state.

The cardiovascular system

The drug provokes spasm of the cardiac arteries and disrupts the myocardial electroactivity. So, a heart attack or stroke can be diagnosed in young patients who are not at risk.

In medical practice, a unique case of the death of a cocainist with a 10-year experience has been described. An autopsy was performed and the heart was removed. After the actual death of a person, muscle contracted for another 20 minutes. Myocardial cells adapted to the drug. Systematic narrowing of the vessels of the brain and the work of the muscle at the limit of possibilities led to a significant increase in the frequency of contractions of the heart. This helped him gain resistance to oxygen starvation and adapt to ischemia. So it was able to work without oxygen for so long.


The main harm of cocaine is due to the development of chronic rhabdomyolysis. The drug has a destructive effect on skeletal muscle tissue. The toxic myoglobin resulting from muscle destruction enters the bloodstream and clogs the renal tubules, causing acute failure.

Other organs

female addiction

A drug reduces appetite. Refusing food, a person rapidly loses weight, and the body does not receive the necessary vitamins and minerals. Hence - a violation of metabolic processes, problems with bowel movement. Dependents “with experience” develop ulcers, perforations of the stomach and intestines.

Smoking crack causes visual disturbances - poisonous fumes literally “burn” the retina.

Many people also know the harm caused by cocaine when administered intravenously - injections entail venous thrombosis, blood poisoning, hepatitis B, and HIV infection.

Reproductive organs

Men lose the ability to reproduce offspring, become impotent. Women suffer from infertility, lose the ability to experience sex drive and orgasm. A high concentration of the drug in the woman’s body inhibits the production of eggs, the ovaries “freeze”, menstruation may stop.


If a woman carries a child, the influence of cocaine on the body will be felt not only by her, but also by the fetus. Every second pregnancy ends in a miscarriage due to baseless bleeding, placental abruption and other problems.

If the baby is born, the likelihood of pathologies is 99.9%. Among them - skeletal structure disorders, hydrocephalus, facial deformation, Down syndrome. The baby is already born drug addicted, because cocaine easily penetrates the placenta.


A sharp excess of the conditional norm of the drug with a single or at short intervals will not bring the expected effect. Instead of euphoria, a person will feel discomfort, which will turn into intolerable pain with a fatal outcome (if medical help is not provided during).

cocaine overdose

According to medical data, a dose of 1.2 grams per person who does not consume regularly is considered lethal. For comparison, a single street dose is 15-60 milligrams. To feel the effect of the drug on 1 kilogram of a person’s weight, 1.5 milligrams of pure substance must be accounted for.

Cocaine Overdose Symptoms

If cocaine poisoning occurs, the following symptoms will occur in a drug addict:

  • headache, migraine;
  • dry mouth, irresistible thirst;
  • blue skin;
  • excessive sweating.

A few hours later develop:

  • drowsiness;
  • cramps in arms and legs;
  • a sharp increase in body temperature;
  • complete dehydration of the body, the mucous membranes of the nose, eyes, and mouth dry out;
  • chest pain, tachycardia.

If the cocaine is not helped on time, vasoconstriction will lead to stroke, heart attack, coma, and death from suffocation or cardiac arrest.

Superstrong excitation of the nervous system is fraught with convulsions, convulsions. Such an attack can cause cardiac arrest and inevitable death.

Help with an overdose of cocaine

It is important to know if you have to face a person suffering from an overdose of cocaine, what to do in this case. Call an ambulance immediately. And before the arrival of the team of specialists, it is necessary to carry out the following procedures:

  1. Limit the movement of an excited drug addict. Protect yourself and others from the uncontrolled actions of the addict. Ideally, if a person takes a lying position, the lungs will be properly ventilated.
  2. If it was a powder, rinse the nasal cavity with clean water.
  3. If the drug gets inside through the blood or respiratory system, rinse the stomach with plenty of water and drink it with an absorbent drug (for example, activated charcoal).
  4. If the effect of cocaine on a person was so strong that the temperature rose, wipe the exposed parts of the body with cold water, apply a compress to the forehead. Antipyretic drugs are forbidden! They can enhance the effect of the drug and exacerbate the situation.
  5. If the condition of the victim is critical, do artificial respiration and indirect heart massage.

The harm to cocaine is well known to doctors, and after the drug addict is delivered to the hospital, they will act promptly. To suppress excitability, a dose of barbiturates will be administered. When breathing stops, tracheal intubation and connection to a ventilator are indicated. To relieve vasospasm in the brain and heart, amyl nitrite or nitroglycerin will be prescribed.

Addiction treatment

When the symptoms of an overdose are stopped and the cocainist's condition normalizes, it's time to start treatment for drug addiction. But, unfortunately, drugs and psychological methods with proven effectiveness of therapy do not exist. The key to success is a person’s awareness of the dangers of cocaine and a sincere desire to get rid of his power.

Getting rid of addiction occurs in several stages. At the first - the addict stops using the drug and refrains from taking it in the future. After some time, “withdrawal syndrome” (withdrawal) occurs, which is accompanied by physical and psychological torment. Doctors help manage symptoms. A complex of drugs is prescribed that normalize the work of organs, improve sleep, soothe, and relax.

The second step is no less responsible. Here, a person tries to overcome the psychological craving for a drug. Its average duration is 3-6 months. This time the patient spends in a specialized clinic where a team of specialists helps develop his motivation for a healthy lifestyle, identify the factors that prompted him to take drugs and eliminate them.

getting rid of addiction

The third step is a return to society. Volunteers help find a job, identify a circle of interests, make new useful contacts.

With professional sequential treatment, the chances of recovery are great. Even drug addicts with severe long-term addiction.


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