Cocaine is an illegal stimulant that people take because it creates feelings of euphoria. However, cocaine use also comes with many other side effects and health risks. Some of the risks are related to how a person puts cocaine into their body. Ways of taking cocaine include rubbing it into the gums, injecting it into the bloodstream, inhaling it as smoke, and snorting cocaine into the nose. Each method carries its own risk of injury. One of the problems that come with snorting cocaine is that it severely damages the tissue inside the nose.
If you abuse cocaine or have constant fears for a loved one who does, it is important to realize that this doesn't need to be a permanent situation. You or the person you care about can stop cocaine use with the help of an addiction treatment center like Cornerstone of Southern California.
What Is Cocaine?
What Does Cocaine Look Like?
Cocaine comes in three forms: powder, freebase, and crack cocaine. While it is not impossible for someone smoking cocaine to be doing it with powder, a person smoking cocaine is more likely to be using freebase or crack cocaine. Both have a crystalline appearance.
Snorting cocaine involves inhaling the powder up the nose. The powder can also be rubbed into the gums or dissolved into water and injected into the blood veins. Injecting cocaine spreads infections if needles are shared. Rubbing cocaine into the gums can cause gum decay.
In its powder form, cocaine looks white, but you can not judge the purity of cocaine by looking at its color. Dealers often add other substances such as talcum powder, laundry soap, and cornstarch to cocaine to bulk it out. They also often add other drugs such as the highly dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl. When cocaine is mixed with fentanyl it increases the risk of sudden death. Even 2mg of fentanyl is enough to cause a fatal overdose.
What Does Cocaine Do?
Cocaine works by affecting how the feel-good chemical dopamine is processed in the brain. In ordinary circumstances, dopamine that is released by the brain is then reabsorbed. Cocaine stops this happening and the amount of dopamine increases to create a drug high.
Cocaine users experience many other sensations besides euphoria. The immediate short-term side effects of cocaine use include:
- Feelings of wakefulness and mental alertness
- Loss of appetite
- Increased sensory sensitivity to touch and sound
- Being able to perform tasks with increased speed, or feelings of having slowed down
- Increased irritability or paranoia
- Muscle tremors and twitches
- Abdominal pain
Cocaine use can also cause high blood pressure. This leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems and stroke.
The long-term side effects of cocaine use include increased damage to the person's mental health. Many cocaine users engaged in long-term substance abuse may feel increasingly irritable. Some may also experience paranoia, panic attacks, and even psychosis.
Dependence and Addiction
One of the most damaging side effects of cocaine use is the development of dependence and addiction. When a person is dependent on cocaine it means that their body and mind have become used to the presence of the substance. When they stop using cocaine, their body feels that it is not a normal situation and produces withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant and may include:
- Cocaine cravings
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle aches, spasms, and tremors
Cocaine addiction is a mental health disorder. When a person experiences this debilitating addiction, seeking and using the drug becomes the priority in their life. They continue with their drug use, even when it causes them negative consequences.
When Did People Start Using Cocaine?
Like tobacco, marijuana, and many other drugs and medicines, cocaine originates in the leaves of a plant. The plant in this particular instance is the coca plant, a small bush-like tree that comes from South America. For many thousands of years, indigenous people chewed the leaves of the coca plant to feel its effects. Then in 1859, a German scientist succeeded in separating cocaine from coca plant leaves. After that, the drug became popular in the West.
In the following years, purified cocaine was used in a variety of ways. It was smoked in cigarettes, put in wine, and added to soft drinks. It was also used in medicine because of its anesthetic effects. As the years passed, however, it became clear that cocaine addiction occurred when these products were overused. From the early 20th century onwards the US government steadily increased restrictions on cocaine.
Today, this powerful stimulant is a Schedule II drug because it carries a high risk of causing dependence, addiction, and abuse. Cocaine is not a Schedule I drug because its medical uses are still recognized, although it has largely been supplanted by newer, safer anesthetics.
During the 1980s and 1990s, cocaine became a popular recreational drug. In 2020, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 5.2 million people aged 12 or older reported using cocaine in the preceding 12 months.
What Happens When People Snort Cocaine?
People regularly snorting cocaine usually arrange the powder in straight lines, often on a mirror or other flat surfaces, to make snorting the substance easy. Typically, a banknote will be rolled up to use as an improvised straw. This is passed over a line of powder as the user breathes in deeply through their nostril, thus sucking the powder up into their nose.
One of the dangers of snorting cocaine with a banknote is that it may not be clean. If the banknote is shared between several people there is a risk of catching respiratory infections.
When the powder enters the nose, it settles upon the internal nasal tissue and is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it travels to the brain and induces its euphoric effects. Typically, these last for 15 to 30 minutes unless cocaine use continues.
How Does Snorting Cocaine Damage the Nose?
Your nose contains hundreds of sensitive receptors that help you taste food and distinguish different scents. Each time you draw a breath into your nasal cavity, it passes the nasal septum, and as the air progresses through your nostrils, it is filtered by mucus membranes and small hairs that keep particles of dirt and germs from entering your lungs.
Snorting cocaine and other substances can lead to infections that permanently damage this well-balanced nasal system. In most circumstances, the powder, the improvised straw, and the surface are not sterile. The result is that any cocaine snorted is also joined by whatever dirt is on the drug paraphernalia.
As the cocaine powder coats the soft tissues inside your nose and penetrates the blood vessels beneath, it damages your nasal cavity. What's more, blood flow to your nasal passages is restricted.
Snorting cocaine can cause loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, and permanent damage to your nasal cavity, septum, nasal passages, eyes, ears, and brain. You are also at a heightened risk of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis C, AIDS, and other blood disorders.
Signs of Snorting Cocaine
Snorting cocaine produces a variety of unpleasant side effects.
- Early signs of nasal damage: As people snort cocaine, early symptoms of the damage caused by cocaine powder include a runny nose, allergic reactions, and sinus infection.
- Progressive signs of nasal damage: Snorting cocaine or other substances regularly causes damage that your body has insufficient time to heal. The reduced blood flow to the irritated areas and unhealed damage cause the death of nasal tissue.
- Signs of permanent nasal damage: Holes begin to form in the soft tissues of the palette and upper nose. The septum (the flesh that divides one nostril from the other) begins to erode. Saddle nose deformity (the buckling of the nasal ridge) can result as more soft tissue and cartilage are destroyed.
- Signs of widespread facial damage: The death of nasal tissue can spread to other facial organs and the brain. If an infection spreads to your eyes, vision damage or blindness can result. Other parts of the head, including the ears, are vulnerable. Infection can result in hearing loss. In the worst cases, the brain and spine are permanently damaged.
Cornerstone Cocaine Detox Program
At Cornerstone, a premier drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Southern California, our expert team of doctors can help you to overcome cocaine addiction. We understand the pain that cocaine abuse brings, both to the person with the addiction and their family members. Cocaine destroys lives, but at our treatment center, we help to rebuild them.
The withdrawal symptoms associated with overcoming cocaine abuse can be mitigated by our medical treatment options. We deliver a detox program overseen by our team of highly qualified, compassionate, and experienced addiction experts.
To help you overcome your addiction to cocaine, we provide round-the-clock care and guide you through the whole cocaine addiction treatment process. We will carefully manage the withdrawal symptoms you experience. Our treatment programs aren't designed on a one size fits all basis. Instead, we tailor treatment to your specific needs, so you get the care and compassion you deserve.
At Cornerstone, you'll have all the support needed to begin a new life free from drug abuse.
Your decision to confront cocaine addiction and stop drug use for good wasn't an easy one to make. You're determined to fight for a healthy, drug-free life, and we are determined to be at your side every step of the way.
To start that healthy and happy journey, get in touch with us today.