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Cocaine and its Effects on the Brain

Cocaine and its Effects on the Brain

Cocaine is an extremely dangerous drug that can have a negative impact on a person’s health and life.

A developed dependency on this drug can cause serious effects on the brain, causing disruptions in the individual’s body function. Long-term cocaine use can lead to more serious health problems in the future, some being irreversible.

At Banyan Delaware, we understand the risks of cocaine addiction and want to provide those suffering from this disease with the right treatment for recovery. We provide a medically monitored detox treatmentto help users safely begin their journey to recovery.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant that produces feelings of pleasure, energy, and alertness. Users become dependent on the feeling of euphoria they get from continuously using cocaine, which leads to addiction. Its effects on an individual depend on its purity, how much they used, how they ingested it, and if it was laced with any other substance. Because cocaine is usually obtained illegally, it’s often cut with other substances, like opioids, so the seller can make a profit. This can make cocaine addiction even more dangerous, especially if the user is unaware of what other substances it’s laced with.

How Does Cocaine Affect the Brain?

Numerous studies have been conducted to learn more about cocaine and its effects on the brain, and the results of this dangerous combination. So, what does cocaine do to the brain? This drug increases the amount of dopamine that the brain releases. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the body’s movement, cognition, and produces feelings of pleasure and confidence. Because cocaine causes the continuous release of dopamine, it prevents the neurotransmitter from being absorbed back into brain cells.1 This overabundance of dopamine is what is so addictive to users.

However, despite how good users might think they feel, they don’t realize how cocaine affects the brain.

The short-term effects of cocaine on the brain include:

  • Feeling of pleasure
  • Alertness
  • Increase in energy
  • Irritability
  • Being overactive
  • Extreme sensitivity to sound
  • Paranoia

Some users might feel as if cocaine helps them perform better or stay alert and focused. Those suffering from an addiction to cocaine will try to ignore these side effects.

Some of the long-term effects of cocaine on the brain include:

  • Damage to the inner lining of the brain
  • Headaches
  • Blood clots
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Increased brain aging, in which the brain loses its gray matter

One of the most serious results of studies done on cocaine and its effects on the brain is brain aging. This refers to the loss of gray matter in the brain as a person ages. This is usually a process that spans across decades, but a recent study concluded that those who abused cocaine lost their gray matter twice as quickly as a person who is not a cocaine user.2

At our rehab facility in Delaware, we have several programs in which addicts can find the treatment that’s most helpful to their recovery journey. Our residential treatment programhelps patients learn more about the source of their addiction and how to overcome it.

If you or someone you know is battling with addiction, call us now 888-280-4763.


    1. NIH- What is cocaine?
    2. NCBI- Cocaine dependence: a fast-track for brain aging?
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.