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How Cocaine Affects the Nervous System

How Cocaine Affects the Nervous System

Cocaine is a powerful and addictive drug known for the negative impact it can have on the body, especially on the central nervous system.

Those struggling with cocaine abuse should seek a team of professionals that specialize in treating stimulant addiction.

Available in many forms, cocaine can be injected, snorted, rubbed into the gums, or smoked. As a stimulant, it increases alertness and energy so users tend to be hyperactive and aggressive while high. This illegal street drug is often cut with additional substances like fentanyl so dealers can make more profit with less product. This can prove particularly dangerous as these additional substances can worsen symptoms and increase the potential for abuse and overdose.

Our Massachusetts drug treatment center examines how cocaine affects the nervous system.

What Is the Central Nervous System?

The central nervous system is made up of the brain and spinal cord. Combined, the brain and spinal cord control bodily functions like alertness, movement, memory, thoughts, speech, and learning. The spinal cord is also responsible for certain reflexes and movements without direction from the brain.

If the nervous system is compromised, a person may experience:

  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Severe headaches
  • Confusion
  • Inability to think clearly
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vision problems
  • Trouble talking
  • Difficulty understanding speech
  • Inability to walk or stand

In more extreme cases, damage to the central nervous system can cause serious health concerns such as seizures, which are related to brain function. Introducing cocaine into the nervous system can increase the individual’s chances of seizures or other severe issues.

Cocaine addiction is dangerous and can be life-threatening. People with this substance abuse disorder often require substance-specific treatment in order to fully recover. At Banyan Massachusetts, we offer a cocaine addiction program that targets the specific problems associated with cocaine abuse.

What Effect Does Cocaine Have on the Nervous System?

How cocaine affects the nervous system is largely related to neurotransmitter production. When cocaine is ingested, it increases the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of euphoria and pleasure. This feeling is what draws people into a cycle of substance abuse. Cocaine disrupts the body’s natural dopamine production, flooding the brain cells. The brain’s reward system is then activated, which can lead a person to seek more cocaine in order to feel that euphoria and pleasure again. As a person’s tolerance grows, larger doses are required to achieve the same high, therefore increasing the risk of overdosing.

Different parts of the central nervous system – such as the limbic system, cerebral cortex, and brain stem – are directly impacted by this increase in dopamine levels. As the addiction progresses, basic brain functions are warped and the body begins to suffer as a result.

Cocaine effects on the central nervous system include:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Seizures
  • Breathing problems
  • Change in heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of smell
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Movement disorders (Parkinson’s disease)
  • Loss in gray matter
  • Loss in white matter
  • Changes related to neurons and synapses in the brain 

The effects of long-term drug use on the brain, central nervous system, and the body as a whole can be incredibly detrimental. The brain is a delicate and vital part of the body; any form of substance abuse can cause irreversible damage.

If you or someone you know needs addiction treatment addiction treatment, call Banyan Treatment Center Massachusetts at 888-280-4763 to learn how our dedicated and trained staff of professionals can help.

Related Reading:

Substance Abuse and Dementia

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.
How Cocaine Affects the Nervous System
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