Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug that’s illegally made and sold on the streets.
While it can be injected, smoked, or snorted, people commonly snort cocaine because this form of it produces a longer-lasting high. But what does cocaine do to your nose if you snort it? Our Heartland treatment center is taking a closer look inside the nose of a cocaine user, offering answers as to why it happens and effective ways to manage the damage that has been caused.
Understanding What Cocaine Does to Your Nose
Cocaine is a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that’s derived from coca leaves of Erythroxylon coca, a plant native to South America. Before cocaine’s effects on the nose or any other part of the body were understood, it was an active ingredient in many medications and was even in the early formulas of Coca-Cola. Now, the repercussions of long-term cocaine abuse are much better understood and there’s more research advising against any use of this drug.
There are various ways to use cocaine, one of them being snorting or inhaling it through the nose. Despite the symptoms of cocaine use on the nose, many users prefer this method because it produces an immediate high that may also last longer than if they injected it or smoked it. However, as with any other method of use, snorting cocaine can seriously damage the nose.
To understand how cocaine affects the nose, you have to know the basic parts of the nose. The main parts of the nose are:
- Nasal septum: This is a wall made out of cartilage and bone that runs down the length of your nose and separates the nasal cavity in half (two nostrils).
- Cartilage: Cartilage is a firm, whiteish, and flexible connective tissue at the tip of the nose that forms the front part of the septum to create the wall of the nose.
- Mucous membrane linings: These are the linings on the inside of the nose. This part of the nose creates mucus, which captures germs, dust, and other small fragments that could irritate the lungs.
- Nasal cavity: This is located behind your nose and connects to the back of the throat. The nasal cavity is separated from the inside of your mouth by the roof of your mouth (palate).
Snorting cocaine can damage the mucous membrane linings and inhibit blood flow to the nose. When this lining is affected, it also leaves the person more susceptible to inhaling irritating particles. While the damage to the membrane linings is a direct result of snorting cocaine, decreased blood flow is caused by the effects of cocaine on the brain, specifically on neurotransmitters.
These are chemicals that act as messengers in the CNS and include chemicals epinephrine and norepinephrine. Because they help regulate blood flow in the body, cocaine’s effects on their levels can disrupt this process.
Cocaine is a highly addictive and dangerous drug that can affect more than just your nose. Banyan’s Heartland detox services include a cocaine withdrawal program that helps people addicted to this drug safely get through the withdrawal phase of recovery. This is an important step in treating addiction that can make the rest of the process smoother.
The Effects of Cocaine on The Nose
Experiencing nose bleeds after cocaine use is common because of the direct damage to the membrane lining. However, these short-term effects of cocaine on the nose can lead to long-term problems.
The nose absorbs cocaine first through the mucus membrane linings, after which it enters the bloodstream. Any other additional cocaine-cutting agents, such as paint thinner or fentanyl, are also absorbed in this process.
These chemicals inflame the inner lining of the nose, causing stuffiness and irritation. After that, the drug’s effects cause the blood vessels in the nose to shrivel, which blocks blood flow.
As the effects of cocaine wear off, these vessels may burst, which causes nose bleeds. Despite this damage, a user may only be able to quit with cocaine addiction treatment at our Gilman, IL Banyan rehab center.
Some additional effects of cocaine on the nose include:
- Deviated septum: Repeated use of cocaine through snorting can irritate the cartilage and mucus lining to the point where the shape of the septum is altered. This can cause difficulties breathing, headaches, facial pain, and sinus infections.
- Perforated septum: This is the result of irritated membrane linings and blocked blood flow. Long-term use of cocaine can cause the cells in the septum to die, which creates a hole or perforation. If the person continues to snort cocaine, blood flow will continuously be depleted, preventing oxygen from reaching the cells and tissue in the septum. This can result in cell death, meaning the hole will continue to grow if the person continues to use it.
- Hard palate damage: This is common in people who have abused cocaine for a long time. Hard palate damage caused by cocaine refers to holes and other forms of damage in the roof of the mouth. The bone may slowly deteriorate, and holes and the roof of the mouth may begin to form over time.
- “Saddle nose”: A cocaine user’s nose can be identified by its outer appearance. Cocaine’s effects on the inside of the nose often become apparent in the physical appearance of the nose as well. A saddle nose is a condition where the septum is so damaged that it can’t hold up the nostrils, causing it to collapse. This makes the nose look flatter and wider on the outside.
Healing the Mind and Nose After Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine nose is one of the most visible physical repercussions of this form of substance abuse. Individuals must abstain from additional drug usage in order to cure the damaged nasal passages.
The nasal tissues may start to recover over time as a result of the body's inherent healing mechanisms. Medical treatments that reduce inflammation and encourage healing include saltwater rinses and topical antibiotics. To repair the broken septum and regain appropriate nasal function, however, surgical intervention may be required in cases of severe nasal injury.
Cocaine abuse also severely harms the mind, leaving users to cope with a range of emotional and mental challenges. Physical rehabilitation and psychological assistance are required as part of the healing process after someone decides to seek recovery after ending the cycle of addiction. Psychotherapy services like cognitive behavioral therapy as well as support groups can all be very beneficial in addressing the rooted emotional issues that may have contributed to the addiction.
These therapies work to improve the patient's coping mechanisms, stress and emotion regulation, and self-esteem. With the assistance of a skilled expert and a strong support system, individuals can overcome the trauma and triggers related to cocaine use, paving the way for long-lasting mental healing and overall well-being.
The ugly side of addiction goes beyond nosebleeds and saddle noses. This drug can also cause damage to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and more. Addiction is a cruel disease that should be treated by experts. If you have a cocaine addiction or know someone who does, we can help.
Call Banyan Heartland now at 888-280-4763 to speak to a team member about our Illinois addiction treatment programs.