Doing Cocaine for the First Time: Side Effects and Risks
Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that can be snorted, smoked, or injected. It’s known by names like coke, blow, crack, and powder. Cocaine has a long history in medicine and was originally used for pain relief before anesthesia was invented. Today, however, cocaine is a Schedule II stimulant, meaning it is illegal to use recreationally in the United States. Despite the short-lived high it produces, many people become curious enough about cocaine to use it, often without understanding its risks. Let’s look at the effects of doing cocaine for the first time and how quickly you can become addicted to it.
What Does Cocaine Do to You the First Time?
Cocaine works by activating the mesolimbic dopamine system, which is the brain’s reward pathway. This area of the brain is usually reinforced naturally by stimuli like food and sex but can also be stimulated by drugs of abuse.
In addition to reward, this region of the brain also regulates emotions and motivation. Normally, dopamine is released by a neuron into the gap between two neurons (called the synapse).
In the synapse, dopamine binds to specialized proteins called dopamine receptors on the neighboring neuron. In this way, dopamine is used as a chemical messenger that’s carried from one neuron to another. Afterward, another protein called a transporter takes the dopamine from the synapse and recycles it for further use.
Cocaine interrupts this process by binding to the dopamine transporter, blocking the removal and reuptake of dopamine from the synapse. This causes dopamine to accumulate in the synapse and send
an amplified signal to neurons. What happens when you take coke for the first time is marked by a rush of euphoria.
Cocaine First Time Side Effects
Cocaine stimulates the CNS, creating not only a sensation of euphoria but also other side effects marked by rapid neural activity. From the cardiovascular system to the respiratory system, various functions of the body are heightened the first time doing coke.
Side effects that occur when taking coke for the first time include:
- Bloody nose
- Increased alertness and energy
- Chest pain
- Dilated pupils
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Abdominal pain
- Back or spine stiffness
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Paranoia or anxiety
- Muscle spasms
In rare cases, cocaine may lead to sudden death after one use. This is common in people who take too high of a dose or take cocaine that’s laced with fentanyl or other potent substances. Death is usually the result of cardiac arrest or seizures.
Can You Get Addicted to Cocaine?
Yes, you can get addicted to cocaine. Because of its impact on dopamine and the reward system in the brain, cocaine abuse can eventually lead to addiction.
This usually begins with tolerance, which is when the person requires a higher dose of the drug to experience the same effects. After a while of use, the brain and body may become dependent.
Cocaine dependence is marked by withdrawal symptoms like agitation, restless behavior, depressed mood, fatigue, and increased appetite. Withdrawals may occur when the person hasn’t used cocaine for a few hours to a few days, depending on the extent of their use.
The cravings and depression associated with cocaine withdrawals and comedown can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. In addition to physical dependence and addiction, other long-term effects of cocaine include:
- Breathing problems
- Perforation of cartilage in the nose
- Lost sense of smell
- Frequent nose bleeds
- Tooth decay
- Memory loss
- Lowered attention span
- Decreased decision-making skills
- Mental illness, such as depression and anxiety
- Scar tissue formation in the lungs and airways
- Internal bleeding in the lungs
- New or worsening symptoms of asthma or emphysema
- Increased risk of nervous system disorders like Parkinson’s
- Increased risk of contracting viruses or diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C (common in intravenous cocaine users)
Cocaine overdose can also occur in long-time users who continuously increase their doses to get high. An overdose on coke is a life-threatening emergency, producing symptoms like:
- Shallow or stopped breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to speak, focus, or open their eyes
- Blue or gray-tinted skin
- Darkened lips and fingernails
- Snoring or gurgling sounds from the throat
If you notice that someone is overdosing on cocaine, call 9-1-1 immediately to prevent brain damage, from lack of oxygen, or death.
Help for Cocaine Addiction
Unfortunately, while you may tell yourself that doing cocaine for the first time will be the only time, you never know. It only takes a handful of uses to become addicted to coke, so while you may think that using it a few times is harmless, it’s not.
There’s more at stake than your physical health when you use cocaine. Many people who give in to drug or alcohol abuse lose their family, friends, jobs, finances, and more. If you or a loved one has developed an addiction to crack or any other drug, get help before it’s too late.
Our Massachusetts drug rehab offers cocaine addiction treatment
that incorporates a variety of therapy programs – like biofeedback – to help patients come to terms with their addictions and learn how to properly manage their cravings to avoid relapse. Our programs may be held in both individual and group settings to not only offer individualized education and guidance to patients, but also to help them develop strong relationships with and learn from others in the recovery community.
For more information about our Massachusetts addiction treatment, contact Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763. Our Boston rehab center is here to help.
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