This article is not to scare you but give you the medical facts on cocaine in research.
The reason people take cocaine is because it makes them feel confident, awake and generally good.
Cocaine does this by inducing a chemical called Dopamine in your brain.
Dopamine is released naturally when you do something good (e.g. winning a race, eating some nice food) but in more reasonable amounts. It feels good and in that way, motivates you to do that thing again.
Cocaine forces the chemical to be released excessively in your brain.
Where this becomes harmful is:
This release of dopamine is more-ish, you can’t stop wanting it. You may not become conventionally “addicted” but really begin to desire cocaine whenever you drink alcohol for example.
There’s a lag when your body has to make more dopamine in the days after you’ve taken cocaine so you’re likely to feel bad and perhaps unmotivated for a while.
That dopamine also causes the production of adrenaline, a chemical that makes your heart beat faster and harder, effectively raising your blood pressure.
Having raised blood pressure doesn’t present with any symptoms, and you feel fine, but your blood vessels become damaged which may lead to heart attacks, strokes, and erectile dysfunction to name a few.
Taking cocaine with alcohol causes the two substances to mix, producing cocaethylene which makes your heart work even harder and for longer, making the disease outcomes even more likely.
Cocaine also causes the vessels that supply your heart with blood to temporarily narrow, making the job of supplying the heart muscle much harder and can lead to the heart muscle beginning to die in serious cases (effectively a form of heart attack).
Sam Fitzpatrick Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
Milad Rouf Final Year Medical Student, Cardiff University.
Schwartz, B., Rezkalla, S. and Kloner, R. 2010. Cardiovascular Effects of Cocaine. Circulation 122(24), pp. 2558-2569.