Cocaine has a significant impact on both the mind and body. The rush of energy and euphoria it induces is fleeting, yet the consequences can be long-lasting. But, what exactly is this drug? How does it make you feel? How long do the effects last, and how long can they be detected in your system?

In this article, you’ll find answers to all of the unanswered questions highlighted above, as well as information on the risks of abusing this substance.


What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a dangerous stimulant drug that’s made using the leaves of the coca plant.

When people think of this substance, the image that comes to mind is usually a white, fine powder. People take this drug by either snorting it through the nose, rubbing it into their gums, or dissolving it so that it becomes injectable.

Crack cocaine is another form of cocaine that’s processed to make a rock crystal, which can then be heated and smoked. Crack cocaine is more potent and is associated with more risk than powdered cocaine, partly because it reaches the brain faster and the high is more intense, though shorter.


What Does Cocaine Feel Like?

The effects can vary from person to person and depend on the method of intake, the dose, and the individual’s state of mind at the time. However, typically speaking, the effects of cocaine are characterised by an intense and almost immediate euphoria after consuming it, and it’s often described as a rush of energy and heightened alertness.

Someone who has taken this drug may feel a rush of confidence, leading to them becoming more sociable than usual. They may also have a distorted sense of their own abilities.

So, what this can look like is becoming much more talkative and appearing excited. Physically, people typically have dilated pupils and appear fidgety. On the other hand, some people can have an adverse effect on cocaine, which can look like being irritated, angry, and paranoid.

What’s more, abuse of this substance can also increase our heart rate and blood pressure, which can make people feel as though they don’t need to eat or sleep.


How Long Do the Effects of Cocaine Last?

The duration of cocaine’s effects is short and fleeting, especially when compared to other substances, which is partly why it has a high potential for abuse. Users may want to prolong the experience, which leads to repeat and frequent use.

The intensity and duration of cocaine’s effects can significantly vary depending on several other factors, too, including how it’s taken, the amount used, and how pure the drug is.

  • Snorting cocaine – This is one of the most common methods of cocaine use. When snorted, the effects can last for approximately 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Smoking or injecting cocaine – These methods produce a more immediate and intense effect. Smoking or injecting cocaine results in effects that last for about 5 to 10 minutes.


How Long Can It Be Detected in Your System?

Although the effects of cocaine wear off fast, no matter how it’s taken, the substance can stay in your system for much longer.

The detection window for how long cocaine can be detected depends on the type of drug testing method being used:

  • Urine tests – With a urine test, it can be detected in urine for 1-3 days after use. For heavy users, this window may extend up to a week.
  • Blood tests – Cocaine is detectable in the blood for up to 2 days.
  • Saliva tests – Blood or saliva test methods typically produce similar results. Saliva tests can also detect cocaine from a few minutes after use to up to 2 days.
  • Hair tests – Cocaine can be detected in hair follicles for several months after use, though this method reflects use over a longer period and not recent drug use.


The Risks of Taking Cocaine

Cocaine is an incredibly addictive substance, and it’s possible to start experiencing cravings, even after taking it only once. This makes it incredibly hazardous, which is one of the many reasons why it’s classed as a Class A drug substance – the category of drug reserved for the most dangerous substances.

What’s more, cocaine also poses significant risks to both mental and physical health, with some of which being immediate, whereas others may develop over time with continued use.

Mental Health Risks

Prolonged use can trigger mental health issues to form. This includes conditions such as anxiety, depression, and intense paranoia. In fact, in some cases, abuse of this substance can lead to psychosis, especially if there is a dopamine imbalance. Drug-induced psychosis (or a psychotic episode) is characterised by experiencing intense hallucinations and delusions, which are typically experienced in the form of visual and auditory disturbances.

Cocaine affects our judgment, leading to risky behaviours becoming a much more likely reality. This can include things such as dangerous driving or mixing substances (e.g. combining cocaine with drinking alcohol) which can have severe consequences.

What’s more, if someone were to continue taking cocaine over the long term, it would likely have an impact on cognitive functions. This can look like problems with retaining memories, and decision-making can feel harder to do.

When someone stops taking this drug (especially after regular use), it can result in severe cocaine withdrawal symptoms, which tend to have more of a psychological impact. These serious withdrawal symptoms can look like experiencing feelings of depression, fatigue, increased appetite, insomnia, vivid and unpleasant dreams, slowed thinking, and restlessness.

Physical Health Risks

Cocaine is a stimulant, meaning it increases our heart rate and blood pressure. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and cardiac arrest – even in young, healthy individuals.

Snorting this substance through the nose can also damage the nasal cavity and septum, leading to chronic problems. Additionally, smoking cocaine can cause respiratory issues, which have the potential to develop into permanent lung damage.

Other physical health implications of cocaine abuse include (but are not limited to):

  • Seizures and headaches.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular issues.
  • Strokes or brain haemorrhage.
  • Gastrointestinal complications, such as ulcers and perforations of the stomach or intestines.
  • Drug-related diseases (e.g. injecting cocaine with a needle that’s contaminated with Hepatitis).
  • Overdose, which can be fatal.


Find Addiction Treatment Programmes and Support Today

We hope you’ve found our article informative. If you’re struggling with addiction or a substance use disorder (or suspect a loved one might be), reach out to us today.

Our team of qualified professionals are ready to help, with the ability to provide you with details on how to navigate the next steps in the addiction recovery journey. Call us on 01908 489 421 for more information on substance abuse or the cocaine addiction treatment options we have available.

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