Effects of Cocaine on the Brain

Effects of Cocaine on the Brain

Cocaine, a very, very powerful narcotic comes from the leaves of the coca plants from South America, yet it’s produced synthetically by mixing the leaves with an array of chemicals like sulfuric acid, kerosene, caustic soda, and cement. When all those substances are liquified and boiled, the result is a solid “coka-paste” – solid cocaine. This substance acts on the central nervous system as a stimulant. It causes a quick, dramatic increase in brain activity, but not in a helpful way.

Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine mostly affects a part of the brain known as the ventral tegmental area or VTA. Normally in our brains, dopamine, a neurotransmitter, is reabsorbed via its transporter by the neuron which produced it. Cocaine blocks that transporter, effectively causing a dopamine build-up. Only 23-40% of dopamine can make it through the blockade after cocaine is introduced into the system.

Two other “feel-good” chemicals

These are: serotonin, which regulates mood; and norepinephrine, which is responsible for the flight-and-fight response. With the understanding of which chemicals cocaine effects and what those chemicals actually do, it’s easy to understand why cocaine causes the side-effects that it does. Cocaine increases blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory action. Whether someone experiences euphoria, paranoia, impulsivity, or hyperactivity from cocaine depends on the particulars of their brain, as well as the following.

Method Of Administration

How quickly cocaine reaches the brain depends on whether the user snorts or injects it. There isn’t a whole lot of variation here; it’s seconds versus minutes. The duration of effect is only about an hour, yet the high is intense. Once it wears off, users usually feel low and depressed, the result of serotonin/dopamine deficiency. This is the source of cocaine withdrawal. Though primarily psychological, it can turn very serious, very quickly.

Cocaine’s Reputation

Unlike its sister drug, crack, cocaine is glorified in the media. It’s more valuable than gold after all. We associate it with rich socialites, whereas the term “crack” has itself become synonymous with devastating addiction. The stark contrast is silly, considering that crack is made from cocaine simply by removing the hydrochloride salts from regular cocaine by mixing it with water or baking soda. Unlike regular cocaine, crack can actually be smoked on its own, without having to be sprinkled onto marijuana or tobacco flower buds. It’s a lot more powerful and a lot less costly, which is why many cocaine users eventually make the switch.

Is It Always Dangerous?

Hardly any drug is always harmful, in any dosage. (Although some, like, cocaine are always risky.) Sigmund Freud was known to use cocaine in small doses to battle depression, as have many other people in the past; sometimes, back in the day, this was under the direction of a doctor. The main problem with cocaine, which was quickly realized, is that it’s simply too abuse-prone. The risks outweigh the potential rewards. Cocaine abuse has been linked to the development of extreme paranoia and schizophrenia. The serotonin-related issues it is known to cause have been linked to depression, mood problems, and severe anxiety.

A cocaine problem is highly treatable with the right medication and guidance. If you can’t seem to stop, get detoxed and treated ASAP. Call Blueprints for Recovery at (888) 744-9969 for the compassionate support you need to battle your cocaine addiction.


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