The effects of cocaine are fast acting. Cocaine gives the feeling of pleasure making the person feel very alert and focused and as if they have large amounts of energy. Cocaine can also make the person feel almost superhuman but the impact is short lived. Feelings can be very intense and then the person will experience the effects of cocaine wearing off relatively quickly. This is known as ‘a come down’, where the person will experience depression and will feel exhausted and possibly experience hallucinations and hearing voices as a result of sleep deprivation after long periods of using the drug.
The physical consequences of the drug are dilated pupils, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, increased blood pressure and nose bleeds. Other effects include paranoia, restlessness, feelings of anger, short temper and aggression. The person can become very excitable. The long term physical effects from prolonged cocaine use are anxiety, sweating, loss of weight from not eating and nausea. Repeated use of the drug if taken through the nose causes sinus problems around the ears, nose, throat and eyes and can result in the loss of the septum due to the restriction of the blood flow around the nose where the nose tissue dies. Other risks of taking cocaine include cocaine-induced heart attacks, strokes, HIV or hepatitis which can be contracted by sharing implements used to snort cocaine.
Users who continue to use the drug will increase the amount used as their tolerance increases and as they try to get the same effect as from their first initial high. As their habit increases users will develop a pattern of noticeable mood changes and will notice they appear to have a cold or running nose for long periods of time. Their sleeping pattern will be noticeably irregular; other indications are a tired or withdrawn look and increased spending or borrowing of money or not paying bills etc.
As the user continues in their addiction they will isolate away from family and friends. They will not want to interact with people and will want to be alone. They will become depressed as the drug stops giving the feeling of pleasure and as it becomes a necessity for the user to continue daily using larger and larger amounts of the drug. Although cocaine is not physically addictive, it is mentally addictive convincing the user that without using the drug everyday, challenges like being able to work or socialise seem impossible.
Thus it is a full circle – to start with the perception is that cocaine helps you to focus, but users eventually need it to cope with every day life.