chronic cocaine use

What Chronic Cocaine Use Does To Your Body: 7 Health Risks Of Long Term Cocaine Use

With an estimated 1.5 million cocaine users in the United States, it isn’t hard to believe that this country has the largest market for the drug in the world.

Cocaine is a highly illegal stimulant that is often used at parties, but it is also one of the most addictive substances in the drug trade.

When abused, this drug can lead to some serious, even lethal, side effects that should be taken seriously.

Let’s talk about the effects of chronic cocaine use on the body and what to do about it.

7 Health Risks of Chronic Cocaine Use

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is synthesized from the coca plant. Not only is it going to hurt your wallet, being a highly expensive drug, but it really takes a toll on the body in the long-term.

Here are just some of the long-term effects of cocaine.

1. Blood Clots

Blood clots are very dangerous because of what they can lead to, including pulmonary embolisms, strokes, and aneurysms. This one symptom leads to more health risks than any other on this list, so it is best to avoid anything that causes blood clots.

If you are using cocaine regularly, you should be checked for blood clotting before it is too late. 

2. Damage to Mouth and Nose

People who snort cocaine will quickly find mouth and nasal issues. With drier environments and less blood flow, the soft tissues in the nose will become damaged and eventually die.

This will expose the cartilage lining between nasal cavities, which is the septum. Once the septal cartilage is exposed, it too will die, creating a hole.

3. Brain Problems

Your brain is everything. It is who you are. While blood clotting alone will do a lot of damage to your brain, long-term cocaine use causes structural and functional deterioration of the brain as well as hemorrhaging and movement disorders.

Not only that, it can inhibit your ability to feel pleasure by limiting the number of dopamine receptors. 

4. Respiratory Problems

While nasal congestion is the most common issue to arise, even from short-term use of cocaine, that isn’t all.

Sinus inflammation, shortness of breath, wheezing, and even coughing up blood are common among long-term users.

5. Mental Health Problems

Anxiety and depression are extremely common with chronic cocaine use. The stimulant effects of the drug are likely to cause anxiety while the addictiveness and pleasure-inhibiting aspects are likely to cause depression.

Many people will find themselves trapped in this addiction, and the sense of hopelessness makes them feel like treatment isn’t an option.

For people with mental health issues who are also addicted to cocaine, there is also dual diagnosis treatment available.

6. Heart Attacks

Blood clots and anginas, unfortunately, lead to this road. Because of its effect on the bloodstream and its stimulant properties, this is a drug that is known to kill heart muscles from a lack of oxygen.

This is the most dangerous long-term effect, and it should not be taken lightly. Any heart problems like palpitations or murmurs should be reported to a doctor immediately.

7. Damage to Other Systems

We went over a lot of devastating effects, but it barely scratches the surface. Kidney failure, ulcers, sexual dysfunction, and more serious ailments can arise from chronic cocaine use.

Perforation of the stomach and intestines are possible, same with viral hepatitis that leads to liver damage. Whatever the case is, this drug is scary for long-term users and needs to be treated appropriately.


Once the problem has been established, the best possible option to continue with a healthy life is treatment. Let’s talk about how to seek treatment for you or a loved one so the road to recovery can start as soon as possible.

Finding Treatment For a Loved One

If you believe that a loved one is abusing cocaine, the time to help is now. If you are unsure they have a history with the drug, there are a few behavioral clues to look for.

If they are constantly lying about their whereabouts, stealing, or they have serious mood swings, then it may be time to confront them about the issue in a loving way.

An intervention is the most effective way to help somebody realize the problem and seek treatment. However, it has to be done correctly.

The most important step when talking to a loved one about the problem is to stage an intervention properly.

Not only that, the road to recovery takes a lifetime, so offering as much support as you can handle is the best way to help them achieve sobriety and maintain it.

Finding Treatment For You

If you are abusing cocaine, the problems only get worse the longer you go. The physical and mental health problems will eventually get out of your control.

To prevent that, looking into treatment is the best option. Just remember, this isn’t an overnight battle. The key steps are admitting the problem, starting abstinence, and maintaining abstinence.

Maintaining abstinence is the longest and arguably most difficult portion of the process. Be sure to have plenty of support available to you after treatment.

Next Steps

The risks of chronic cocaine use are clearly devastating, and the risks of continuing are even worse.

Nobody can force you to quit, so if you are battling your addiction, it’s time to make a choice for the future of your health and your family.

Check out our treatment options and get started today.

Alcohol Addiction vs Dependence

Alcohol Detox: Addiction vs. Dependence

There’s often a lot of confusion around the topic of addiction. Things can get especially difficult to understand when it comes to the “addiction vs. dependence” debate. Most of the time, people are a little unsure about the difference between the two. Some even wonder if there’s a difference at all.

Maybe the confusion comes in because of the fact that the two terms are often used interchangeably. Many times, people refer to physical dependence as addiction and vice versa. But, truth be told, there are actually a few major differences between the two. These dissimilarities are certainly important to consider when it comes to substance use treatment.

Perhaps you’ve been wondering if dependence and addiction are two different things. Now that you know that they are definitely not the same, let’s talk about the ways in which they’re different and the importance of addressing each problem with these distinctions in mind.

Addiction vs. Dependence: Why All the Confusion?

For years, people have been referring to substance use disorder (SUD) using the generalized term of addiction. If someone struggles with an alcohol or drug use problem, people might assume that the individual has an addiction.

According to the Addiction Center, some treatment facilities have decided not to use the term “addiction” at all. This might be due to the belief that the word “carries too much negative connotation and is ambiguous”.

In order to eliminate that stigma, people have resorted to using the word “dependence” instead. But, of course, this has lead to confusion regarding the definition of addiction versus the definition of substance dependence.

Eventually, though, the phrase “substance use disorder” began to circulate as an alternative to “addiction”. Still, it’s evident that there is still a bit of confusion when it comes to dealing with these two topics.

When people think of the phrase “substance dependence”, they often think of it as a synonym of the word “addiction”. It would seem that, if a person depends on something, that individual is addicted to the substance. But, this most certainly is not the case.

Many individuals often become confused by the use of these varying terms because some treatment centers may opt to use one term while others will choose alternate terms. Some facilities refer to addiction using the word “dependence”, making it difficult to identify the true definitions between these terms.

The Importance of Acknowledging the Differences

So, why is it so important to pay attention to the dissimilarities between addiction and physical dependence? What’s the big deal? Is it really necessary to differentiate the two?

Well, when getting treatment for a substance use problem, it’s extremely important that your treatment center focuses on your individual needs. The best way to identify a good solution is to accurately identify the problem.

If you are suffering from an opioid dependence problem, you’ll need different treatment than someone who is struggling with an alcohol addiction problem.

So, in short, yes; it’s very necessary to understand and address the ways in which addiction and dependence differ in order to successfully treat those who are dealing with either of these problems.

What is Dependence and How Does it Develop?

When a person uses a drug for a while, even if the substance is medically prescribed, the body might start to get used to the way the drug affects it. Even if the person is using the drug as directed by his or her doctor, the individual’s body might build a tolerance for that substance.

Generally, it doesn’t take an extremely long time for people to develop substance dependence. In some cases, it can take just 6 months of regular and continuous use. As a person’s tolerance for a drug begins to increase, withdrawal symptoms begin to enter the scene, too.

This means that individuals who may stop using a drug that they’ve been using for a while, they will start to feel uncomfortable and feel the need to use the drug again in order to get a sense of normality back.

Tolerance and withdrawal are the two main factors that identify a dependence problem. And one important detail to note is that it’s definitely possible to be dependent on a substance without being addicted to it.

What is Dependence and How Does it Develop?

Addiction is different from dependence in the sense that this particular drug use problem is characterized by more compulsive drug use habits. People who are suffering from an addiction problem often experience major cravings and urges to use or drink.

Often, these uncontrollable cravings lead individuals to use drugs or alcohol “despite harmful consequences”, as the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states. Addiction is the inability to stop using drugs or alcohol and it often causes major problems in various areas of people’s lives.

Sometimes, people who are dealing with addiction problems have a hard time focusing on the important matters in life, including work responsibilities, schoolwork, family, friends, and much more.

Addiction also causes many emotional and physical consequences. It can lead to depression, isolation, and intense feelings of fear. Many drug addictions cause heart, liver, and brain damage.

Since addiction is also characterized by tolerance and withdrawal, it’s safe to say that many of the people who suffer from addiction also have dependency problems.

Getting Treatment for Your Struggle

As we mentioned earlier, it’s very important to seek help for your specific struggle. If you are dealing with a dependence problem, your treatment program should focus on helping you to work through withdrawal and live without having to use a substance.

If you are living with drug or alcohol addiction, your treatment program should deal specifically with the addiction as well as any underlying problems.

It’s best to seek professional guidance in figuring out exactly what your struggle is and how to approach that particular struggle. If you need help identifying and overcoming a drug or alcohol use problem in your life, the team here at 1st Step Behavioral Health can help you!

Just contact us today by calling (866) 319-6126.