Once someone become addicted to cocaine, quitting without relapse become extremely difficult, even after long periods of abstinence. National Institute of Drug Abuse research has shown that even after long periods of abstinence, exposures to triggers associated with cocaine - or even memories of past cocaine experiences - can set off tremendous cravings and relapses.
When cocaine users continue to use the drug, the brain begins to change its reward system. A tolerance to the drug can develop, meaning that higher or more frequent doses of cocaine is needed to produce the high experienced on initial use.
At the same time, users can become more sensitive to cocaine's anxiety-producing, convulsant and other toxic effects.
With repeated cocaine binges, when the drug is used repeatedly at increasingly higher doses, the user can risk adverse psychological and physiological effects, including:
The method by which cocaine is used can produce specific adverse effects. Snorting cocaine can lead to:
- Loss of the sense of smell
- Problems swallowing
- Irritation of the nasal septum
- Chronic inflamed, runny nose
Those who inject cocaine with needles can develop "tracks" on their forearms and other areas. They can also develop allergic reactions, both to the cocaine itself or to additives used to cut the drug by street dealers.
According to the NIDA, many chronic cocaine users lose their appetite and experience significant weight loss and show signs of malnourishment.
There are other long-term effects of using cocaine over a period of time.
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National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Cocaine: Abuse and Addiction." Research Report Series Updated September 2010