Cocaine– sometimes referred to as “coke,” “blow,” or “powder”– can be snorted, smoked, or injected. Central nervous system stimulants like cocaine act on serotonin and dopamine and have been around since the early 20th century. Its effects can last anywhere between five and fifteen minutes.
Symptoms of acute stimulant intoxication include quickened or erratic heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, and, at worst, cardiogenic shock and circulatory collapse.
Cocaine use tightens and shrinks blood vessels, and prolonged use may result in the death of tissues that depend on these vessels. Other potential complications from use include cardiac arrest, stroke, sudden death, seizure, and serotonin syndrome. Physical symptoms and behavioral changes resulting from cocaine use are understandably a cause for concern for loved ones of those using.
Stimulant and cocaine dependence, while not physically addictive, creates a very strong psychological dependence that develops quickly. Stimulants disrupt neuronal pathways by creating an unnatural flow of dopamine to the brain. It is for this reason that cocaine and amphetamines are among the most addictive substances.
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