Cocaine is a drug derived from the coca leaf, which is native to South America. Dried coca leaves are ground up with several additives, such as laundry detergents and creatine. The resulting powder, which is most commonly snorted, is shipped internationally as one of the most significant illicit drug trades in the world. It is illegal in nearly every country.
There are many effects associated with the use of cocaine. These include:
Cocaine nose, or coke nose, is a common side effect of snorting cocaine. An estimated 2 million Americans use cocaine, and every user risks developing coke nose with prolonged and excessive use of the drug. In addition to this, there are many other side effects that cocaine users should be aware of. These include:
Coke nose is caused by excessively snorting of cocaine. It can occur gradually over many years. In extreme cases, it can occur after one prolonged period of excessive use. The condition arises when blood supply is cut off to the nasal membranes. While cocaine restricts blood flow, the substances cocaine is cut with also pose risks.
Coke nose can affect anybody who uses the drug long-term or frequently in the short-term. Symptoms of coke nose include:
Some symptoms of coke nose become worse over time — and other symptoms develop as long-term effects of the condition. Pain caused by coke nose damage can last for years after discontinuing use.
Disfiguration of the nose can also be severe and may require plastic surgery to repair. Long-term breathing issues are common, and surgery may be needed to fix deviated septums or other complications that affect breathing.
Some other long-term effects of cocaine use in addition to coke nose include:
Cocaine use can cause pupil dilation, which delays the reaction to light and causes redness and soreness. Cocaine also constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure, which also leads to red, bloodshot eyes. In more severe cases, this can cause significant damage to the cornea, which can damage the eyes long after the effects of the drug have dissipated.
An elevated heart rate is a result of how the drug interacts with the nervous system. Cocaine is a stimulant and affects the nervous system similar to other drugs in this class, causing a rapid heartbeat and higher than normal blood pressure.
Acute cocaine overdose can lead to seizures, cardiac arrest, and even death. The lethal dosage is different for each person and depends on several factors, such as tolerance levels, underlying conditions, and interaction with other ingested substances.
Sinus infections are very common with both long-term and short-term nasal cocaine use. These infections result from inflammation of nasal mucous membranes. This is caused by cocaine powder that enters the nasal cavity. The inflamed membranes are more susceptible to pathogens introduced either along with the drug or shortly afterward.
Snorting cocaine leads to many forms of nasal damage. This includes frequent runny nose, nosebleeds, septal perforation, saddle nose, and crusting of nasal passages.
A deviated nasal septum is a common side effect of excessive cocaine use and is often associated with coke nose. This requires surgery to fix and can lead to breathing problems if left untreated.
Cocaine drug use can be challenging to stop without help. There are several addiction treatment options available, including detox programs, inpatient treatment centers, and rehab facilities run by medical professionals.
While the withdrawal effects are not usually as life-threatening as stopping opioid or benzodiazepine use, treatment should still be sought for anybody who uses cocaine regularly and wants to quit.
NIDA “Cocaine.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/cocaine
NIDA. "What are the short-term effects of cocaine use?." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 Jun. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use
DEA. “Cocaine.” United States Drug Enforcement Administration. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/cocaine