NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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What Are the Short-Term Effects of Cocaine?

Cocaine increases the amount of dopamine in brain circuits that control movement and pleasure, making neurons (nerve cells) fire more. So for one thing, it can make you feel happy and excited, and you may talk, move, and think quickly. Cocaine also speeds up the rest of your body. Your heart beats faster, your body feels too hot, you might shake and twitch, and you don't sleep or eat much.

Your positive mood can also change. You can become angry, nervous, and afraid that someone's out to get you.

After the "high" of the cocaine wears off, you can "crash" and feel tired and sad for days. You also get a strong craving to take cocaine again to try to feel better.

Other effects include:

  • Feelings of sickness: Cocaine can cause stomach pain and headaches. It can make you shake, throw up, or pass out.
  • Decrease in appetite: Cocaine can make you not want to eat. Over time, you might lose a lot of weight and get sick.
  • Risk for heart attack and stroke: Cocaine raises your blood pressure and makes your heart beat faster. This can hurt your heart and give you a heart attack or a stroke. A stroke is a brain injury from a blood clot. These cocaine effects can cause death.
  • Risk for getting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis: People who inject cocaine can get HIV/AIDS and hepatitis if they share used needles. Hepatitis is a liver disease. People also get HIV by having unsafe sex. They may forget to use condoms because they're high on cocaine.