What happens to your body when you use cocaine?

Short-Term Effects

Cocaine is a stimulant so it gives the body a feeling of stimulation and alertness, which can be both pleasurable and harmful. Cocaine’s short-term effects appear quickly and disappear within a few minutes to an hour. How long and intense the effects are depends on the method of use. Here are some of the ways cocaine affects the body:

  • extreme happiness and energy
  • mental alertness
  • sensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • irritability
  • paranoia (feeling that people are out to get you)
  • constricted blood vessels and dilated pupils
  • higher body temperature
  • higher blood pressure and faster heartbeat, leading to higher risk of heart attack or stroke
  • feeling sick to the stomach
  • restlessness
  • decreased appetite and, over time, a loss of weight
  • inability to sleep

Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of cocaine depend, in part, on the method of use and include the following:

  • snorting: loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds, nasal damage, and trouble swallowing
  • smoking: cough, asthma, and lung damage
  • consuming by mouth: damage to intestines (between the stomach and anus) caused by reduced blood flow
  • needle injection: higher risk for HIV and hepatitis (a liver disease) through shared needles (read more about the link between viral infections and drug use)
  • all methods: poor nutrition and weight loss