Cocaine belongs to a group of psychostimulants related to the category of psychotropic substances. It has a specific hallucinogenic effect and negatively influences the human body. The pharmacology of cocaine is complex. Its physiological effects on the human body are extremely unfavorable making cocaine a dangerous toxic agent.
About fourteen percent of U.S. adults have tried cocaine. One out of more than forty adults has used it in the previous years of their lives. Young people aged between 18 and 25 years are the main consumers of cocaine, including almost ten percent of those who had used it in the previous twelve months (Schifano & Corkery, 2008). Smoking or injecting cocaine leads to almost instant effect. Rapid absorption by nasal tissue makes sniffing cocaine effective, too.
Regardless of the way of consumption, cocaine quickly enters into blood and penetrates into the brain. After the recognition of its ability to cause drug addiction, cocaine was banned for medical use. In the case of consuming cocaine intravenously, it causes profound negative effects compared with smoking cocaine paste. If nasal cocaine drug is absorbed into the bloodstream relatively slowly, when smoking, the drug penetrates into the organism instantaneously. When it is used together with alcohol, the body produces a substance kokaetilen (etilkokain), which can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias.
Pharmacology of Cocaine
Being a resistant compound, cocaine is easily destroyed in the tissues, especially the liver, thus rendered harmless. The destruction in the tissue goes quickly. The liver is able to break the minimum lethal dose of cocaine for 60 minutes. As all body tissues are capable to destroy cocaine, its injection in excessive amounts is supported by delay in the injection site. Cocaine is almost completely destroyed in the body, while only a small part of this substance is excreted by the kidneys in an unchanged form.
The influence of cocaine on the central nervous system develops in descending order, but the excitement and inhibition of its various functions are distinguished by regularity. Therefore, cocaine poisoning can manifest itself differently (Tarter, Ammerman, & Ott, 2013). Most of all cocaine acts on the cerebral cortex cause an abrupt breakdown of higher nervous activity. Under the influence of cocaine, there develops a kind of mental stimulation. The subject experiences a rapid change of ideas and becomes talkative. Fatigue, thirst, and hunger weaken. The subject experiences a surge of mental and physical strength. There is a kind of euphoria, hallucinations, and amplified erotic emotions.
Cocaine is a vasoconstrictor that damages the blood vessels. It increases respiration rate and body temperature and suppresses the gag reflex. In large doses, it can cause tremors and cramps. These stimulation effects may result in the damage of the central nervous system causing respiratory distress and/or heart failure which can lead to death (Tarter, Ammerman, & Ott, 2013). After the repeated exposure to the cocaine of certain areas of the limbic system (a group of brain structures associated with emotion and motivation), cocaine users become more prone to attacks and epileptic seizures. Cocaine causes significant loss of appetite leading to serious weight loss and imbalance of nutrients. Cocaine consumption causes sleep disturbances. Symptoms of cocaine psychosis usually include paranoia, persecution mania, visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations, depression, and loss of motivation.
Cocaine is the reason for frequent visits to emergency rooms as compared to any other illicit drug. Cocaine harms the brain, heart, blood vessels, and lungs, and can even lead to sudden death.
Cocaine is bad for the heart. It increases the heart rate and blood pressure by narrowing arteries that supply blood to the heart. The result can be a heart attack even in young people without heart disease. Cocaine can also cause fatal heart rhythm disturbances called arrhythmias (Porrino, Smith, Nader, & Beveridge, 2007).
This drug can constrict blood vessels in the brain leading to a stroke. This can happen even with young people who have no other risk factors for a stroke. Cocaine causes seizures and can trigger bizarre or aggressive behavior. Inhaling cocaine damages nose and sinuses. Regular use can lead to perforation of the nasal cavity. Smoking crack cocaine irritates the lungs and, in some cases, causes permanent lung damage.
Cocaine can trigger a sudden overwhelming renal failure through a process called rhabdomyolysis. Regular cocaine use may speed up the long-term damage to the kidneys caused by high blood pressure, especially if the users are people with high blood pressure (Porrino, Smith, Nader, & Beveridge, 2007).
Although cocaine has a reputation of an aphrodisiac, it can actually lead to disturbances in sexual life. Persistent use of cocaine can lead to poor sexual function in both men and women. In men, cocaine can lead to delayed or abnormal ejaculation.
Cocaine is a toxic substance for the human body that has a negative influence through chewing, smoking, snorting, injecting, etc. The pharmacology of cocaine is accompanied by the physiological effects of this substance on the human body. A common effect of cocaine is absolutely negative despite primary emotional outbursts.