Since cocaine remains to be one of the most controversial issues worldwide, this research involves the study of its short and long-term effects on the brain. The main objective of the research is to identify the ways cocaine is capable of influencing the human body, determine which part of the body is affected by means of cocaine abuse, discover different kinds of effects caused by cocaine usage, and analyze the reasons for its addiction. Throughout the research, it was found that cocaine as any kind of drugs has a tremendous effect on the brain, particularly general physical condition. People can consume cocaine in different ways, namely snorting, injecting, and smoking. In regard to these types, people are required to respond to cocaine in different ways. Furthermore, the effects caused by means of cocaine can also vary considering personal factors of the individual. In addition, it was estimated that the dependence on cocaine usually requires the individual treatment and rehabilitation, as all people have different health state.
For many centuries, the humanity has used different kinds of drugs for various purposes. While some drugs are designed for medical treatment, the others tend to be used for personal entertainment. Certain types of drugs are capable of assisting treat or relieve the pain of various diseases; however, more frequently, numerous people consume drugs to enhance their feeling of pleasure. Nevertheless, abuse of the majority of drugs is expected to be illegal since their careless handling is required to lead to lethal accidents. Cocaine is not only one of the most dangerous in the list but also the most popular narcotics. For example, people support it to withdraw various symptoms, namely severe fatigue, agitation or depression, and increased tolerance and sense of euphoria. Despite aforementioned benefits of cocaine, it can become the reason for health disorders. Cocaine is the kind of drugs that directly affects the brain and can trigger addiction; thus, it is crucial to comprehend its mechanism of action and symptoms it provokes.
The Description of Cocaine
Cocaine is a tropane alkaloid which is usually found in the leaves of the plant called coca. Considering its chemical structure, cocaine comprises three different parts, including lipophilic, hydrophilic, and aliphatic group. It is commonly consumed in the form of white powder and freebase. Hydrochloride salt forms the cocaine powder, which is capable of dissolving in water. People usually do not consume cocaine powder in its pure form. Therefore, it can be mixed with different substances, including talcum powder, baking soda, and cornstarch.
Moreover, people can take it along with other kinds of drugs such as amphetamines or procaine. Freebase, on the contrary, is composed of the hydrochloride salt, which has not been neutralized by an acid. Crack cocaine is cocaine applied by means of smoking. It comprises the sodium bicarbonate and some liquids. Cocaine in the liquid state is produced by means of adding various kinds of liquids. Different clandestine laboratories are responsible for cocaine production. Considering its structure, cocaine is similar to atropine and scopolamine.
Schedule II drug is another name for cocaine, which traditionally operates as a strong central nervous system stimulant. It interferes with dopamine reabsorption, a chemical operator usually related to pleasure and movement (Hyman, 2008). Such connection causes the formation of dopamine, which remains to be the part of the brainВ’s reward system (Green, Dykstra, & Carelli, 2015).
Consequently, cocaine can be consumed as mean, which enhances the feeling of euphoria and energy. There exist different ways to take cocaine. As a consequence, it can be snorted, injected, and smoked. Each type of administration has its potentially dangerous effects. When one smokes cocaine, it can reach the brain extremely quickly, as opposed to snorting. Careless usage of equipment in case of cocaine injecting can lead to acquisition or transmission of infections, namely HIV, AIDS or Hepatitis C.Therefore, cocaine is capable of not only bringing pleasure to the individual but also becoming a reason for dangerous disorders.
Penetration of Cocaine into the Brain
Since there exist different kinds of cocaine usage, there are various ways it can penetrate into the brain. For example, when cocaine is snorted by an individual, the human body accepts it through the blood vessels. Then, it reaches the bloodstream and after traveling throughout the body, cocaine enters the blood-brain barrier (Kumar, 2011). While reaching the brain, cocaine prevents the neurotransmitter dopamine from being recycled. Consequently, excessive amounts of dopamine are deposited between nerve cells. Such dopamine flood is the reason for a sense of being extremely high; thus, it undermines the normal work of the brain.
Futhermore, cocaine can be injected, which usually has a more rapid effect on the brain. Cocaine reaches the brain through the bloodstream for only fifteen minutes. When it finally enters the brain, cocaine directly effects dopamine neurotransmitter processes. Moreover, its tremendous effect can be explained by the fact that cocaine increases the amount of dopamine present in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for pain regulation and pleasure sensations throughout the whole body. Over some period, the brain refuses to control the cocaineВ’s effect (Garavan, Kaufman, & Hester, 2008). Therefore, the level of dopamine in the brain is completely dependent on the cocaine amount.
The most effective way of cocaine penetration into the brain is smoking. It takes cocaine about nine seconds to reach the brain, while its effects last for thirty minutes. When cocaine is smoked, it enters the blood through the lungs extremely quickly and effectively. Furthermore, when the smoke comes across the large surface area in the lungs, it enters the membrane and reaches the brain within several seconds. While smoking cocaine, people become more alert, energized, and awake, as opposed to snorting and injecting. As a consequence, one can experience the muscle tension and heartbeat increase. Usually, the greater amount of dopamine is released under the influence of cocaine.
The Effect of Cocaine on the Brain
Similarly to other amphetamines, cocaine can act by means of different mechanisms affecting the brain. Numerous pieces of research have identified the main effect cocaine on the brain. It directly influences the central nervous system blocking the dopamine, which is responsible for transportation of protein. Such function prevents dopamine from the recycling process. Consequently, since the amount of dopamine is excessive, a junction between neurons occur. An enhanced and prolonged post-synaptic effect follows the occurrence of the junction; thus, the dopamine receptors signal on the receiving neuron.Furthermore, cocaine acts, as the cause of serotonin and noradrenaline inhibiting. In addition, it has a direct membrane effect. The effect of cocaine hinders the initiation and conduction of the brainВ’s impulses within nerve cells; thus, it prevents the rapid increase in cell membrane permeability to sodium ions during the depolarization. The stimulation of CNS remains to be the most noticeable systemic activity of cocaine. As a consequence, cocaine alters the uptake and metabolism of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
In addition, cocaine is characterized by means of the ability to increase the neurotransmitters quantity at the postsynaptic receptor sites; thus, the arterial pressure rises in the nervous system of the brain. Considering its short term, cocaine acts as a mean of dopaminergic neurotransmission stimulation. Such phenomenon can be explained by the block to the dopamine reuptake. Therefore, it is suggested that the usage of cocaine for a long time makes dopamine able to deplete the nerve terminals. Obviously, dopamine neurotransmission alterations can be responsible for the compulsive pattern of cocaine use. When the doses of cocaine become higher and are consumed regularly, other systems of neurotransmission can be involved.
The Part of the Brain Affected by Cocaine
Different types of stimuli, including food, perfumes, sex, and some kinds of drugs, usually stimulate the mesolimbic system in the brainВ’s reward pathway. This pathway is placed in a region of the midbrain; thus, the middle region of the brain can be called as ventral tegmental area. Moreover, the circuit of reward is responsible for emotions and sense of motivation. While the normal communication process acts, neurons release dopamine into the synapse (Green et al., 2015). Dopamine is linked with such protein as dopamine receptor on the neighboring neuron. Regarding such process of transmission, dopamine acts as a chemical messenger, which transfers the signal from one neuron to another. Transporter is another protein, which function is to remove dopamine from the synapse. As a consequence, dopamine is capable of being further used.
Short-Term Effects of Cocaine
Despite the fact that cocaine becomes more dangerous when it is used frequently, one-time or two-time cocaine usage can be damaging to the health and brain. If the brain structures are damaged in case of cocaine use, a person is capable of developing addiction. Cocaine is characterized by means of causing different short-term effects on the brain. For example, a short-lived and intense high can be caused if a person initially consumes cocaine. Consequently, the person is capable of experiencing such immediate symptoms as depression and anxiety. Reliant on the way of cocaine usage, it is capable of really rapidly acting. Since dopamine plays a role in a registration of positive emotions and the sense of euphoria, its increase accompanied with cocaine may result in addiction. The desired effects of cocaine usage is capable of including the increased energy, mood elevation, and grandiosity. Some people consume cocaine to enhance their performance or to reach their goals.
Consequently, cocaine decreases the request for slumber for a little while; thus, one can use it to stay alert and awaken. Studying or accomplishing a difficult task can be the reason for such cocaine abuse. Moreover, cocaine is capable of surmounting the hunger and suppressing the appetite. As a consequence, some people consume it as a mean, which helps them lose their weight. Short-term effects of cocaine are usually unwanted. For example, a person can suffer from the sense of anxiety and stimulation. Furthermore, cocaine abuse can cause panic and paranoia.
Cocaine has the feature to block a normal reabsorption of hormones, which are responsible for desire and pleasure. Brain cells normally cycle and reuse such hormones as serotonin and dopamine. This process plays an essential role, since one is capable of experiencing motivation, reward, and desire. Apparently, after their release, brain cells tend to send out their signals and a special receptor on the cell accepts them. These receptors are usually blocked by cocaine, which effectively prevents its normal cycling process. As a result, hormones related to peopleВ’s senses of pleasure and behavior reinforcement stay in surplus. A person can become more talkative and alert while using this kind of drug.
Long-Term Effects of Cocaine
A large number of factors are capable of influencing the diversity of long-term effect of cocaine on the brain. Since the nature of people is usually different, such factors as exact duration of cocaine usage, the frequency of its usage, the format, administration, and its dosage can be crucial while abusing cocaine. The time span of cocaine abuse may be very important while the number and severity of long-term effects are identified. If one, for example, uses cocaine for a long period of time, he or she is more likely to suffer from unwanted effects. Using this kind of drug just for a year of two, a person is not capable of feeling any symptoms.
Consequently, in view of the time period of cocaine abuse, the diversity of long-term effects experienced by the person may differ. Futhermore, the frequency of cocaine usage plays an important role in the way the brain experience cocaine side effects. Obviously, people using cocaine regularly for a long period of time are capable of suffering from much more severe effects, as opposed to those who consume it more rarely. As a consequence, the more frequently one uses cocaine, the higher possibility that he or she would end up with experiencing other severe and prolonged long-term effects. The person who uses cocaine once or twice a month will not suffer from such long-term symptoms, as opposed to one with a long period of drug abuse. Consequently, the frequency of cocaine use is a crucial factor for experiencing different long-term effects. The form of cocaine administration is capable of having a great influence on the side effects caused by means of cocaine use. Thus, in regard to the way cocaine is used, the amount and number of effects may vary. Moreover, smoking cocaine leads to it rapid entrance of the brain, which is supposed quicker than in the process of snorting. Smoking has an immediate effect on the brain. The amount of the administrated drug determines the severance of long-term effects the person may suffer from. Therefore, the larger dose of cocaine is abused the more long-term effects can be experienced. For example, if a person smokes or snorts cocaine in large quantity, he or she completes with more health problem than those people who use it in small amounts. Obviously, taking into account the amount of the dose, cocaine can cause a large number of long-term effects for the brain to suffer from. Similarly to other factors, individual variation factor plays a crucial role in the determination of cocaine long-term effects. The age of an individual who uses cocaine can significantly contribute to the variation of cocaine effects. For example, quite young person, his or her brain is more prone to the cocaine influence and, as a result, it can affect their brain more effectively. When the person is older, his/ her brain and general health condition is more developed and hardened. Consequently, such people are more resistant to cocaine effects. In addition, the diet, genetics, exercise habits, sleep patterns determine the side effects of cocaine abuse. Some people, for example, having more favorable genetics, experience fewer health problems, while using the drug.
All types of cocaine consumption are capable of becoming a reason for the long-term damage to human brain. It usually occurs as a form of emotional or mood disturbances (Basu & Basu, 2015). Since cocaine directly interferes with dopamine, which is normally reabsorbed by neurons, a serious depression can be experienced by the person. For example, when a person has tried to struggle with the long-term cocaine usage, and his or her brain has not reached its original equilibrium, such effect as permanent depression may be caused (Hyman, 2008). There exist a number of other long-term effects influencing mood and humanВ’s mental health. They include auditory hallucinations, restlessness, paranoia, and psychosis. Moreover, people who are prone to suffer from any mental diseases in their ordinary life, more rapidly have an increased potential to experience drug negative effects. In addition, the stress hormone of cortisol can be increased under the influence of cocaine. Such hormone places in the brain and can cause raise the blood pressure immediately and, as a result, the cardiovascular system of a person can be damaged.
Speaking about the damage cocaine has on the brain more detailed, several effects can be undermined. While using this kind of drug for a long time, the humanВ’s brain tends to accelerated aging. The brain of a person using cocaine tends to age quicker than of a person who does not abuse any kinds of drugs. It happens due to the significant losses of the grey matter amount in the areas of the brain, which remain to be very important. Therefore, the usage of cocaine can cause functional deficits in different regions of the brain, thereby making the humanВ’s blood vessels suffer from the abuse of cocaine. While penetrating cocaine, blood vessels placed in the brain of a person may be significantly damaged. Consequently, the susceptibility to experiencing a stroke is capable of being caused by such effect; thus the overall speed of blood flow suffers is cocaine is frequently used.
Considering the long-term effects of cocaine, it can trigger various cognitive deficits. Since the level of dopamine increases, while using cocaine, the activity in the prefrontal cortex decreases. The processes, namely the process of data, attention, and logic deviate in people who consume cocaine. Furthermore, the impression of this part of the brain can lead to suffering from the signs similar to ADHD. Emotional dysfunction remains to be one of the most common effects of cocaine has on the brain. Various emotional disturbances, namely aggression, anger, apathy, depression or paranoia premised either the brain alterations in regional functioning or the neurotransmitter changes (Basu & Basu, 2015). Nevertheless, a person is capable of avoiding the majority of these emotional disturbances if one refuses cocaine abuse.
The brainВ’s gray matter is suffering from cocaine use. Individuals who has the cocaine addiction, amount of gray matter can be reduced. For example, people who have been using cocaine for a long time lost almost 3,08 milliliters of their gray matter. Therefore, many studies on cocaine effects on the brain report that people who use cocaine frequently can suffer from constant headaches. Such phenomenon can be caused by different reasons. Brain damage, changes in brain activity and blood flow, and blood damage constriction can be the reason for a headache. In addition to this, some people may suffer from migraines, while using cocaine. One more potential effect of cocaine use is the dysregulation of receptors. As a result, neurotransmitter receptors responsible for dopamine regulation may experience dysregulation. Some experts claim that one of the cocaine long-term usage effect is stroke risk. A stroke relates to the deficiency of blood flow in the brain. Consequently, a person frequently using cocaine is capable of experiencing irreversible mental impairment.
Factors leading to cocaine addiction may vary within the person. Some individuals are capable of using cocaine for several times and feel its effect on their bodies. As opposed to others, they help to abuse cocaine longer to experience the symptoms it causes. Addiction to cocaine is dependent on the frequency and dosage of the drug. The bigger dosage of cocaine one takes, the higher risk of addiction he or she experiences. Usually, addiction may have the root of cocaine usage from the early age (Volkow, Fowler, & Wang, 2003). Many adults become suffering from cocaine addiction since their teen age. As a consequence, teenagers are the most prone to become addicted, since their brain is still developing. Furthermore, the parts of the brain, which control decision-making and impulsivity are mature enough (Garavan et al., 2008). Consequently, using cocaine at this age stunt the brain development and lead to addiction. In other words, when the brain feels the effect of cocaine for the first time, it will assist it in the further functioning. Moreover, at the time a person is capable of assisting higher doses of cocaine, which leads to the psychological damage. Short-term effects of cocaine are capable of being immediately experienced even during the process of the drug penetration. Long-term effects require more time to be felt. The exact way of drug addiction treatment or rehabilitation is still unknown. The process is reliant on the individual factors of the person (Volkow et al., 2003). Some people who consumed cocaine for a long is capable of even not being able to fully recover. After an appropriate treatment, others will be able to fully recover. Nevertheless, it is better to quit cocaine abuse as soon as possible since it is capable of precipitating the disastrous effects.
Cocaine as any other kind of drug is consumed for different purposes. While the healthcare field is required to benefit from the cocaine exploitation, its free usage remains to be illegal. Since cocaine comprises different narcotic elements, people can suffer significantly from its abuse. Regarding the way cocaine is administrated, it can cause various short-term and long-term effects on the brain. Furthermore, the frequent usage and big amount of cocaine can lead to its addiction. As a consequence, people is required to refrain from cocaine abuse, as it leads not only to mental disorders but also to other physical deviations.