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Cocaine a well-known drug of abuse that is manufactured by processing the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine has a rich history of use by many of the indigenous tribes in Central and South America in addition to its illicit use throughout the world. Cocaine also still has some medicinal uses, such as being used as an anesthetic for eye surgery or nasal surgery; however, its distribution in the United States is tightly controlled as it is classified as a controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (a Schedule II controlled substance, which is the highest level of control offered to drugs that can be obtained with a prescription).
Very often, individuals who snort cocaine suffer effects to their nasal passages. According to several articles published in the journal Plastic Reconstructive Surgery:
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), chronic use of stimulant drugs, like cocaine, leads to decreased appetite that may be due to activation of the sympathetic nervous system that is most often involved in speeding up bodily actions and functions. Certain stimulant drugs, like amphetamines, have been used for weight loss due to their ability to speed up an individual’s metabolism and suppress appetite. Chronic use of stimulant drugs like cocaine may result in weight loss in some individuals.=
Recent research has suggested that weight loss associated with cocaine use (and other stimulants) may not quite be that simple, however. For instance, research articles published in the journals Appetite and The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse suggest the following:
Before readers get the notion that using cocaine may be a great diet aid, it should be noted that while some individuals who chronically abuse cocaine do lose weight, once the individual stops using cocaine, there is almost an inevitable rebound effect, and the individuals gain significantly more weight than they lost. Thus, individuals using stimulants for weight loss inevitably have to change their diet anyway.
In addition, chronic use of cocaine has numerous other detrimental effects to an individual’s health, including increased potential for heart attack, stroke, cognitive difficulties, and, of course, the development of an addiction. Thus, using cocaine is not a sound strategy for weight loss.
A very common symptom of any drug use or abuse is the experience of dry mouth (xerostomia). Different types of drugs produce this effect through different mechanisms. Stimulant drugs activate the sympathetic nervous system, which has been shown to decrease salivation in individuals. Thus, the stimulant effects of cocaine probably account for its common side effect of producing dry mouth. Chronic issues with dry mouth can lead to serious issues with dentition, as saliva helps to protect the mouth and teeth from infections.
Another common effect of drug or alcohol abuse is reddening of the eyes or the appearance of bloodshot eyes. Cocaine and other stimulants as well as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC: the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana or cannabis) and certain types of hallucinogenic drugs, like mescaline, result in the pupils of the eyes having a delayed reaction, or a lack of a reaction, to light. This results in these drugs producing dilated pupils.
In addition, cocaine use activates the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to a constriction of blood vessels and increased blood pressure. This can lead to bloodshot eyes, and it can also lead to significant damage to the cornea. The symptoms can often last longer than the actual effects of the cocaine, and individuals may experience sensitivity to light, reddened eyes, and other issues for hours or even days after the psychoactive effects of cocaine have dissipated.
The best way to avoid these troublesome side effects associated with cocaine abuse is to get into a recovery program and stop using the drug.