Most people think of snorting lines of cocaine when they think of cocaine abuse. It’s by far the most common way to ingest the white powder. However, some people choose to process the powder and then freebase the drug, or smoke it instead – often with deadly results.
The high produced from this method of ingestion is much more rapid in onset. Rather than traveling from the blood vessels in the nose to the heart, then pumped to the lungs, and then back to the heart before traveling to the brain, when a user freebases cocaine, the drug only has to travel from the lungs to the heart and up to the brain.
Unfortunately, the faster the drug gets to the brain, the more likely it is to become abused, and as a result, those who freebase cocaine very often become addicted – quickly.
According to a study published in the Journal of Addictive Diseases, there is evidence to support the fact that freebasing cocaine can lead to several lung function and respiratory disorders. These may include:
- Acute respiratory symptoms (e.g., chest pain, coughing, black sputum)
- Blockage to airflow in the large airways
- Abnormalities in lung function (e.g., impaired diffusing capability of the lung)
- Life-threatening acute lung injury
Thus, in addition to the other effects of cocaine use, those who freebase cocaine risk experiencing extreme respiratory ailments as well due to their chosen method of ingestion.
In a study published in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, six men smoked 50 milligrams of freebase cocaine so that researchers could track the cardiovascular effects of the drug. They found that 90 percent of the cocaine was delivered to the smoker in the first four puffs, and that that amount was enough to create the same intensity of effect on the cardiovascular system as a slightly higher dose of cocaine powder.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, and Toxicology, the cardiovascular effects of cocaine include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Increased myocardial demand for oxygen
- Decreased coronary blood flow
When decreased coronary blood flow occurs when the myocardial demand for oxygen is increased, the result can be a number of deadly issues, including cardiac arrhythmias, pulmonary edema, myocardial infarction and other medical emergencies.
Additionally, the report found that those addicted to cocaine were more likely to experience:
- Hemorrhagic stroke
- Aortic aneurysm rupture
Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Abuse
When someone freebases cocaine regularly for a long period of time, there are a number of risks that are likely to become reality. These include:
- Extreme changes in the brain, especially a decrease in dopamine
- Higher tolerance for the drug
- Extreme cravings for the substance
- Increased sensitivity to the anxiety, panic, and paranoia caused by the drug
- Panic attacks
- Full-blown psychosis
Cocaine Treatment: A New Tomorrow
Despite the deadly nature of the drug and the serious effects of long-term use, there is some evidence to suggest that treatment may not only help to stop these health problems from worsening but, in some cases, may reverse some of the damage, especially the changes in the brain. Depending upon how long the drug was used, the dose and frequency of use, and other issues such as underlying medical or mental health disorders, a full recovery may be possible.
Additionally, new medications are being developed all the time with the goal of reversing the damage done by cocaine addiction. Learn more about the treatment services that are currently available and how we can help you or your loved one to recover from cocaine abuse or addiction here at The Oaks at La Paloma today.