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Long-term Cocaine Abuse—and Your Brain

An attractive young man sits on the grass, playing his guitar.
People use cocaine for a reason—short-lived euphoria. But they can’t compare to the long-lasting joys of a life well lived.


Unbridled euphoria. A feeling of intense excitement and happiness. Pure pleasure.

Those are some of the ways cocaine users describe the high that cocaine delivers. Unfortunately, that high comes at a price. In addition to harming the body (and the risk of death and overdose), cocaine damages the way the brain works.

After the initial high (which can be as short as a few minutes), cocaine causes feelings that can best be described as the opposite of euphoria, including depression, fatigue, agitation, paranoia and severe mood swings.

The fastest way to feel better? More cocaine.

It’s easy to see how quickly tolerance—and addiction—can happen. And that’s when cocaine begins to cause both physical and mental long-term damage.

The Long-term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine allows dopamine (the body’s pleasure-producing neurotransmitter) to temporarily build up in the brain.

If that happens often enough, the body begins to adapt. Before you know it, you’ll need cocaine just to feel normal. And when you can’t get it, you’ll feel agitated and depressed. You’ll lose interest in everything you used to enjoy. Only cocaine will matter. Severe paranoia and auditory hallucinations are other possible long-term side effects of cocaine use.

Long-term cocaine abuse can cause even more serious consequences to the brain, including Parkinson’s disease. Cognitive function can also occur, making it difficult to sustain attention, control impulses, perform motor tasks, remember things and make decisions.

Because of how cocaine changes the brain, quitting isn’t just a question of will-power and determination. The right treatment center will have a team of doctors, psychologists and therapists who understand how cocaine changes the brain—and are skilled in helping you overcome the hurdles to long-term sobriety.

Hope at The Raleigh House

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that believes addiction isn’t just a physical problem. That is especially true of cocaine, which changes the way the brain works. Our team of doctors, therapists, nurses and even a nutritionist knows how to best help—and give hope to—those in recovery for cocaine abuse. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the cocaine addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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