Cocaine is a powerful stimulant and popular drug of abuse. It can be prescribed as an anesthetic for minor injuries but is rarely used in the medical community.
When cocaine enters the body, it affects multiple organs and processes. In the brain, the drug increases the release of dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine creates the pleasurable effects of cocaine, and, when released, can cause addiction.
Norepinephrine is responsible for elevating mood but also impacts the cardiovascular system. When cocaine increases norepinephrine, blood vessels throughout the body constrict; this increases blood pressure and decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to different organs.
Dangers of Polysubstance Abuse
Polysubstance abuse occurs when people mix more than one drug of abuse at a time. Cocaine is commonly mixed with alcohol, marijuana, prescription depressant, and other stimulants.
People may mix drugs to experience the effect of both at the same time. Others mix drugs to combat the side effects of other drugs. For example, some people use cocaine to combat the confusion and drowsiness from alcohol.
Polysubstance abuse is incredibly dangerous and unpredictable. It increases the risk of overdose, serious side effects, and less common drug interactions.
Mixing Cocaine with Other Stimulants
Mixing stimulants will increase the effects of each stimulant, producing some or all of the following side effects:
- Cocaine Mixed with Stimulants Side Effects
Constricted blood vessels
Dilated (larger than normal) pupils
Higher body temperature
Increased blood pressure
Nausea and vomiting
Rapid heart rate
Tremors and muscle twitching
When cocaine is mixed with another stimulant, a dangerous condition called Serotonin Syndrome can result. During Serotonin Syndrome, increased levels of serotonin hijack the body’s ability to regulate temperature, mood and muscle control. A person may experience tremors, rapid heart rate, agitation, confusion and hyperthermia (abnormally high body temperature). The symptoms are often severe and life-threatening.
Mixing cocaine with other stimulants greatly increases the risk of serotonin syndrome, especially if the person takes other medications that increase serotonin. These medicines include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and several over-the-counter cough medications.
Cocaine and MDMA
MDMA (sometimes referred to as molly) is a stimulant that also possesses traits of hallucinogens. Mixing cocaine and molly can significantly increase the risk of dehydration, jaw clenching, blood pressure, seizures, paranoia and heart problems.
Cocaine and Adderall
Adderall is a prescription medication that contains amphetamine salts. It is normally used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but can produce a high similar to cocaine if abused. The combined effects of these drugs increase risk to the heart and cardiovascular system.
Cocaine and Meth
This combination is similar to cocaine and Adderall. Methamphetamine is chemically similar to amphetamine salts in Adderall, though meth enters the brain in a higher percentage than Adderall. Cocaine and meth together greatly increase the risk of heart problems, sleep disturbances and mood and thought symptoms.
Cocaine and Caffeine
The effects of caffeine are mild compared to cocaine, but their combination increases the risk of heart damage. In fact, animal studies have shown caffeine to be more addictive than cocaine.
Signs of Cocaine Abuse
It can be difficult to spot cocaine abuse, but symptoms tend to increase in severity over time. Those who are abusing more than one stimulant at a time will have more visible side effects. Furthermore, it may take longer to recover from drug use.
Some signs of cocaine abuse may include:
- Cocaine Abuse Symptoms
Changes in mood and behavior
Changing friend groups
Lost sense of smell and taste
Lung damage and cough (smoked cocaine)
Problems with memory and attention
Problems with finances
Unexplained high or low energy levels
If you or someone you know is struggling to stop using cocaine or other stimulants, please call The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to ask about cocaine addiction treatment. The effects of abusing stimulants are difficult to notice at first, but they can cause permanent damage and lead to life-altering consequences. Call The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative about treatment options.
Mentalhelp. “Effects of Mixing Cocaine & Ecstasy.” 2009. Accessed November 10, 2019.
Muñiz, Javier A.; et al. “Cocaine and Caffeine Effects on the Conditioned Place Preference Test: Concomitant Changes on Early Genes within the Mouse Prefrontal Cortex and Nucleus Accumbens.” Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 2017. Accessed November 10, 2019.
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. “Polydrug Use.” Positive Choices, 2014. Accessed November 10, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cocaine.” 2019. Accessed November 10, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “What Are the Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?” 2019. Accessed November 10, 2019.
Volpi-Abadie, Jacqueline; et al. “Serotonin Syndrome.” 2013. Accessed November 10, 2019.
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