The Effects of Cocaine on the Body

As with all induced chemicals, cocaine has a nasty effect on the body. What does it do? Read on.

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant that produces its sympathetic effects via inhibiting the release of substances called dopamine transporter, or substances that recycle the neurotransmitters, which degrade the norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, thereby allowing the latter to accumulate in the synaptic space. Neurotransmitters are substances that relay or transmit electrical signals from neuron to neuron, also called brain cells.

Cocaine effects

Cocaine causes dopamine to flood in huge amounts in the synaptic cleft; this is the space between two neurons, by disabling the substance responsible for clearing up the dopamine so that it does not accumulate.

When the norepinephrine accumulates in the synaptic space, electrical signals are transmitted continually and with no interruption to the next neuron, which then produces the "excitatory" effects on the individual like hallucinations and cardiac effects. This then wreaks havoc on the long chain of neurons responsible for keeping the normal condition of your whole body.

What happens usually is that the transporter reuptakes the released neurotransmitter so that it does not accumulate in excess amounts. When it is reuptaken, it is recycled for next use. If that transporter is disabled, the neurotransmitter will accumulate this losing physiologic balance.

Habitual use of cocaine leads to homeostatic dysregulation of normal dopaminergic signaling via down-regulation of dopamine receptors and enhanced signal transduction. The reduced dopaminergic signaling may contribute to depressive mood disorders and sensitize this important brain reward circuit to the reinforcing effects of cocaine. This sensitization contributes to the intractable nature of addiction and relapse.