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Some of the main risks of cocaine use are:

•    People who use cocaine regularly experience loss of appetite, weight and damage to their physical condition. Immunity weakens and the risk of infections by different viruses increases.

•    Cocaine constricts blood vessels, increases heart rate and blood pressure, which raises the risk of a heart attack or stroke. This can lead to sudden death.

•    Risk of addiction, both physical and psychological. The user experiences cravings and withdrawal symptoms if he or she stops using (slight tremor, sweating, tachycardia, elevated blood pressure and temperature).

•    Cocaine may cause gastrointestinal disorders such as abdominal pain and nausea.

•    As cocaine eliminates fatigue it is possible for the user to use up their energetic reserves and to cross the natural limits without realizing it. In combination with insomnia, these circumstances may lead to exhaustion, which provides some users with a reason to start using again.

•    The risk of exhaustion is higher when there is a combination of cocaine and alcohol. The loss of judgment for the amount of alcohol consumed can lead to alcohol poisoning. This effect is followed by some secondary undesired reactions.

You can read more about the risks of combination of cocaine with other substances here.

•    Use of high doses of cocaine may lead to psychosis. Common symptoms are hallucinations, feelings of anxiety and panic, paranoia, aggression.

•    Regular use may cause tactile sensations as if insects are crawling under or on the skin and in an attempt to get rid of them, the user may damage his skin and cause bleeding.

•    Regular snorting of cocaine causes damage to the nasal mucous membranes. If cocaine reaches the sinus cavity, it can cause a blockage and headache.

•    The use of unsterile needles and syringes for injecting cocaine may cause skin abscess and infection with blood-transmitted infections such as HIV and hepatitis.

•    Smoking of crack brings more physical risks such as hard breathing, coughing, strong pain in the chest, bleeding in the lungs, and low level of oxygen in the blood.

•    One of the effects of cocaine is that it constricts blood vessels and causes dry mouth. This is the reason why chronic users suffer by severe gingivitis and tooth decay.

•    Cocaine consumption trough the mouth increases the risk of development of a gangrene of the intestines due to the constriction of blood vessels and reduction of blood flow.

•    People under the influence of cocaine tend to engage in risky behaviors, including unprotected sex.

•    A huge amount of the cocaine, sold outside of South America, is cut with levamisole (medicine against intestinal worms). Regular use of levamisole may damage the immune system.

•    Research shows that cocaine use during pregnancy increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, premature birth and stillbirth.

•    Cocaine passes into the mother’s milk and the baby may become agitated and may lose appetite.

•    After a person stops using, he or she may become depressive and this could lead to suicide.

•    Use of high doses may cause damage to the kidneys leading to kidney failure.

•    Use of non-sterile needles for injecting cocaine may cause skin abscesses and increases the risk of contracting a blood-transmitted disease such as HIV or Hepatitis C.