Here's What Cocaine Does To The Human Body

Last week Wall Street found that it had another cocaine fuelled scandal on its hands, when an investment bankers ex-wife accused her husband of intense drug abuse.

Less than a week later, a banker in Hong Kong was arrested as a suspect in the murder of two prostitutes. Police found a small amount of cocaine in his home.

This isn’t necessarily every day stuff, but it wasn’t a terrible shock either. Cocaine has been an elicit way for bankers to keep up with clients, parties and long hours for decades.

That has its consequences, though.

Cocaine can harm a number of parts of the human body, from your nasal passages to your sexual stamina. No small thing.

This story first appeared on Business Insider in September 2012.

Cocaine sparks euphoria and heightens your senses.

For most casual cocaine users, stimulation belies the drug's consumption. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), cocaine sparks euphoria and mental alertness, especially to sight, touch, and sound.

The faster the drug is absorbed by the blood stream, the more intense the effect and the shorter it lasts.

It triggers the part of your brain responsible for addictive behaviour.

University of Michigan neuropsychologists found repeated cocaine use results in a hyper-responsive dopamine system, making the drug hard for the brain to ignore.

Dopamine, the chemical in the brain responsible for just about any addictive behaviour, is triggered when one is engaged in any deeply pleasurable activity.

It's so addictive you can crave it by watching others do it.

Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of NIDA and the one of country's preeminent expert on addiction, found that dopamine levels jump even if cocaine addicts are simply watching videos of people using the drug.

It is potentially lethal because it restricts blood to the heart.

In their seminal study on the effect of cocaine on the heart, researchers at the Hospital of the Good Samaritan in Los Angeles found the drug increases heart rate and blood pressure while constricting the arteries supplying blood to the heart.

A restriction in the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart causes tissue disease and can result in chest pain, heart attacks, and strokes.

Its users are more susceptible to heart attacks.

In 1999, Researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston discovered that during the first hour after cocaine use, the user's risk of heart attack increases nearly 24 times.

During a follow-up study in 2008, they found that 10 per cent of heart attacks in 18 or 45 years old were linked to more than 10 lifetime uses of cocaine.

It depletes the protein that triggers pleasure and leads to depression.

Kangaroos footballer Jonathan Hay said he was battling depression in 2007.

Chronic cocaine users also run a higher risk of depression and the drug will have diminishing returns over time.

According to a 2009 study conducted by the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center and the University of Michigan, the drug, over time, shrinks levels of VMAT2, the protein responsible for making dopamine in the brain.

It enhances sex and then destroys your drive.

In the short-term, cocaine can spike sexual arousal and prolong stamina, but like most addictive substances, long-term addiction to the drug can result in impotence.

It stifles your appetite, leading to weight loss.

There's data behind the claim that cocaine can make you skinny. Using lab rats as research subjects, researchers at the University of Birmingham found use of the drug delayed feeding as well as the number of meals consumed overall.

It can destroy the inside of your nose and causes respiratory problems.

Cocaine is toxic to the nasal tissue it passes through before it's absorbed into the bloodstream. The drug itself numbs the pain, but can cause redness, a running nose, and eventually septum damage.

This seems to be a bit safer...

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