How Does Cocaine Affect The Lungs?

how does cocaine affect the lungs

The respiratory system’s main function is to help us inhale oxygen and release carbon dioxide. The lungs are the main organs in the respiratory system. When lung health is compromised, it can lead to a variety of problems. Respiratory disorders can be caused by a range of conditions including the common cold, viruses, heart disease, and more. Drug abuse is also a common cause of lung disease. While there’s plenty of research on the effects of cocaine on the heart, we wanted to give insight into another less commonly answered question: how does cocaine affect the lungs? 

How Does Cocaine Work?

Our luxury drug and alcohol rehab in South Florida is very familiar with the effects of cocaine abuse on the body. Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that works by targeting the central nervous system, starting at the brain. It targets the brain’s reward system, also referred to as its mesolimbic dopamine system. This system can be activated by a variety of stimuli, including food, sex, and especially drugs. When activated, this reward system releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating mood and emotion. It also sends signals from one neuron to another. 

Smoking cocaine allows it to bind itself to dopamine transporters, blocking the release of dopamine. This causes a build-up that amplifies communication between neurons. 

The effects of smoking cocaine also include: 

  • Increased heart rate
  • Contracted blood vessels
  • High blood pressure 
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis 
  • Tooth decay
  • Liver and kidney damage 
  • Hallucinations
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Heart attack
  • Chest pains
  • Infertility 
  • Delirium 
  • Addiction

As dangerous as cocaine is, users will continue to abuse it because they develop a physical dependency. The effects of cocaine on the brain include dopamine build-up, which causes feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Users become hooked on these feelings; however, the longer they use cocaine, the more tolerant they may become. As this tolerance develops, they may have to ingest a higher dose in order to experience the same side effects. 

The effects of smoking crack cocaine can be life-threatening. Fortunately, help is available. At Seaside Palm Beach, we offer a luxury detox program that provides patients with 24-hour care and medical assistance for their withdrawal symptoms. Detox treatment is often the first step in treating addiction for many of our patients. 

Effects Of Cocaine On the Lungs

So, how does cocaine affect the lungs? The pulmonary effects of cocaine can range from mild to severe. Cocaine affects the lungs by constricting veins, arteries, and capillaries in the vascular system. This can cause the lining of the arteries and cellular walls of organs like the lungs to harden. The hardening of these areas can lead to respiratory problems and even death. 

Cocaine smoking effects on the lungs also include: 

  • Hemorrhages, ruptured veins and arteries in the lungs
  • Pulmonary edema, swelling of the lungs
  • Increased risk of developing pulmonary diseases like pneumonia, bronchitis, and emphysema 
  • Hardened lungs
  • Hardened arteries, veins, and capillaries 
  • Blood supply to the lungs is cut off

Regardless of how it’s ingested, the long-term effects of cocaine on the body, specifically on the respiratory system, can be life-threatening. If you or someone you know is struggling with a cocaine addiction, call our luxury rehab today at 561-677-9374 to learn more about our residential addiction treatment in Palm Beach.


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