Substance Use

Cocaine Headaches: Why This Can Happen and What to Do

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What Are Cocaine Headaches?

Cocaine can cause headaches as a result of both usage and withdrawal. These headaches can be severe, and it can be difficult to get relief due to the nature of the way cocaine affects the body. There are some treatments and things you can do to lessen the severity of these headaches.

Cocaine can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, including the presence of severe headaches that feel like they’ll never go away.

If you’re experiencing headaches due to cocaine, it’s important to understand how the drug impacts your central nervous system and what you can do to treat and prevent tension and cluster headaches induced by cocaine.

If you or someone you love is addicted to cocaine, Zinnia Health can help. We offer personalized treatment services to help individuals work through the recovery process on their own timeline. Ready to learn more? Call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 and get answers to your questions.

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How Does Cocaine Impact the Body?

Cocaine is a stimulant that is extremely addictive because it increases the levels of dopamine and serotonin in your brain. Both are neurotransmitters responsible for our brain’s pleasure center, particularly dopamine.

This means we are wired to do anything that leads to a release of dopamine — like smoking or snorting cocaine and other instances of substance use.

At first use, the rush of euphoria and energy you experience from cocaine is exhilarating. However, as you use it more and more, your brain’s reward center starts to become desensitized to it, which means you have to take more cocaine to experience the same sensations.

With just a few uses, you could find yourself in an addiction cycle where you are continuously taking the drug, craving it, and taking more of the drug. This is why chronic cocaine users often don’t realize that they are becoming addicted until it’s too late.

Why Does Cocaine Cause Headaches?

Cocaine use can lead to severe headaches, and this side effect can be caused and compounded by a few different factors.

First and foremost, using cocaine often leads to vasoconstriction, which is narrowing of the blood vessels. Vasoconstriction reduces the amount of blood flowing throughout the body, including to the brain, which can lead to headaches.

If you’re experiencing vasoconstriction, you may also have high blood pressure or chest pain. It also puts you at an increased risk of stroke.

Another reason why cocaine can lead to headaches is that it contributes to dehydration. Aside from substance use reducing your appetite, cocaine can cause you to sweat while also increasing your heart rate and body temperature, potentially causing dehydration.

If you think dehydration is a factor in your headache, sipping on cool water can help.

Can Cocaine Withdrawal Cause Headaches?

Whether or not you experienced headaches while using cocaine, you might find that you suddenly have severe headaches if you try to quit cocaine. This is not a direct side effect of the drug, but rather a symptom of the withdrawal process.

As a person becomes addicted to cocaine, the brain rewires itself. When you quit cocaine, your body has to get back to normal and learn how to function without it. 

During the time that your brain is rewiring itself to function without cocaine, you undergo a period known as withdrawal.

Cocaine withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, with symptoms such as:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Changes in appetite
  • Intense headaches

Withdrawal headaches can begin just a few hours after the last instance of drug use. Symptoms can last for several weeks, depending on the severity of cocaine dependence.

Since withdrawal can be difficult and uncomfortable, it’s important to seek help from a team of medical professionals who can help you manage your symptoms and the risks of drug withdrawal. 

Since there are multiple ways that cocaine can cause headaches, there are a few ways to help prevent or treat them.

In the event of vasoconstriction, the best way to relieve a headache is to rest and apply a cold pack. You may also find that applying light pressure to certain parts of your head helps relieve some of the pain.

Meanwhile, if your headache is caused by cocaine withdrawal, there are medications that can help limit this symptom and the other side effects of withdrawal. It’s important that you work with a qualified team of medical professionals to make sure you take safe medications that won’t harm your body or send you into relapse.

Some other ways to help relieve headache pain include:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoid bright lights
  • Get enough sleep
  • Limit alcohol
  • Avoid foods high in histamine

If you truly want to get rid of cocaine headaches for good, maybe it’s time to look into your substance use treatment options.

Are you prepared to take the next step? Zinnia Health can help. Our team is standing by to answer your questions about cocaine addiction treatment and recovery. Just call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 for more information.

Other Side Effects of Chronic Cocaine Use

The effects of cocaine go far beyond severe headaches. While this might be the symptom that’s nagging you right now or the one that bothers you the most, cocaine abuse can have long-lasting effects on your mental and physical health.

Some of the side effects include:

  • Changes in mood and behavior, including anxiety, restlessness, agitation, paranoia, panic attacks, and psychosis
  • Reduced blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract, which can lead to tears
  • Weight loss and malnourishment
  • Changes in your cardiovascular health along with severe chest pain that may feel like a heart attack
  • Fast heart rate and high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Increased risk of stroke and seizures
  • Nosebleeds, lung damage, loss of smell (if snorting cocaine)

When you use cocaine consistently over long periods, your risk of serious consequences increases and so does the amount of time you will spend in withdrawal. Combining cocaine with other illicit drugs or alcohol also heightens your risk of severe impairment or overdose.

Treatment Options for Cocaine Headaches and Addiction

The use of cocaine across the United States is declining, but drug abuse is still an epidemic, especially among young adults. If you or someone you love is taking cocaine, professional medical advice could change your life.

At Zinnia Health, we believe in offering flexible, personalized addiction treatment services customized to each individual. Our programs are built around supporting your physical and mental health while helping you align with your long-term goals.

With a mix of inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, we help individuals overcome substance abuse and the side effects brought on by the use of cocaine (including crack cocaine). We do this by:

  • Identifying the prevalence of behaviors and habits that contribute to addiction
  • Discussing the realities of self-medication
  • Treating co-occurring disorders like PTSD and depression
  • Providing medications to help you with the symptoms of withdrawal

If you’re ready to move forward with treatment, Zinnia Health can help. Just dial (855) 430-9439 to reach our team any time, day or night, and get on the path to addiction recovery. 

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