Physical Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse
Cocaine affects the central nervous system, which can disturb digestion, but there is no empirical evidence that it triggers extra bowel movements. Although cocaine doesn’t intrinsically make you use the bathroom, other factors may.
These factors include:
- Cutting agents in cocaine
- Health conditions caused by cocaine use
- Long-term cocaine use
- Mental health issues created by cocaine use
The long-term effects of cocaine on the digestive system often cause irregular bowel movements. This can result in constipation or diarrhea.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a cocaine addiction, Zinnia Health can help. We offer various levels of care to suit your needs and numerous evidence-based treatment programs like 12-step and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for cocaine abuse. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to learn more.
Cocaine and the Digestive System
Pure cocaine is a byproduct of coca leaf extract. Early natives in the Amazonian region of South America traditionally chewed on coca leaves to regulate digestion, amongst other supposed health benefits. Today, most people bypass chewing coca leaves and instead use coca leaf extract in its highly-processed form — cocaine. Unlike the days of old, people no longer look to coca leaf extract for health benefits but instead use cocaine or the adulterated form, crack cocaine, to get a serotonin and dopamine high.
Cocaine use causes an energy surge. This surge happens when the brain’s feel-good messenger — dopamine — is unable to find its way back to the cell that released it. As a result, the body’s ability to remove it is stifled. This results in a dopamine build-up.
Shortly after ingesting cocaine, the user experiences psychological and physical side effects. Nausea is the most common gastrointestinal side-effect, which could lead to a change in bowel movements. Other side effects of cocaine use include:
- Extreme happiness and energy
- Mental alertness
- Fast heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
Although documented studies don’t correlate defecating with cocaine use, it can happen with long-term use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the long-term effect of oral cocaine use can lead to severe bowel decay (Ischemic colitis) and intestinal perforations from reduced blood flow. At this point, you’ll have frequent, urgent bowel movements.
Hepatitis B and Chronic Cocaine Use on Digestion
People who use cocaine long-term have an increased risk of developing Hepatitis B, although it can also affect short-term users. This condition starts as swelling in the liver that progresses to liver damage. Hepatitis B affects the way your liver processes waste.
Acute Hepatitis B presents numerous gastrointestinal symptoms 2 to 5 months after contracting it. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Grey or clay-colored stool
- Joint pain
- Dark urine
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
Cocaine users are also more likely to indulge in risky behavior, such as sharing needles, which increases the risk of contracting HIV and AIDS. The AIDS virus causes digestive symptoms, which include prolonged diarrhea.
If you are a cocaine user and have experienced any of the above symptoms, get medical advice immediately. Untreated Hepatitis B can lead to liver failure or cirrhosis, which is life-threatening.
Are you at risk of contracting Hepatitis B from chronic cocaine use? Zinnia Health can help. We offer fully accredited, inpatient substance abuse programs to help you detox and stay clean. Call us at (855) 430-9439 to learn how we can help you take your first steps towards sobriety.
Cocaine Cutting Agents and Digestion
Cocaine in its pure form is very expensive. Street dealers looking to profit more from a lower-quality product often adulterate cocaine with cutting agents like baking soda and ammonia. This is the manufacturing process for crack cocaine, though pure cocaine can be adulterated too. In fact, a study published in Forensic Science International identified a few cutting agents in supposed-pure cocaine, which included such substances as laundry detergent and:
- Caffeine: a naturally occurring substance that provides an energy boost; caffeine is known to cause diarrhea in those who consume too much
- Lidocaine: a local anesthetic used to prevent pain
- Imidazole: a drug used to treat skin and fungal infections
- Levamisole: is used to treat animals for parasitic infections
- Phenacetin: a drug used to reduce pain and fever
The above-listed substances are added to cocaine to create the same side effects as cocaine. A cocaine user can’t tell how much of a substance their cocaine contains or if it contains more than one of these substances.
Aside from OTC 5% lidocaine topical ointments, none of these medications are available over the counter, and it’s impossible to tell if one or many are in a single cocaine sample. So, it’s possible to have gastrointestinal symptoms after using adulterated cocaine.
Cocaine, Anxiety, and Digestive Issues
As noted above, cocaine can cause anxiety and paranoia in certain users.
In an article about the gut-brain connection, Harvard Health states that the brain directly affects the digestive system. Their studies conclude that intestinal distress can be the cause of — or the product of — anxiety, stress, or depression. This is due to an intimate connection that the brain and gastrointestinal system share, called the Vagus nerve.
The Vagus nerve — which runs from the brain to the large intestine — controls specific aspects of the limbic system, gastrointestinal system, immune system, and cardiovascular system. A cocaine user that suffers from frequent anxiety attacks can experience bouts of diarrhea during and after using cocaine.
Relief from Cocaine Digestive Issues
To free yourself from the digestive discomfort of using cocaine, you have to detox your system from the drug.
While it’s possible to quit on your own, it’s extremely difficult, especially if you’ve used it for a long time. Once you stop using cocaine, you will experience symptoms of cocaine withdrawal which range from agitation and restlessness to depression and bad dreams. The good news is that you are much more likely to quit cocaine and stay clean when working with an accredited rehabilitation center.
Medically supervised detox in rehabilitation centers remains the best way to start your journey to getting clean. In a medically supervised program, you’ll receive medication and support to get you through the discomfort of withdrawal. Then, once the cocaine is out of your system, you can find further support in a 12-step program or similar.
We tailor our treatment programs at Zinnia Health to meet your specific needs so you can receive the right level of support for your journey to a clean and sober life.
In addition, we offer treatment for drug addiction and abuse in a home-like setting, with supportive staff members and a calming environment.