Cocaine is a white crystal-like substance extracted from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. It is sometimes used in medicine as a local aesthetic, but is most well known for its use as an illicit drug. Cocaine produces feelings of euphoria and has a stimulating effect on the body. However, frequent cocaine use can create a dependency problem. This means that the production, sale and use of cocaine is restricted ,and in most countries it is illegal. It is estimated that over 600 tonnes of cocaine are seized by authorities around the world each year. Let’s take a look at the effect cocaine has on the brain.
How does cocaine Affect the brain?
Cocaine produces the feelings of euphoria by causing huge increases in the amount of dopamine released in the brain. Dopamine is the chemical that forms the reward system in our brain. It is responsible for feelings of enjoyment and motivates us to perform, and repeat, certain activities. Usually dopamine is returned to the nerve cells that release it, but cocaine blocks the dopamine transport system. This flood of dopamine in the brain, sends the reward system into overdrive and leads to the feelings of euphoria associated with the drug. This euphoria often leads to confidence and talkativeness. Due to this strong affect on the brain’s reward system, cocaine dependency can occur with frequent use. Other negative effects of chronic cocaine use on the brain may include increased risk of stroke, reduced attention, insomnia and/or feelings of lethargy.